Books on mindfulness and Buddhism seemed to be vast, almost countless, perhaps even overwhelming at first. Before I received my first introductory book on mindfulness I imagined everyday practice was only accessible to monks or yoga teachers, but as you’ll learn by reading books on this list it’s for everyone.
Before I leaned what mindfulness was I thought it was meant only for buddhists. To boil down a very deep subject, mindfulness is a state of being in the present moment which can be, and is, practiced by just about any other group you can think up. The books on this list are very readable. I fell in love with how accessible and unique each of the books are.
1 - The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff:
I am so happy this was my first introduction into mindfulness. While you can read these books in any order you like, this one is my recommendation to start. You’ll be carried away to a place you can’t deny evokes your inner child. Hoff invites you into his studio as he and good ol’ Winnie the Pooh write a dreamy orientation into the mindset of a practitioner of mindfulness and Taoism. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about Taoism, or even if it’s your first time reading the word, Pooh will answer all of your questions. You’ll meet your other old friends from the Hundred Acre Wood too. Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger and Eeyore are perfect illustrations of how we can all benefit from mindfulness.
2 - No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh:
For those of you unfamiliar with the name it’s pronounced “Tick - Knee-ought - Han”. What you’ll quickly learn if you Google the beloved Buddhist is that he’s one of the most famous teachers of mindfulness in the world. Thich Nhat Hanh (or Thay, pronounced “Tai”, as he is often called, meaning teacher or master in Vietnamese) is the founder of a movement called Engaged Buddhism. Hanh’s writing is beautifully simple, and purely inspirational. You’ll be reintroduced to ideas like love, compassion, and suffering in a much more deep and meaningful way than you will have ever read before. Thich Nhat Hanh, like a loving grandfather, guides each reader into a true understanding of of what makes us connected to all living things and how to live in the present moment. After reading this book I vowed to myself that I would attempt to be as present and mindful in all my activities as I could. I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, and this book gave me the tools to heal old wounds that had rooted deep inside my being that kept me from enjoying the many good things all around me.
3 - Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa:
This one stands apart from the others on this list. This graphic guide to mindfulness is for those of you out there who enjoy more visual teaching tools. Sakugawa is a unique author who understands that true mindfulness is simple and beautiful. This book will pull at your most stiff and unforgiving heart strings, like anger, grief, and despair. I spend a lot of time reading about mindfulness and Buddhism, but every time I return to this book I come to understand what Sakugawa illustrated more deeply. She hits on the most fundamental elements of mindfulness: oneness (universal connectedness), emptiness (inner space), breathing, and the understanding of duality. After reading this book you’ll no longer fear your inner demons, as a matter of fact you’ll look forward to sitting down to have a cup of tea with each and every one of them.
4 - Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki:
This book is perhaps the most in depth, but the most meaningful to me. Suzuki Roshi is considered by many to be the father of western Zen Buddhism. There are many different types of Buddhism to explore: Tibetan, Pure Land, Tantric, and Zen, just to name a few. If you have a desire to learn more about Buddhism I recommend looking into them all and seeing what fits you. Zen has made the biggest impact on me. In this book Suzuki, in true Japanese style, is just as deep and thoughtful as he is minimal. He gives the reader very clear instructions on techniques to make the most of mediation practice.
5 - The Sun My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh:
This collection of essays by Vulture Gear’s favorite author is in many ways a psychological and metaphysical argument for mediation and mindfulness mixed with Hanh's personal experiences. This book is in my top five because it feels very much like a deep one-on-one conversation with Thay. At the end of this book I learned that looking deeply into myself is the same as looking deeply into all life.
I hope these readings guide you onto a path towards inner peace the same way it has done for me. I would love to see you spreading the message of mindfulness with this quote from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:
You can download the full image with this quote by clicking below!