You may not know this, but I am quite the book nerd – a voracious reader. In my beanbag with a cup of tea and a book equals heaven for me!

I’ve read or re-read some really amazing books this year on the art of mindful living. They’ve opened my mind and heart.

They’ve challenged old thinking, given me new insights and taught me how to live a more compassionate, wholehearted and mindful life. I’m so grateful to the authors.

Bean bag happy place

My beanbag, my happy place

Today I’m sharing with you the list of my favourites from this year. Plus below it I’ve put a list of ten of what I would consider to be the classic mindfulness must-read books. Maybe you can grab one to read over the holiday period. Enjoy : )

Here’s what I’ve read this year that I recommend getting your hands on…

Self Compassion: The Proven Power Of Being Kind To Yourself
Kristin Neff

This groundbreaking and easy-to-read book shows us how to let go of debilitating self-judgment and self criticism and finally learn to be kind to ourselves. Using solid empirical research, personal stories, humor and practical exercises, Kristen Neff walks shows how self compassion can help us  heal the wounds of the past, make more empowered choices in the present and live a more openhearted, full and balanced life.

My big takeaway: The self-compassion break exercise which I use now, every time I am experiencing painful emotions and difficult situations.

The Craving Mind
Judson Brewer

This book provides groundbreaking answers to the most important questions about addiction. Dr. Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has studied the science of addictions for twenty years, reveals how we can tap into the very processes that encourage addictive behaviours in order to step out of them.

He describes the mechanisms of habit and addiction formation, then explains how the practice of mindfulness can interrupt these habits. Weaving together patient stories, his own experience with mindfulness practice, and current scientific findings from his own lab and others, Dr. Brewer offers a path for moving beyond our cravings, reducing stress, and ultimately living a fuller life.

You Are Not Your Pain
Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman

I had read this before but read it again this year. It’s a beautiful book, my dear, friend by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman who themselves have struggled with severe pain after sustaining serious injuries.

Accompanied by a CD to guide you, the meditations and teachings in this book have been shown to be as effective as prescription painkillers to soothe some of the most common causes of pain. These practices soothe the brain’s pain networks, while also reducing the anxiety, stress, exhaustion, irritability, and depression that often accompanies chronic pain and illness.

I myself used to suffer from ongoing back pain but these days I am mostly pain free. I re-read this book though because the same principles apply to any kind of pain in life…and I have had quite a bit of loss and grieving to move through these past two years. This book has helped me immensely.

Journey of The Heart: Path of Conscious Love
John Welwood

As men and women find that they can no longer rely on old roles and formulas to get along, intimate relationships call for a new kind of honesty and awareness, a willingness to let go of old patterns and cultivate new capacities.

Journey of the Heart shows how we can rise to this challenge by learning to use whatever difficulties we face in relationships as opportunities to expand our sense of who we are and deepen our capacity to connect with others. This book is like a perfect and profound guidebook to conscious relationships. Highly recommended.

Daring Greatly by Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable, Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead
Brene Brown

Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.

To truly live a mindful life the lessons in this book really must be digested and, as best we can, lived every day.

I Need Your Love —  Is That True?
Byron Katie

This is an oldie but seriously a powerful goodie! I re-read it this year (for the 4th time I think). Byron Katie’s second book questions everything we have been taught to think and do to gain love and approval.

This book shows us how to make a transition to an effective, non-manipulative way of connecting with, and loving others. When you live your life focused on thoughts like ‘I need a man’ or ‘She doesn’t care about me’ you live in fear and end up lonely, stressed, heartbroken and depressed.

Through I Need Your Love – Is This True? Byron shows us how to inquire into many of the unquestioned beliefs we have lived by, explore what happens when we believe we need love, appreciation and approval from outside ourselves and the way to real love and mutual understanding. Highly, highly recommended.

True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Tara Brach

In this book, Tara offers a practical guide to finding our inner sanctuary of peace and wisdom in the midst of difficulty.

Based on a fresh interpretation of the three classic Buddhist gateways to freedom-truth, love, and awareness-True Refuge shows us the way not just to heal our suffering, but also to cultivate our capacity for genuine happiness.

The book reminds us of our own innate intelligence and goodness, making possible an enduring trust in ourselves and our lives. We realize that what we seek is within us, and regardless of circumstances, “there is always a way to take refuge in a healing and liberating presence.”

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom
Rick Hanson

This is another re-read. There’s so much in it that I’ll probably circle back to it again and again.

Science is now revealing how our thoughts actually sculpt the brain. By combining breakthroughs in neuroscience with insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, Rick shows you how you too, can use your mind to shape your brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom.

Buddha’s Brain draws on the latest research to show how to stimulate and strengthen your brain for more fulfilling relationships, a deeper spiritual life, and a greater sense of inner confidence and worth.

You’ll learn how to activate the brain states of calm, joy, and compassion instead of worry, sorrow, and anger. This clear, down-to-earth book is filled with practical tools and skills that you can use in daily life to tap the unused potential of your brain and rewire it over time for greater well-being and peace of mind.

Mating In Captivity
Esther Perel

Modern romance promises it all – a lifetime of togetherness, intimacy and erotic desire. In reality, it s hard to want what you already have. Our quest for secure love conflicts with our pursuit of passion. Often, the very thing that got us to into our relationships, lust, is the one thing that goes missing from them.

Determined to reconcile the erotic and the domestic, Perel explains why democracy is a passion killer in the bedroom. Argues for playfulness, distance, and uncertainty, and shows what it takes to bring lust home. Smart, sexy and explosively original.

This is an incredibly eye opening and important read for those interested in conscious sexuality and more mindful relationships. I love how Esther is willing to open up a dialogue about some of the greatest challenges of the modern form relationship.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story
Dan Harris

In his book 10% Happier Dan Harris takes us on a journey through how he tamed the monkey voice in his head, reduced stress without losing his edge, and found self-help that actually works. He shares with readers how everyone can be 10% happier by meditating.

Meditation, he says, can do everything from lower your blood pressure to completely eliminate your stress, and the negative voices in your head. As soon as you train yourself to control the flow of thoughts in your meditation class, you will be able to control them as well in the real world.

This book is a really fun, page turner to read. It would make a good holiday read and a great one for a gift for sceptics or people really new to mindfulness in general.

Altered Traits book

At my fav cafe this week (Woods in Bangalow) reading ‘Altered Traits’ by Dan Goleman and Richie Davidson.

Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body
Daniel Goleman and Richard J Davidson

This is what I am reading right now. It’s a bit of a nerdy one but also written beautifully and accessibly. A must-read for a true understanding of the current science of how meditation and mindfulness really affect us.

Unveiling the kind of cutting-edge research that has made them giants in their fields, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson show us the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it – to create long lasting deep positive change.

In the last twenty years, meditation and mindfulness have gone from being a kind-of-cool fringe activity to becoming band-aid for fixing everything from your weight to your relationship to your achievement level. This book sets the record straight.

Exciting, compelling, and grounded in new research, this intelligent book will help you ‘hack’ your meditation practice to ensure you’re practicing in the most effective way to get what you really want out of it.

The Classics

Full Catastrophe Living
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction programFull Catastrophe Living is a book for the young and the old, the well and the ill, and anyone trying to live a healthier and saner life in our fast-paced world.

The Power Of Now BookThe Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment
Eckhart Tolle

The bestselling spiritual book of its generation – and my favourite book of all time. It’s my bible. I have read it more times than I can count now. This book provides a clear path to waking up to who you really are. It has the power to make a profound difference in your life.

Waking From Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make Them Permanent
Steve Taylor

In this astounding book, Steve Taylor provides what is perhaps the first-ever clear explanation of higher states of consciousness, or ‘awakening experiences’.

By fully explaining awakening experiences, the author makes them much more accessible, which may lead to a revolution in our psychological development as human beings.

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
Russ Harris

Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression.

This empowering book presents the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioural psychology.

By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness (a technique for living fully in the present moment), ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life.

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
Byron Katie

Loving What Is will show you step-by-step, through clear and vivid examples, exactly how to question your thoughts and break free of their hold over you.  This book is simple and clear and offers everything you need to learn and live the process of enquiry, and to find happiness as what Katie calls ‘a lover of reality.’

I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, regarded by many as a “modern spiritual classic” is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer’s life and work

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Life can be relentless, frantic and exhausting – but it doesn’t have to be this way…Authoritative, beautifully written and much-loved by its readers, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World has become a word-of-mouth bestseller and global phenomenon.

Be Here Now
Ram Dass

Describes one man’s transformation upon his acceptance of the principles of Yoga and gives a modern restatement of the importance of the spiritual side of human nature.

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
Jon Kabat-Zinn

In this book, Jon Kabat-Zinn maps out a simple path for cultivating mindfulness in one’s own life. It speaks both to those coming to meditation for the first time and to longtime practitioners, anyone who cares deeply about reclaiming the richness of his or her moments.

Women, Food and God
Geneen Roth

After three decades of studying, teaching, and writing about our compulsions with food, bestselling author Geneen Roth adds a powerful new dimension to her work in Women Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: the way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive.

Women Food and God shows how going beyond the food and the feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul—to the bright center of your own life.

Learn the Art of Mindful Living with Melli O'Brien: