5 Best Jon Kabat-Zinn Books on Mindfulness (With Reviews)

This article is for you if you’re looking for accessible and beginner-friendly books on mindfulness.

If you’ve heard about mindfulness, you’ve also heard about the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, which combines meditation and yoga to help people manage stress and illness. Its author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a renowned American scientist, writer, and meditation teacher who is at the forefront of bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Kabat-Zinn’s contribution to the field of mindfulness has helped many people around the world understand and practice meditation. In this article, I bring you the best Jon Kabat-Zinn books on mindfulness with reader reviews.

1. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment — and Your Life

If you want to feel connected, deeply truly connected, to every experience in your daily life, Mindfulness for Beginners will be your guide.

You can use it in three different ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding lesson-a-day primer on mindfulness practice.

Whatever way you choose, you will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential mindfulness practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn have found most useful when teaching his students.

Reader review:

I suggest everyone read this. It has short, easy to read chapters even for busy people. The principles in the book are practical and doable. It has lots to teach us on the topic of mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to focus back on what’s important and what’s at hand right now. It’s about being kind to ourselves first then to others. In our busy world, we all could use more mindfulness in every day. Great book.

2. The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

If you feel trapped in the cycle of chronic unhappiness, this book will show you a way out, illuminated by the power of mindfulness, a simple yet profound technique of paying attention to your most difficult emotions and experiences.

In The Mindful Way Through Depression, Jon Kabat-Zinn and three other qualified experts explain why trying to “think” your way out of a bad mood will only lead you deeper into the downward spiral.

Drawing from both Eastern meditative traditions and cognitive therapy, authors demonstrate how to break the mental habits that lead to depression, including self-blame and rumination, so you can become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. The book includes guided meditations narrated by Jon Kabat-Zinn, making it an excellent resource for those seeking to improve their well-being.

Reader review:

I have been an evangelist for this book since I started reading it. I preface my sharing with “disregard the word depression in the title, this book is a fantastic book for anyone”. By practicing what the authors have outlined in this book you can experience deeper and deeper levels of joy, satisfaction and success in your life. That is my claim, not theirs.

This book is about becoming conscious of ourselves – thoughts, feelings, memories we are experiencing in the moment. As we become more and more conscious we have more choice. We can choose to continue to dwell on something that adds no value to our lives or we can choose to focus on what we want and what we can appreciate in this moment.

3. Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness

If you want to learn about the connection between mindfulness and our physical and spiritual well-being, you need to read Coming to Our Senses.

Its pages are full of poetic deftness, scientific rigor, and compelling personal stories which describe simple and intuitive ways of understanding our beauty, our genius, and our life path in a fractured and fear-driven world of today.

You’ll learn that cultivation of conscious awareness leads to the realization of our wholeness, that we don’t just live within the envelope of our own senses, but within the whole of all that is. In the book, this way of being is presented not only through Buddhist understanding but with insights and quotes from Einstein, Rilke, Dickinson, and other great Western minds.

Reader review:

This book talks of the importance of “falling awake,” instead of remaining on autopilot and often unconscious. The mind, body and emotions have been conditioned to automatically react, instead of paying attention and responding to what is unfolding before us, moment by moment. It mentions the importance of paying attention to what is occurring right now, and observing it, not judging or having opinions about it, not pursuing or rejecting it, but simply observing it, allowing it to be, and allowing it go and to pass, as it will. It reminds us to be present in the present moment, and to learn how to be more mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are occurring right now. Jon Kabat-Zinn writes eloquently and beautifully.

4. Everyday Blessings: Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

If you want to become a better parent with the power of mindfulness, Everyday Blessings: Inner Work of Mindful Parenting is your essential guide.

The bestselling author and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn has joined forces with his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn, to share intuitive and deeply personal experiences of parenthood to show you a path that leads to deeper empathy and love both for your children and yourself.

Sometimes, your child’s emotional intensity can feel like an assault on your senses, resulting in reactivity and stress. This book will show you what you should do with your energy and thoughts in such a scenario and many others, while also improving your outlook and level of contentment.

Reader review:

This is not a how-to parenting manual — it doesn’t provide (or claim to provide) specific advice on feeding, sleeping, discipline, etc. It is the story of one couple’s personal experience with their own three children, and their efforts to raise those children compassionately and mindfully in a frantic, materialistic world. The authors clearly believe strongly in their own choices (extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc.), but do not condemn those who do not adhere to that exact parenting style.

Can anyone (even the authors) maintain Zen-style tranquility at every moment as parents? Of course not. If I compared myself to everything in this book all the time I would feel awful! But the overall concept — paying attention to everyday moments with a child — is an important one. The book talks about parenting as an up and down, winding journey, and it has many wonderful examples of how self-awareness can bring parents and children closer together as children grow.

It’s beautifully written and will be on my shelf for years to come, especially for when I need encouragement in the hard moments of raising my son.

5. Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Practices to Reclaim Your Body and Your Life

You already know that mindfulness can reduce stress and help you achieve embodied well-being. But did you know that it can also become a vital tool in dealing with physical pain?

Your pain may be unavoidable, but suffering, the way you relate to pain, can be optional. This is one of many benefits of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It helps patients with ongoing chronic pain use mindfulness to regulate and attenuate the experience of suffering.

In Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief, Jon Kabat-Zinn draws from his experience of working with patients in MBSR program, to guide you through a series of evidence-based practices that you can apply to address even intense forms of physical pain, serving as a vital addition to the medical treatments you might already be receiving.

Reader review:

After living with chronic pain for a year, and trying every pain treatment modality available to me, I turned to meditation as a last ditch effort to make my chronic physical pain bearable. I will be honest, I haven’t listened to the first CD at all, I’ve skipped straight to the tracks on the second CD that get into the actual meditative exercises. Mr. Kabat-Zinn’s voice is unbelievably soothing…almost too soothing (I fall asleep listening to the CD more often that I would like, though I guess that means it is working, since I used to be kept up by the chronic pain).

Today, after returning to work in my office, after working from home for a year, I felt quite a bit of pain. In my chair, I practiced a couple of the meditation exercises at my desk and immediately felt my pain lessen. The best part, unlike pain medication, the meditation did not make me sleepy, and unlike other external means of dealing with pain, no one was the wiser that I was practicing breathing and visual imagery techniques while working. I would highly recommend this CD for people living with chronic pain who are trying to deal with the pain in a natural, low-key way. No meditation experience needed for the practices/exercises taught in this CD.

Complement this list of best Jon Kabat-Zinn books on mindfulness with our article about best mindfulness books by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Man reading a book with text overlay: Best Mindfulness Books by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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