I am often asked to recommend books on mindfulness and generally recommend the seminal and extremely accessible book Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams and Danny Penman as a first port of call for people.
However, if you really want to get to the essence of mindfulness then it really is worth reading a book written by the father of secular mindfulness Jon Kabat-Zinn. Full Catastrophe Living is his bestseller and is essential reading for teachers of mindfulness. However, it is a fairly weighty tome so if you wish to read something of his but are pushed for time then I highly recommend the book Wherever You Go, There You Are.
Here are some of the ‘big ideas’ he covers and some small exerts to give you an idea of what to expect from the book.
On meditation he writes:
“In most domains of learning…of course you have to see progress sooner or later to keep at something. But meditation is different. From the perspective of meditation, every state is a special state, every moment a special moment.”
“People often confuse meditation with relaxation….when once or twice you try [meditating] and don’t get anywhere or you didn’t feel anything special, then you think you are one of the people who can’t do it. But meditating is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.”
“True meditation does require energy and a commitment to stick with it…To make it part of your life requires some discipline.”
“Meditation does not involve trying to change your thinking by thinking some more. It involves watching thoughts itself.”
On the breath he states:
“As you begin befriending your breath, you see immediately that unawareness is everywhere. ”
On mindfulness he comments:
” You don’t have to go out of your way or find someplace special to practice mindfulness. It is sufficient to make a little time in your life for stillness and what we call non-doing.”
“We see that the mind has gotten cluttered over the years, like an attic, with old bags of accumulated junk. Just knowing this is a big step in the right direction.”
On patience he remarks:
“Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger.”
It really is an excellent book which presents mindfulness in a beautifully simple (and non-faddish!) way. I recommend anyone interested in mindfulness reads it.