This list of audiobooks about mindfulness is sponsored by Penguin Random House Audio.
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This is not just a list of mindfulness audiobooks. Yes, I’ve included two books by Thich Nhat Hanh and a book on Zen and the Tao Te Ching, but as you’ll hear in the conventional books on meditation and mindful living, there is no one way to achieve mindfulness. For me, mindfulness is really really hard. I sit down in the correct posture for meditation, and I try to control my breathing, but it just makes me feel more anxious. This is a bad thing. I have problems, but that’s why I find books that are not directly about meditation easier to digest. I look for books about minimalism and nature and acceptance. Books that keep telling me that I need to relax have the opposite effect.
Instead of dwelling on my inability to relax, I’ve found different ways to meditate—maybe they’re not the best, maybe I’m still distracted and thinking of more than one thing at a time, maybe I want to do something else—but my idea of living mindfully is paying attention. I’m the person that goes from point A to point B without knowing how I got there. I’m distracted, and the world is passing me by—it’s stressful. So that’s my New Year’s Resolution: to notice things. To find a way to stop thinking so hard about things that aren’t important, and to notice the world around me.
I have found the best time to listen to audiobooks on meditation and mindfulness is right away in the morning, while fixing breakfast or brushing my teeth. It’s a quiet way to start my day, and when I consciously start slowing down my thoughts, mindfulness can become part of my daily routine.
So if you, too, would like to have a more mindful new year, here are 12 audiobooks that should help:
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki
This book is what the title advertises: a beginner’s guide to meditation. It was the first audiobook on meditation that I listened to. It’s short, and easily digestible. What I’ve noticed in many of the books on meditation is there’s a lot of repetition, so don’t fret if you miss something.
The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
Yes, if you can manage it, mindfulness can feel like a miracle. If you’ve lived with anxiety, and suddenly your chest unclenches and you start noticing the world around you—that’s a kind of miracle.
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh
The world is a loud place, especially for introverts who thrive in quiet environments. This book will help you find inner quiet and peace in noisy places.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Simplify your life with Winnie the Pooh! Pooh just wants honey—which is pretty simple, and can help us evaluate our own lives—what do we really need? Is there a better approach to the materialism in our lives? Are we listening to each other? “Do you really want to be happy?”
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell
The classic guide to the art of living: questions are needless, answers are irrelevant. All that’s important is balance and generosity. The Tao Te Ching might be a little bit frustrating, but necessary.
Living Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck
Take your meditation practice (if you have one, because as I’ve already said I don’t…) into your everyday jobs and tasks. To find the joy of Zen, it has to be present in your everyday life.
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
For people who can’t stand positive thinking… Oh, hold up, let me raise a big hand to that! So basically, people who are always saying you need to be positive might be wrong. By trying to purge our lives of negative thought, we might just be fueling those negative urges, which might be giving us more anxiety and stress. This book teaches us to embrace the negative, and deal with it.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Yes, I have a ton of books, but the rule is if something “sparks joy” you can keep it, and my books “spark joy” so I can keep them, right? I haven’t tried Marie Kondo’s guide to a more organized, less cluttered lifestyle, but I’m intrigued, and I like the idea.
Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver
Stop doing more! Stop working so hard, stop buying so much, stop putting so many expectations on yourself. Just stop! Courtney Carver came to this realization when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. All the mental clutter and outside detritus—debt, an accumulation of stuff—was all making her symptoms worse, so she decided to live a minimalist life, which created space for her to pursue more important things.
The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
This is a weird choice, maybe. It might also be completely antithetical to the arguments made by most of the other books I’ve listed. But part of Zen and mindfulness and meditation is balance, so this book balances the list out.“It is in books, poems, paintings which often give us the confidence to take seriously feelings in ourselves that we might otherwise never have thought to acknowledge.” This is about surrounding ourselves with objects and things that make us happy. Things that inspire us. This is an endorsement for creating beautiful things.
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
I had to read this in a creative writing class. It’s really small, but very memorable. Basically, this is about figuring yourself out so you can write. If you don’t know what’s going on in your own head, how can you develop a cohesive story? But writing can also be a remedy for anyone struggling to face their inner demons. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
We are of the earth, we do not own the earth. There is wisdom in accepting our place in the world—and peace. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This is a beautiful book, and maybe the most important book on this list.
For more mindfulness book ideas check out 21 of the Best Mindfulness and Meditation Books for Beginners!
Have a great New Year!
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