Mindfulness meditation is the most popular form of meditation that exists today. Meditation can provide great relief for many of us dealing with panic attacks, stress, and anxiety in our daily lives. To get you started, here are the best mindfulness books for beginners in 2021:
- 10% Happier
- Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
- The Meditation Bible
- Think Like a Monk
- Waking Up
- The Four Agreements
- The Miracle of Mindfulness
- Wherever You Go, There You Are
These books are ranked in no particular order, so just go with whichever sounds best for you!
But why did I choose these mindfulness books in the first place?
8 Best Mindfulness Books for Beginners in 2021
Any time I start a book, I have one expectation: The book should change my life or worldview in at least one small way. The following books all met that expectation for me. Each book on this list is great for diving into mindfulness or meditation in general.
I’ll give you a quick rundown on each of these books in just a moment.
For now, let’s talk about what mindfulness actually is.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the meditative practice of allowing ourselves to be present and grounded in the moment. During a mindfulness meditation, we actively bring our awareness to the current experience. We may direct our focus inward toward our thoughts, or outward toward our environment and senses.
If this all sounds a bit woo-woo to you, it may be helpful to think of mindfulness meditation as an exercise for the mind. Initially, it may be awkward and difficult; with practice however, it becomes easier and more effective over time.
Just like a lack of physical exercise leads to a flabby belly, lack of mental exercises like mindfulness meditations can lead to an out-of-shape mind.
Now, let’s dive into the best mindfulness books for beginners.
“10% Happier” is an autobiography by Dan Harris and the first mindfulness meditation book I ever read. If you’ve never meditated before or are skeptical of meditation, this is the book for you. Seriously. If I didn’t start here, I may have dismissed meditation altogether.
Dan Harris is a well-known journalist and anchorman. In 2004, his stressful career and chaotic lifestyle caught up with him – he had a brutal on-air panic attack in front of 5 million viewers. This forced him to reevaluate everything. He set out on a mission to understand his mind and find inner peace, interviewing every sort of religious and spiritual leader. Eventually, he found his answers in meditation.
This book is stripped bare of any “spiritual” or “good vibes” jargon. It’s as straightforward and logical as Harris himself. This makes it a great choice for anyone who doubts the value of meditation and is only interested in scientific fact.
Who Should Buy This Book: Skeptics of meditation or the benefits of mindfulness.
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
Let’s follow up with another book by Dan Harris. “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” is the logical sequel to “10% Happier.” In this book, Harris pairs with meditation guru Jeff Warren to bring meditation to the masses.
This is one of the best mindfulness books for beginners because it sets a very reasonable goal: Get the reader to meditate for just one minute per day. That’s right – Harris and Warren aren’t asking for an hour of your busy day; just one minute.
Aptly named, this book aims to convince “fidgety skeptics” that – no matter how busy they may be – they do have time to meditate. They argue that even one minute a day is enough to build the habit and enjoy the many benefits of meditation. They provide many mindfulness meditations to get the reader meditating, and even have an app to follow along with.
Who Should Buy This Book: Anyone who can't find the time or patience to meditate.
The Meditation Bible
I’ll admit – I actually bought this book when I was like 15 years old. Sadly, it sat around collecting dust until about a decade later when I decided to give meditation a real chance.
This is one of the best mindfulness books for beginners because it is so straightforward and practical. Unlike the rest of the books on this list, “The Meditation Bible” doesn’t read like a story. Instead, it’s a massive compilation of meditations ranging from breathwork to mindfulness meditations and visualizations.
If you want to skip the fluff and dive right into meditating, this is the book for you. It teaches far more meditation exercises than any other book on this list, without filling page space with stories, anecdotes, or monologues.
Who Should Buy This Book: People who want short and straightforward instructions on how to perform many different mindfulness meditations.
Think Like a Monk
I’m generally skeptical of “online gurus” like Jay Shetty. I probably never would have purchased this book myself, but my mom loves Shetty and bought me his book as a gift. I read through the whole thing and have to admit, I actually loved it.
Shetty spent three years as a monk at an ashram in India. In this book, he conveys a number of life lessons from the perspective of a monk. He frames these lessons in a way that enables readers to absorb some wisdom without having to go “full monk.” I consider these lessons valuable for anyone looking to grow and improve as a person.
I feel this book has genuinely helped me to become a “better person.” I’m sure I’ll flip through certain sections again in the future. It’s an easy recommendation from me.
Who Should Buy This Book: Anyone looking to grow, improve, and find purpose.
Sam Harris (no relation to Dan Harris) is a renowned neuroscientist and philosopher. You may recognize Harris if you’re a fan of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, as he’s been on there numerous times. He’s one of the more interesting and engaging guests.
This is one of the best mindfulness books for beginners that I’ve ever read, because of Harris’ secular approach to mindfulness. Harris’ scientific and objective approach is both refreshing and disarming. It explores the fine line between science and spirituality, helping the reader to benefit from meditation without subscribing to religious dogma.
If I could only ever recommend one book about mindfulness, it would probably be this one.
Who Should Buy This Book: Anyone looking for a secular and scientific approach to mindfulness and meditation.
The Four Agreements
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is a guidebook rooted in ancient Toltec wisdom. Simple enough for anyone to wrap their head around, this is a small book with big ideas.
The four agreements are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
This is a pretty light read, and most people can bang it out in just under a few hours. It’s also probably one of the most commonly recommended books of all time. Check it out, it won’t take up much of your time and could make a big impact.
Who Should Buy This Book: People seeking personal growth, wisdom, or guidance.
The Miracle of Mindfulness
Thich Naht Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, and one of the best mindfulness authors of all time. In 1967, he was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I’ve seen so many powerful quotes from Thich Naht Hanh thrown around, I knew I’d have to check his books out.
This is easily one of the best mindfulness books for beginners that I can think of. Thich Naht Hanh teaches simple, easy-to-follow meditations that can be incorporated into our daily routines. He teaches simple meditation techniques in a profound way; teaching the reader to be present and focused throughout the most mundane tasks of our daily lives.
Who Should Buy This Book: Meditation beginners looking for easy-to-follow meditations from a Zen master.
Wherever You Go, There You Are
“Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a bestselling book about mindfulness and meditation. Like some others on the list, this book takes a secular approach on the subject (which I appreciate).
This book is written with a friendly and casual tone, making it a light and easy read for people new to meditation. While it’s not the most in-depth book on meditation out there, it’s certainly a good launching point for meditation beginners.
“Wherever You Go, There You Are” scratches the surface just enough to get you meditating without overwhelming you. It’s a great start to see if meditation is for you or not. If you love it and are hungry for more, you can move on to the other books in this list.
Who Should Buy This Book: Beginners looking to dip their toe into meditation without becoming overwhelmed.