Katinka Hesselink
By Katinka Hesselink,
Mindfulness trainer in
The Netherlands

Best Mindfulness Meditation Exercises Books and Audio

Mindfulness (Pali: sati, Sanskrit: smṛti) plays a central role in the teaching of Buddhist meditation where it is affirmed that "correct" or "right" mindfulness (Pali: sammā-sati, Sanskrit samyak-smṛti) is the critical factor in the path to liberation and subsequent enlightenment / Nirvana. 

If you want to practice mindfulness, what you really need is not theory, but practice. These books are specifically written to help you do just that: exercise in mindfulness. These are all books by psychologists who have stripped the exercise of mindfulness of it's Buddhist trappings and distilled the essence that can help you change your life, whatever your beliefs or other spiritual practices. 

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein

This workbook will help you develop your mindfulness routine by giving you weekly exercises and a CD filled with meditation music to help you relax yet stay alert.

It is meant as a supplement to the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program, not a replacement. As such it includes all the meditations from the MBSR program, but it also includes other exercises. If you follow the book, you will find that it starts a bit more slowly than the MBSR system and takes 10 weeks instead of 8.

I found the CD very helpful: the main meditations come in 15, 30 and 45 minute lengths so you can adapt to the time you have. However, the 15 minute mindful yoga track is a bit rushed.

Mindfulness and Grief: With Guided Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Restore Your Spiritby Heather Stang

Personally I prefer a woman's voice to a man's, which is one of the reasons this workbook gets listed here. It also has excellent reviews and it follows the 8-week MBSR program. It even includes the day-long retreat that is part of the live MBSR program. Most books skip that part.

As the title suggests this book is aimed specifically at dealing with grief and loss. Grief is part of the human condition, but it takes us out of the ordinary and the routines of life. Mindfulness can help in working through it by starting with acceptance.

The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems by Ronald Siegel
In this practical guide the standard that is set is 20 minutes of mindfulness exercise a day. That may seem steep, but the rewards will come on their own once you put that time in.
Free audio downloads are available at the author's website.

Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the man who first started offering mindfulness training to non-Buddhists to help alleviate pain and suffering in hospitals and stress in our daily lives.

This book is really the kind of book you can take with you wherever you go, at only 5.6 inches wide and deep. Take it with you on holiday - and you'll be sure to be inspired while watching that lovely sunset. Take it with you on your travels to and from work and you'll be able to get back to 'yourself' and face office troubles with a more equanimical attitude.

The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress, John D. Teasdale, J. Mark G. Williams and Zindel V. Segal.

A worked out MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) series in the classic 8 weeks the program takes. Aimed at people who are depressed, it can be a bit on the heavy side. However, it does normalize depression symptoms by naming them and helping you recognize where you are and to what extent your own interpretation of events and yourself is shaped by your mood.

Audio only:

Mindfulness Meditation: Nine Guided Practices to Awaken Presence and Open Your Heartby Tara Brach PhD

Tara Brach has quite a name in the Buddhist meditation field with books like Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha

This audio CD has meditation tracks for up to 20 minutes to help bring mindfulness to your daily life. Users recommend her clear speaking voice as well as the wisdom and inspiration these tracks bring to their lives.

Aimed at beginners.

Natural Awareness: Guided Meditations and Teachings for Welcoming All Experience, Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron is one of my favorite Buddhist authors. In this audio CD she goes through the basis of Buddhist mindfulness: the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, emotions, thoughts and sense perceptions.

The four foundations are basic Buddhism in the sense that they're shared between all strands of Buddhism. In most of her work Pema Chodron uses inspiration from the Mahayana and (even more specific) Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This CD goos to the root of all Buddhist meditation practice, if you will. 

Don't be fooled into thinking that something 'basic' is easy. It is enough for a life-time of practice.