Mindfulness for Dummies

What’s the ideal mindfulness book? Personally I don’t really need to read another book EXPLAINING mindfulness. The term is confusing, very general and even somewhat misleading. And no book I’ve read deals with any of that (1). Instead most mindfulness books I’ve read treat mindfulness like it’s pretty straight forward. Which, in a way, it also is. However, most books do insist on explaining in great detail what it’s good for. You’ll get the usual: great for dealing with stress, it will help you gain concentration and self knowledge etc. Many people become happier as a result of mindfulness. Some of these claims have been verified scientifically, others haven’t and mindfulness for dummies will not help you figure out which is which.

The only thing I really wanted from a mindfulness book are the meditations, either in the shape of audio, or in the shape of meditation outlines. Meditation has already helped me become happier, so I don’t need convincing of it’s importance. Perhaps I ought to have tried Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies instead. It apparently includes audio available for download after purchase even with the Kindle version.

Back to the book I did read most of: Mindfulness For Dummies. While also explaining way too much for my taste, it does in fact offer short meditations and exercises in the text that can be tried at home. The advantage of getting text, instead of audio, is that you can do them in your own time, at your own speed. While Shamash recommends daily sessions of 20 minutes each, for 2 months, the book is very useful even if you are not ready for that kind of commitment or have (like me) other meditation practices this is latched onto, curtailing time available for this specific practice.

The book is all you’d expect from a book in the ‘For Dummies’ series: well written, good explanations, easy to follow and well structured. And yes, if you want to know ABOUT mindfulness as well as try it out a bit, this is definitely a good book to get you started.

Personally I don’t consider Mindfulness for Dummies by Shamash Alidina to be my ideal mindfulness book, but it is definitely one of the best in its class. If you get the physical version, it includes a CD with audio meditations, which I’m sure many people will enjoy. I personally went for the kindle version which did not have audio. I did however enjoy the descriptions of meditations and gratitude exercises and liked doing them.

(1) Mindfulness is basically an umbrella term that started out as a translation for the Theravada Buddhist ‘sati’ (smrti), which describes all sorts of dimensions of Buddhist meditation, including meditation on the breath and meditating on death and impermanence. The term mindfulness has come to include positive psychology exercises like meditating on gratitude as well as body-scan exercises. Mindfulness for Dummies takes a non-Buddhist secular approach to mindfulness.