Why Should You Read A Mindfulness Book
Updated February 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Sonya Bruner
Recently, mindfulness has become immensely popular. As we look at ways to deal with our stressful lives a growing number of big companies are promoting mindfulness as a way to cope with ever demanding schedules. Even Google established an initiative to promote mindfulness to improve productivity and lower stress levels. Many people will swear that practicing mindfulness has revolutionized their lives.
What Is Mindfulness?
As a concept, mindfulness is quite abstract. People differ in what they consider mindful practice, but the key basis is that your mind is fully focused on what is happening in the now. We're often guilty of being semi-focused and of having other things going on mentally even when we're supposed to be focused on whatever we're doing. Our minds wander, we start getting more bogged down in our thoughts and less focused on what we're doing eventually leading to anxiety that the task isn't being completed properly.
Mindfulness means nothing more than being present and aware and it, not a reactive state or one that requires thought. It is merely an ability to focus your thoughts and not become overwhelmed.
What Does Mindfulness Help?
Eventually, with practice, mindfulness becomes something you do naturally even when you're doing mundane tasks like walking or sitting. It acts as short pauses within your life that are quite meditative even if you're not a natural meditator. The idea is that when you practice being mindful you'll feel less stressed, more insightful and be more attentive to things around us. When you meditate, you don't focus on what the outcome is, you focus on the present and try and hone your awareness by observing what goes on in your mind.
- Less Stress - stress is one of the biggest problems we encounter in our everyday lives. Stress is known to cause a variety of health issues and generally makes your life miserable. A study on MBSR shows that mindfulness can make a huge difference in tackling stress and many practitioners and studies have corroborated this. It creates new pathways in the brain so that our brains react differently to everyday stressors and treats them less as a "fight or flight" situation.
- Better Brain Function - people who practice mindfulness have better focus and are better thinkers. This has also been studied in aging brains, and the results show that people who are mindful as they age see less age-related degeneration. There have also been several studies linking mindfulness with improved depression symptoms and better mental health status.
- Improved Immune Function - while it might seem a stretch to connect the two studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness are not only overall healthier but are also better equipped to handle diseases like a common cold. Studies on patients with more difficult diseases like cancer have also shown improvements in morale and less pain than others receiving similar treatments.
- Improved Work/Academic Performance - The way memory works are to create a pathway and then use it over and over until it becomes familiar, however, when your brain is overwhelmed or overtaxed it can struggle to do this. Poor memory often means poor performance at work so by using mindfulness to improve memory and focus your performance will also improve. This has been studied with children, college level, and at the professional level. You're also less likely to experience burnout, and as an employer, you'll see fewer employees quitting for work-related stress.
Why Read A Book?
Unlike articles on the internet, books tend to go much more in-depth into their analysis and methods. This means that rather than a skimmed article which only gives you pointers you're more likely to get all the information you need to practice mindfulness successfully. This makes it easier to follow. Books are also more likely to be written by professionals or those who have enough experience to teach mindfulness rather than just "some guy" on the internet. Be sure to research your books beforehand to make sure that the book is going to be readable and in a style that you can understand. This is especially true of lots of 99c ebooks you can come across as these are often independently published with no editing or prior research done.
Another reason you should consider a book over articles is that you'll have to commit to paying for it. Paying for a physical item makes you more likely to use it because you've already invested something (money) into it, so you're more likely to invest the time. If you're working with a therapist, they may have even written a book of their own which they can suggest.
These are some of the top books in mindfulness:
- Why Does Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Work - Warren Tryon Ph.D
- Welcome to the Mind-Body Revolution - Marc Barasch
- Mind-Body Medicine - Daniel Goleman
Best Method To Learn Mindfulness
The best way to learn mindfulness is by trying. Every attempt you make at practicing mindfulness makes it more likely that you'll be able to continue doing it and be successful. Studies have shown that people who practice a habit for at least seven days are more likely to adopt it as part of their regular life. It's not uncommon to struggle when trying to learn mindfulness. The reason for this could be any number of things - your ability to focus may be so bad that it isn't soaking in, your method of learning isn't right for you, or you may have read the wrong material. There are many "right" ways to learn how to be mindful, but even with all of the many people struggle unless they're being led by someone who they can interact with directly.
Mindfulness is a term used in many types of therapy. Depending on your reason for learning mindfulness it's likely you'll be able to find a coach or therapist that can help you, they may even be able to help with the issues behind your need to learn it. Sites like BetterHelp have a variety of coaches and therapists on them. However, it's important to make sure you find the right one for you if you've been struggling to learn. It won't make any sense learning from someone who simply repeats methods you've already tried. IF you have concerns try and find someone who does a first session or consultation free so you can make sure you're on the same page before you commit to seeing them.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Another good reason you should read a mindfulness book is to decide if your issues may be more pressing than you think. All of us experience depression at some point in our lives, but for others, it can become a chronic problem. Depression has had a lot of press recently, and many celebrities are highlighting their struggles making the population at large examine their mental health. Mindfulness has been shown to have such a positive effect on depression that therapists are now using MBCT to help combat it.
MBCT helps patients connect with their moods and their mental processes through meditation and mindfulness so that they can adjust their attitudes and work with cognitive therapies to combat their depression. It works very similarly to CBT therapies. There are only a few therapists who specialize in MBCT which is why it's important to do your research on them if you think this method might work for you. This is mostly because there is no formal training for MBCT, but UCSD does have a certification for mental health professionals at their Center for Mindfulness - so check credentials first before making an appointment if you're specifically looking for MBCT. Jon Kabat-Zin developed the original mindfulness program specifically for stress reduction, but it has since been extended and connected with depression, but the theories behind its development are still being expanded.
MBCT works by teaching you to recognize when your thought patterns become negative or stuck and give you the tools to adjust your thought process. Unlike the natural tendency to try and bury these thoughts or ignore them it requires patients to approach them head-on. It also works for those with traumatic brain injuries, addiction, and anxiety disorders. This is usually done as a group therapy session and can be about 2 hours done once a week. The sessions will involve learning basic meditative practices while exploring the connection to your depression which can replace negative coping methods with tools that allow them to turn the thoughts positive again.
If you're considering MBCT then finding the right therapist is crucial, but if you're struggling with depression, it may be more important to find a therapist that can work with your issues overall rather than specifically because of MBCT. If you're struggling with your depression, and especially if you're dealing with thoughts of self-harm then it's important you seek help asap.