9 Books That Prove Mindfulness Doesn't Have To Be Scary Or Boring

by E. Ce Miller

Is it just me, or is "mindfulness" suddenly everywhere these days? From the classroom to the corporate world, mindfulness isn’t just for Tibetan monks and New York yogis anymore — it’s for everyone. And the scientifically-proven benefits of mindfulness — from reduced stress and anxiety, to better decision making, to neural plasticity — are practically endless.

But first things first: what really is “mindfulness”, anyway? And can I really achieve it without donning my Lululemon leggings and twisting myself into a pretzel? (The short answer: yes.) In fact, mindfulness and meditation are not the same thing, despite the tendency for practitioners to use both terms interchangeably. You can use meditation (aka: sitting quietly, in a pretzel if you so desire) to achieve mindfulness, but being mindful is the essence of how you live your life in the entire world, all day, every day. It’s the ability to take on what the universe throws at you — the good, the bad, and the downright ugly — with thought, balance, and pause. As one of my favorite mindfulness coaches says: you can even find mindfulness in the Nordstrom shoe department, by simply being aware of all the beautiful shoes to choose from.

We’re all rushing through this wild, wonderful world that hardly ever seems to sleep — and most of us could definitely use a little more mindfulness as we do. Check out these nine books on mindfulness, to help get you started.

'The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness' by Diana Winston

Writer Diana Winston describes the subject of her book — natural awareness — as a complementary practice to that of mindfulness: in order to become mindful, you first must become aware. (And now that you’re aware, let’s enjoy some awareness of our own awareness. It doesn’t get more meta than that.) If this sounds like a lot to take in, The Little Book of Being is a great place to start. In concise, easily digestible mini-chapters, Winston breaks the practice of natural awareness down into accessible and easy to implement bits.

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'Walking Meditation: Easy Steps to Mindfulness' by Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether you’re walking through the woods or rushing to catch the bus, Walking Meditation: Easy Steps to Mindfulness is a pocket-sized guide to doing it mindfully. Encouraging readers to exist solely in their immediate, present moments, Walking Meditation asks: what if every step you take draws you deeper into your most aligned, authentic life? If that sounds like a little too much pressure to put on your walk to the bus stop, don’t worry. Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh are experts, and they’ll be walking alongside you every step of the way.

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'Sitting Still Like a Frog' by Eline Snel

While the subtitle of this book indicates that it was written primarily for kids, let’s be honest: when it comes to being our most mindful, aware selves, sometimes we ALL think like children do. (And honestly, the kids I know understand mindfulness far better than most adults.) In Sitting Still Like a Frog, Eline Snel blends written explanations with audio exercises, all of which take just a few minutes. This is the perfect book to pull out whenever you — or your little one — need to slow down and reset.

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'Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out' by Ruth King

Mindfulness isn’t just something we do to improve our lives and ourselves — it’s also a practice that can actually change the social structures of the world we live in: one damaging thought at a time. In Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, Ruth King describes racism as a disease (one of the heart) that is completely curable — if we’d only take the time to sit with ourselves, our suffering and the suffering of others, our individual role in the structures of oppression, and the discomfort that comes with that.

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'Radical Responsibility: How to Move Beyond Blame, Fearlessly Live Your Highest Purpose, and Become an Unstoppable Force for Good' by Fleet Maull

In Fleet Maull’s life before meditation, he spent 14 years incarcerated for drug trafficking. Through that experience, and others, he learned that the biggest obstacle to changing your life isn’t your individual circumstances — it’s how you choose to understand and respond to them. In Radical Responsibility: How to Move Beyond Blame, Fearlessly Live Your Highest Purpose, and Become an Unstoppable Force for Good, Maull describes his journey from prison to meditation mat, and how the lessons of his life can help you transform your own.

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'The Invitation' by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Inspired by a poem, The Invitation is an expanded version of Oriah’s poetic message — inviting readers everywhere to change how we think about our lives, transform the way we live, get comfortable with ourselves, and always strive for authenticity in everything we do.

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'Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important' by Jon Kabat-Zinn

A world-renowned mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the practice of mindfulness. Updated for today’s readers, Meditation Is Not What You Think explains meditation, mindfulness, why developing a practice might benefit you, and how to get started. Kabat-Zinn doesn’t quibble about the fact that mindfulness can force you to get real with yourself, real fast (and sometimes, that can be uncomfortable, at least at first) — but he does emphasize the life long personal and communal benefits of doing so.

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'Bodyfulness: Somatic Practices for Presence, Empowerment, and Waking Up in This Life' by Christine Caldwell

Sure, you’ve heard about mindfulness (certainly by now, anyway). But are you familiar with “bodyfulness”? In Bodyfulness: Somatic Practices for Presence, Empowerment, and Waking Up in This Life Christine Caldwell explores the ways we not only spend our days in conflict with our thoughts and minds, but also in conflict (and judgement) with our bodies. Inviting readers to liberate their body image and celebrate their physical selves, Caldwell shares the holistic benefits of living a bodyful life — not just body, but also mind and soul.

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