6 Mindful Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

From bringing yogic wisdom off the mat to mindfulness for chronic pain, here are six books and three podcasts the Mindful editors recommend.

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1) Yoke

My Yoga of Self-Acceptance

Jessamyn Stanley •
Workman Publishing

Jessamyn Stanley lets it all hang out in this collection of essays, her follow-up to the wildly successful Every Body Yoga. Stanley came to prominence on Instagram, and that might make some discount her out of hand. But, through her Instagram and in the pages of Yoke, Stanley reveals herself to be deeply authentic as both a student and a teacher of yoga. Where Every Body Yoga primarily offered richly illustrated suggestions for practicing physical yoga along with some personal stories and dips into the history and spirituality of yoga, Yoke concerns itself with every aspect of yoga, and Stanley’s life in it: “I call it the yoga of everyday life,” she writes. She shares candidly about living her yoga in a fat, Black body under a white supremacist system. She tackles her own uneasiness about cultural appropriation, as a Black southern practitioner who has learned to read and write some Sanskrit words, but does not find her place in classical yoga lineages. She writes movingly about her journey to self-acceptance, and self-love, and the many roadblocks along the way.

If you require your books about yoga and meditation to be primly reverential, Yoke is not the read for you. Here, Stanley gets extremely real about the trials and tribulations of yoga on and off the mat, with writing that is friendly and familiar, peppered with swears and slang and moments of hilarity, a dash of spirituality, and the occasional side order of astrology. If you like Stanley on Instagram, you’ll love her in Yoke—and if you’ve ever felt like you didn’t belong on a yoga mat or meditation cushion, Stanley’s honest writing, fresh insights, and unabashedly fun approach ought to make you feel right at home, wherever you are. – SD

2) Welcome Home

A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul

Najwa Zebian • Harmony Books

Welcome Home follows the structural metaphor of building a house, as Lebanese-Canadian poet Najwa Zebian guides us to uncover and construct our way to feeling at home in ourselves. First, we deconstruct any obstacles to settling into our authentic, worthy selves so we can use the pieces to build the pathway that will point us in the right direction. By the end of the book, we have a fully formed, personalized home built with compassion, forgiveness, and clarity with the option to continue renovating. Zebian’s gentle and honest words hold the reader in an environment of realness and encouragement. Meeting us where we are, she equips us with tools and exercises that help us step into the role of architect. With her interwoven poetry and stories, she shows us her heart—and keeps us connected to our own. – AWC

3) Friendship in the Age of Loneliness

An Optimist’s Guide to Connection

Adam Smiley Poswolsky • Running Press

While forging friendship as an adult isn’t as easy as walking up to someone on the playground, Adam Smiley Poswolsky makes it seem that way in Friendship In the Age of Loneliness. A book aptly written during the COVID-19 pandemic, Poswolsky’s guide explores another grim epidemic in this digital age: loneliness. With wit and vulnerability, Poswolsky holds up the mirror to our social habits and provides us with the tools necessary to make changes in our lives and form genuine relationships. It’s a book that will make you chuckle, might make you squirm, but most of all, it will remind you of the importance of showing up and being present in a world of swipes and likes. – OL

4) Work Better Together

How to Cultivate Strong Relationships to Maximize Well-Being and Boost Bottom Lines

Jen Fisher and Anh Phillips •
McGraw Hill Education

Work has always been hard. That’s why they call it work. It’s also caused untold suffering over the centuries. In the modern era, though, we like to think work is much safer and saner. While that may be true in many ways, we’ve also been facing more insidious forms of workplace injury. Technologies supposed to ease work’s burden have created more strain and pain than flexibility and freedom. In a Deloitte Consulting survey mentioned in Work Better Together, “three out of four respondents said they have experienced burnout.”

As Deloitte’s Chief Well-Being Officer in the US and host of the WorkWell podcast, Jen Fisher focuses on building a workplace culture of well-being. Anh Phillips, a leading researcher at Deloitte, and coauthor of The Technology Fallacy, promotes the understanding that for technologies to deliver on their transformational promises, cultures must be developed that foster sound human interactions with technology and with each other. That is, we need to make “our interaction with technology benefit our individual and collective well-being as much as our productivity.” And while we are more connected than ever digitally, we’re “actually connecting less.” Phillips shares a poignant story of bringing her daughter to a family dinner, excited that she would have lots of time to hang out with her cousins, but the children spent all their time on devices, leaving Phillips’s daughter bored and sad.

Are we doing any better at work? Each day the average knowledge worker, the authors report, gets 100 emails and is interrupted over 50 times. New tech forces rapid change, as if a carpenter had to learn how to use a new-fangled hammer every month. The “workism” lifestyle is rampant—eat at desk, work late in-office and at home, check messages anywhere anytime, earn your merit badge—leading to strain on “today’s most important work skills, like empathy, communication, and focus.” This is not a bad-news book, however. It’s filled with lots of personal stories, helpful prescriptions, illustrations, and wisdom about how to develop teams that “put people first, systems second.” – BB

5) Mindfulness and Self-Compassion for Teen ADHD

Mark Bertin and Karen Bluth •
New Harbinger

Research shows that mindfulness can benefit children and adolescents, but can a practice of paying attention work for young people who have ADHD? Yes, it can, write Bertin and Bluth, in this book that directly addresses teens, either with ADHD or whose symptoms may point to ADHD. The authors validate common ADHD challenges like high self-criticism, low confidence, and lack of understanding from family, teachers, or peers. Accessible yet never speaking down to young readers, they move through topics like why your brain may need extra support with self-management; notes on handling stress and being kinder to yourself (“Treat yourself as you would a friend”); working with your inner critic, and building new habits that support you. In-text mindfulness practices include links to the audio versions. Besides practices, there are sundry tips for applying mindfulness: while driving, at school, on social media. The authors present mindfulness and self-compassion as complementary to, not a substitute for, ADHD medications, which they emphasize should be discussed as an option with your caregivers and doctor. – AT

6) Outsmart Your Pain

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion to Help You Leave Chronic Pain Behind

Christiane Wolf, MD, PhD •
The Experiment

In the foreword, Dan Siegel writes, “The sensation of pain, when coupled with the resistance of the mind to accepting it fully as part of your life, leads to a magnification of your distress, which we can simply call ‘suffering.’” Our physical pain is “amplified” by resistance; we can learn to recognize and defuse a lot of its power using mindfulness. Physician and meditation teacher Christiane Wolf has taught mindfulness for people with chronic disease and pain since 2005. Here, she shares her wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Outsmart Your Pain features stories from patients, 10- to 15-minute guided practices designed for those coping with pain, and straightforward, research-supported advice to shift how we experience chronic pain—from battling it toward accepting it, tuning in to the body with self-compassion. “When pain is intense, it’s often hard to be aware of anything outside of the pain,” writes Wolf. “With increased awareness, though, the world starts to open up again.” – AT

3 Mindful Podcasts to Listen to Now

1) Life Kit

Episode: “You’re Probably Not As Open-Minded As You Think”

Rose Eveleth, creator of hit podcast Flash Forward, says shaping the future requires us “to reconsider pretty much everything.” It sounds like an easy feat for anyone willing to explore other perspectives (that are not dehumanizing or inherently racist). But here’s the catch: The odds of being openminded are stacked against us. We’re programmed with cognitive processes beyond our conscious awareness. With the help of experts in clinical psychology, Eveleth reveals open-mindedness as a personality trait we can hone through practice, and that requires dedication. For all of our benefit, Eveleth has smartly curated a sequence of five well-researched ways to be more open-minded.
– KR

2) The Mindful Healers Podcast

Episode: “What Would Love Do?”

This is the first episode of a series called Mindful Love, where Dr. Jessie Mahoney and Dr. Ni Cheng Liang offer insight into how mindfulness can support relationships. But in this episode, they offer a tool that can be transferred to any situation in which you wish another person were different than they are: Ask yourself, “What would love do?” First, consider what the loving response would be for yourself, then for the other person. From this place of spaciousness and curiosity we can move forward with intention. – AWC

3) Metta Hour with Sharon Salzberg

Episode: “Ep. 153 – Scott Shute”

Scott Shute wants to spend the rest of his career “operationalizing compassion at the company level.” In this in-depth conversation, the Head of Mindfulness and Compassion Programs at LinkedIn tells Sharon Salzberg about what that might look like in the corporate world. It’s about what Shute notes as moving from “me behavior to we behavior.” In day-to-day operations, it shows up in the workplace as choices that prioritize employee and customer well-being—honoring a user experience over generating clicks, or building a relationship over meeting a quota. And at the root of this shift is cultivating compassion for ourselves and others. – KR

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