Meditation and mindfulness are two concepts that have broken into the collective Western consciousness in recent years. From its origins in ancient teachings and practices from Taoist China and Buddhist India, it has grown worldwide. A 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that interest in meditation increased threefold between 2012 and 2017. This growth makes it the fastest-growing holistic wellness trend in America so far—in addition to yoga and chiropractic care.
Taking the time to pause and reacquaint ourselves with our own breath seems like a tall order in this fast-paced and technology-driven world. Yet, it seems many Americans recognize the importance of balance.
If mindfulness seems like an intimidating or unfamiliar idea, picking up a book dedicated to the topic is a great place to begin your journey to inner calm. A quick scan of Amazon—or wherever you like to buy or download books—will present you with hundreds of pieces of literature on the subject, from how-to guides to academic texts.
To help narrow down your options, we selected 20 books about mindfulness to 'add to cart' now. If you're ready to embark on a mission to find your zen, crack open one of these books on mindfulness. Here are our picks for the best mindfulness books for your practice.
Just Sit by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz
Written for everyone who's ever thought they could benefit from meditation but never actually found the time or motivation to start, Just Sit is the perfect introduction to mindfulness for a novice. It's full of information and easy-to-follow instructions, including an eight-week plan to help you stick with the practice and meet your goals.
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This book on mindfulness was originally written over 25 years ago based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness-based stress reduction program and has since been revised and updated with the latest information and fresh ideas. It was the work of Kabat-Zinn, a scientist and meditation teacher, that kick-started recent research on the relationship between meditation and yoga and well-being. Today, it remains a powerful read on how the power of mindfulness can help with anxiety, depression, and disease.
Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
A best-seller on the subject of mindfulness, this book is written by Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist monk Bhante Gunaratana, a meditation master. Allow him to break down the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and explain step-by-step instructions on how to begin your practice. As the title suggests, the book is written in simple, easy-to-understand language.
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
Written by zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, this book outlines the basics of mindfulness with a focus on teaching you to see every moment as an opportunity for self-understanding. After reading this, you'll find meaning in even the simplest daily actions.
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Another popular book on mindfulness from Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are offers readers a deep dive into the practice written is a highly digestible way. It's a meaningful book for anyone who's ever spent too much time worrying about the future, and it reads like a lecture from your favorite professor, according to Amazon reviews.
Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein
Writing from 40 years of experience as a teacher of mindfulness, author Joseph Goldstein lays out how to use mindful living to find inner freedom. This read is incredibly detailed yet remains approachable to the average person looking to understand this vast subject.
Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
A leader in the meditation world, Sharon Salzberg uses 20 years of teaching experience to create a 28-day program for anyone ready to experience the numerous benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Her approach is less philosophical and more practical, explaining the monthlong plan in the same way one would describe an exercise regimen. It also comes with a helpful FAQ section for beginners to reference.
Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel
If you have kids, you might consider picking up a copy of Sitting Still Like a Frog, a book that offers a child-friendly approach to mindfulness. Find practices on how to help children (and yourself) feel calm, focus, and fall asleep with ease. It details how to introduce the concept to kids while you work on the skills together.
The Little Book of Mindfulness by Patricia Collard
This book is for anyone who's been intimidated by the myth that mindfulness requires hours and hours of meditation. In this book, you'll find five- to 10-minute practices to do each day to relieve stress and experience living in the moment. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can find time for these short and simple exercises.
Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
Another work by Thich Nhat Hanh, this book contains personal stories from Nhat Hanh's own life and experiences as an activist, teacher, and leader. Find out how to cultivate a meaningful relationship with everything you do through conscious breathing and body awareness.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is a New York Times best seller that's sold millions of copies worldwide. Author Eckhart Tolle describes the mind as the enemy of enlightenment and offers the reader solutions to live fully in the moment in order to reach a richer sense of awareness and understanding.
Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfeld
A straightforward guide for how bringing awareness to breathing, posture, and thoughts can help readers enter a meditative state. Meditation for Beginners is an accessible read full of tips for calming the "busy brain," and how meditation can cultivate compassion and healing. In an interview with Mindful magazine, neuroscientist Amishi Jha credits Kornfield's book with inspiring a new area of research for her lab.
Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color by Iyanla Vanzant
Acts of Faith is an uplifting book of inspirational quotes and messages for each day of the year and is particularly tuned in to the lived experience of people of color across faiths and disciplines. Author and international speaker, Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vazant, has been a regular on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Away & Aware by Sara Clemence
Today's hyper-connected world can make it impossible to unplug, even when we take the time to do just that: on vacation. Away & Aware is a reminder of the joys of hitting the road with the presence of mind, offering planning and packing tips, suggestions for connecting with local culture, traveling with kids, and more.
The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe
For the time-strapped, meditation novice (which includes the skeptics), Andy Puddicombe's accessible how-to book is for you. Perhaps most helpful are his simple metaphors that navigate the abstractness of meditation and mindfulness. Most people can take ten minutes to tune into their awareness, and Puddicombe, an ordained Buddhist monk with a soothing British accent, shows us how.
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV
Spiritual leader, Nobel Prize winner, and speaker, the Dalai Lama addresses anxiety, insecurity, anger, and worthiness through conversations, stories, and meditations. With the added context of psychiatrist Dr. Howard Cutler, The Art of Happiness tackles how cultivating inner peace may benefit the more challenging facets of the human condition.
What Now?: Meditation For Your Twenties and Beyond by Yael Shy
Early adulthood is a peculiar time, marked by a time of rapid growth, intense emotions, and insecurity. Author Yael Shy, founder of the country's largest campus-wide meditation program, MindfulNYU, addresses these matters with compassion. What Now? offers advice for approaching the dizzying swirl of tech, relationships, social dynamics, and more, with a handful of mindfulness exercises to help readers begin meditating now.
How We Eat With Our Eyes and Think with Our Stomach by Melanie Mühl and Diana von Kopp
Authors Melanie Mühl and Diana von Kopp say we make more than 200 food-related decisions every day, some conscious, others not. Packed with research, How We Eat With Our Eyes And Think With Our Stomach shines a light on the assumptions and tendencies we lean on related to food, and the role our environment plays in our food decisions.
Our Senses by Rob DeSalle
How we create and navigate our environment depends on all of our senses as humans. Our Senses share how they work, what happens when they don't, and how they help us make sense of the world through the lens of neuroscience.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over. NCHS Data Brief. November 2018;32.