Living in the moment is another way of describing mindfulness, something many apply to their daily lives.
It means observing your surrounding in the present and being in touch with your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.
To get you started with this vital life skill, here are some of the best books on the subject.
The Best Books on Living in the Moment
1. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle
The title says it all, really. Tolle draws on various spiritual traditions to explain the benefits of self-reflection and living in the moment. The book argues that the present is the only real time period – everything else is constructed.
It uses this argument to help you let go of any feelings of control over your life, as it’s only the present that matters. Rather than completely letting go of the future, the book explains how your present is more important.
The book provides an overarching understanding of mindfulness and meditation concepts to slow down to avoid stress. Overall, it’s a comprehensive look at the failings of modern life.
Personally though, I struggled to relate to Tolle’s description of his ‘awakening’, having never encountered anything similar in my own life. If you can get past this, the book is incredible.
- Teaches important mindfulness techniques.
- Useful for reducing stress.
- Uses spirituality without being spiritual.
- ‘Awakening’ story potentially unrelatable.
2. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World – Mark Williams and Danny Penman
The aim of this book is to be approachable and usable for the everyday person. Despite being written by an Oxford professor, it manages to achieve this.
It offers a range of simple yet effective mindfulness techniques that can be used every day. The book teaches relaxation and stress reduction based on methods that you could apply at your desk, during your commute, and so on.
Unlike some other mindfulness books, it doesn’t rely heavily on philosophy and spirituality. Instead, it gets straight to the point and knows its modern audience wants quick, easy techniques.
Its main downside is that it relies on the reader finding up to 20 minutes a day to practice. Some might find this difficult, although this isn’t really the book’s fault. Providing you can find the time, its techniques will be useful.
- Easy to read.
- Applicable techniques for reducing stress.
- Doesn’t rely on spiritualism or philosophy.
- Some might struggle to find time every day to practice.
3. The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide to Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and prolific author. He writes books for modern audiences that apply ancient Buddhist techniques, and this one is no exception.
Mindfulness, in essence, comes from meditation techniques, so who better to explain it than a Buddhist? Hanh uses clear and accessible language with occasional humour to provide an easily readable book.
It teaches the reader everyday mindfulness skills, focusing on slowing life down and appreciating the positives. One example he uses is turning the washing up into a period of meditation.
The first half of the book is light and airy, but it gets far more complex in the second half. Some readers might find this too heavy going considering the topic, but it’s worth sticking with.
- Written by a world-renowned Buddhist master.
- Teaches everyday mindfulness skills.
- Language is mostly readable.
- Second half of the book is heavy going.
4. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn created the University of Massachusetts’ Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness. He also studied under various Buddhist teachers during his career. As such, it’s fair to assume he knows what he’s talking about.
The book focuses on meditation as a scientific practice, using Kabat-Zinn’s research. It offers exercises that are deliberately easy and can be done anywhere with any free time you might have.
In theory, its teachings are helpful for newcomers and experienced meditators alike. However, those with experience might find them a bit vague, as is the case with introductory texts.
This is because the author doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of meditation techniques which might make some feel the content is too fluffy. Even so, there should be some helpful nuggets in there.
- Based on the author’s career.
- Comes from a leader in the field.
- Uses science to back up claims about meditation.
- Possibly nothing new for those versed in the topic.
5. Mindfulness in Plain English – Bhante Gunaratana
A common problem with mindfulness and meditation books is industry jargon. This is an issue with many self-help industries. But, as the title suggests, this book approaches the topic in simple, plain language.
It guides you through what it considers to be the facts and fictions of meditation while also providing helpful techniques. There are plenty of exercises and meditation strategies to help you reduce stress and live in the moment.
The writing style makes it useful for newcomers, as they don’t have to learn specific language. But, it’ll help experienced practitioners too by breaking through established lingo.
One sacrifice it does make is the depth it goes into. It’s a side-effect of the language style, as the easiest way to avoid jargon is not to mention it. The book serves as a useful supplement to others above, as you could use it almost like a glossary for harder texts.
- Deliberately simple approach to mindfulness.
- Separates fact from fiction.
- Useful for newbies and experienced meditators.
- Does lack some depth.
Learning to live in the moment takes practice, particularly letting go of the past and future. However, when done properly, it can certainly reduce stress and anxiety.
Hopefully, one (or more) of the above books will get you on your way to mindfulness.
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