6 Mindfulness Books to Read on Cozy Winter Days

From the science of awe to navigating grief and loss, here are six mindful books and three podcasts to inspire your practice this winter.

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The latest mindfulness books range from covering the cutting-edge science of meditation and awe to mindfulness exercises for teens and navigating grief and loss. Here are the Mindful editors’ favorite new titles. 

6 New Mindfulness Books to Read

1. The Mindful Teen Workbook

Patricia Rockman, MD; Allison McLay, DCS; and M. Lee Freedman, MD • New Harbinger

Nothing can kill the spirit of genuine mindfulness more quickly than a one-size-fits-all attitude, and nowhere is that illustrated more potently than with teenagers. If you impose a fixed idea of anything from above and try to impose it—subtly or overtly—teens will reject it and rebel against it. 


Because they should know better? 


Because they do know better. 

The energy of inquisitiveness and questioning that is a hallmark of mid-adolescence—about 16 to 19 years old, since adolescence lasts from roughly age 12 to 24—is a developmental and societal necessity. Otherwise, no dynamic change would emerge from the next generation of people who will inherit what’s been left for them. If you’re going to teach folks from this age cohort anything, you have to do it in collaboration. 

That’s what’s so refreshing about The Mindful Teen Workbook. It’s far from the first mindfulness manual for teens, but it’s definitely an outstanding contribution to the existing literature, and it stands out for its inviting tone. Each chapter is filled with helpful prompts, such as exploring a time when you were really mad and what the sensations felt like. The journey is about inquiry, finding your own path, not indoctrination. 

The book emerged from programs developed at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, and it shows. It feels fresh yet also road-tested—you can hear the teachers listening on the page. And for adult helping professionals, there’s a downloadable guide they can use in leading groups of teens in exploring mindfulness. – BB

2. The Heart of Who We Are

Realizing Freedom Together

Caverly Morgan • Sounds True

“This book is for you,” Caverly Morgan emphasizes throughout its chapters. “Thank you for picking it up. For being in this conversation. For saying yes to this relationship.” That’s what reading the book feels like: a relationship. A meaningful discussion with a friend on privilege, societal conditioning, Love (with a capital L), belonging, and how we move “from the personal to the collective.” Morgan tells stories from her life as if we’ve known her for years and includes contemplative practices in each chapter for those practicing on their own, as well as instruction on how to practice in community. – KR

3. DEI Deconstructed

Your No-Nonsense Guide to Doing the Work and Doing It Right

Lily Zheng • Berrett-Koehler

Since the antiracist activism of 2020, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) interventions have received renewed interest and urgency. But DEI practitioner Lily Zheng observes that this complex work is frequently diluted to a once-and-done measure, instead of facilitating real (often uncomfortable) change. They don’t sugarcoat it: “Our organizations, and certainly our world, continue to be unacceptably inequitable, exclusive, and homogenous,” they write. Asking why that is leads into challenging topics: how to go beyond performative allyship; why unjust power dynamics may be invisible to people with privilege; what accountability, “the holy grail of DEI work,” really looks like. Grounded in current research and radical honesty, Zheng’s No-Nonsense Guide empowers all leaders to take action toward truly effective DEI. – AT

4. Navigating Grief and Loss

25 Buddhist Practices to Keep Your Heart Open to Yourself and Others

Kimberly Brown • Prometheus Books

With compassion and humility, teacher and author Kimberly Brown offers a hospitable respite of a book for anyone experiencing grief and loss. In this inclusive and kind volume, Brown uses heartfelt examples from her own life and relatable scenarios from others’ lives to illuminate kinds of grief we might be facing—whether as the result of a death that’s sudden or expected, the loss of a job, a marriage, or even the loss that arises when we realize our family doesn’t have our back the way we hoped they would. Though Brown references Buddhist teachings and practices here, she also provides secular interpretations that make this book truly useful and welcoming for any reader. The 25 practices she includes are delivered approachably and with beautiful encouragement, meeting readers wherever they may be. Brown is real about her own sometimes difficult journey with mindfulness meditation. She makes it clear that she has walked the walk—and that none of us need walk alone. – SD

5. Why We Meditate

The Science and Practice of Clarity and Compassion

Daniel Goleman and Tsoknyi Rinpoche • Atria Books

In each chapter of Why We Meditate, the ball begins in Rinpoche’s court. With warmth and candor, he invites the reader in with a compassionate and personal introduction to a common obstacle to well-being, such as the quick pace of modern life or unhelpful habits we’ve formed. He shares a Buddhist perspective on the topic at hand and skillfully folds in secular concepts and examples that keep the content clear and relatable for any audience, and offers detailed instructions for a meditation practice. Then, Goleman offers his own personal connection to the topic and grounds Rinpoche’s wisdom and advice with a deep dive into the neuroscience behind the practice. 

Beginning with the foundations of meditation, the content of this book builds to deep healing practices informed by Buddhist tradition, secular mindfulness, and the latest science. The coauthors offer a balanced, expansive, and profound dive into meditation for practitioners of every level, equipping the reader with a toolbox to go forward and bring their practice with them out into the world. – AWC

6. Awe

The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life

Dacher Keltner • Penguin Press

“Awe is about our relation to the vast mysteries of life,” writes Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor, researcher, and founding director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Amidst the positive psychology-led study of various emotions, awe—that expansive feeling we get from watching a baby take their first steps, or singing with a choir, or gazing into a dark sky rich with stars—was long ignored, until Keltner began investigating its significance. What he has learned over the last nearly two decades, and what he shares in this book, is vital to the science of human flourishing. “How does awe transform us? By quieting the nagging, self-critical, overbearing, status-conscious voice of our self, or ego, and empowering us to collaborate, to open our minds to wonders, and to see the deep patterns of life.” Awe itself represents one such pattern: Through collecting “awe stories” from 2,600 people around the world, his research team found that we all share similar sources of awe (e.g. nature, moral goodness, birth and death), regardless of factors like culture and language. 

Keltner’s book explores awe from four perspectives: the scientific, the personal, the cultural, and “the growth that awe can bring us when we face hardship, uncertainty, loss, and the unknown.” Awe is self-transcendent, reducing activity in the brain region that perceives ourselves as separate and self-interested. If we were instead more in touch with our “small self,” the self that exists within a wondrous universe, how would our orientation to purpose change? Our sense of love and belonging? What societal transformation would be within reach? Keltner takes us through all these and more possibilities in this book that is not only scientifically rigorous, but heartfelt and thoroughly inspiring. – AT

3 Mindfulness Podcasts to Listen to Right Now

Hidden Brain

Episode: “A Better Way to Worry”

“Our stock response when we hear a blaring alarm is to do one of two things,” host Shankar Vedantam says. “Turn it off or run in the opposite direction.” In this fascinating conversation with clinical psychologist and Future Tense author Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Vedantam explores what happens when we engage with our internal alarms with curiosity. Dennis- Tiwary offers a third response to a blaring alarm in your mind: Anxiety doesn’t need to be soothed. Instead, it can be honored. The paradox of anxiety, Dennis-Tiwary says, is that when you unpack the information anxiety presents, and take wise action based on that information, anxiety dissipates. – KR

On Being With Krista Tippett

Episode: adrienne maree brown,“We are in a time of new suns.” 

This friendly conversation between host Krista Tippett and influential author and steward of compassionate change adrienne maree brown is abundant with wisdom for our times. brown is a deep believer in the power of imagination to change the world, but also a realist about the challenges before humanity right now. The way she navigates the duality of hope and anxiety with grace in this conversation offers a strong reminder that we can hold space for both at once. She says, “We have no idea what we could be, but everything that we have been is falling apart. So it’s time to change. And we can be mindful about that. That’s exciting.” – AWC


Episode: “Understanding and Overcoming Burnout with Jennifer Moss”

Jennifer Moss, author of The Burnout Epidemic and Unlocking Happiness at Work, says we need an “ecosystems approach” to burnout. “There’s certain personalities at risk of burnout for sure,” she says, “But then there’s also organizations that need to play a role.” In this discussion with Deloitte Chief Well-Being Officer Jen Fisher, Moss acknowledges that shifting the entrenched causes of burnout is a tall order for managers. Still, she says, making “tiny, incremental changes” based on listening and empathy, that give employees greater agency and flexibility, can help a lot. So can the compassionate boundaries we choose for ourselves, to savor our whole lives, not just our jobs. – AT

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