1) Self-Compassion for Dummies
Is there an oxymoron in the title? To be sure. But, as Steve Hickman observes, “Being willing to purchase a book called Self-Compassion For Dummies means that you are humble and receptive to change, which is actually exactly where you need to be to get the most out of this book.” All humble and receptive readers will discover “a veritable self-compassion buffet” in this new title, which leaves no stone unturned in the service of informing and guiding us to be kinder to ourselves.
While each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the practice, a key theme throughout is that self-compassion ultimately means asking ourselves one question: “What do I need?” Easier said than done. Hickman—a longtime teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion, and Founding Director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness—leads us in his witty and reassuring way, starting with defining self-compassion and its three components of mindfulness, common humanity, and kindness. He briefs us on the science of self-compassion, followed by sections like “How Kindness Transforms in the Fire of Life,” and “Dancing with the Inner Critic and Making Change.” We unpack myths about self-compassion: that it’s “soft” or “feminine,” or that it’ll make you lose your edge—in fact self compassion (like mindfulness) is more likely to up your purpose, motivation, and clarity. At the same time, it does ask us to be less hard on ourselves: “ Moments of self-compassion are actually moments of ease, comfort, and encouragement, not striving, forcing, or berating,” Hickman reminds us. Self-compassion isn’t a mechanism to push through or ignore difficult emotions. Rather, it’s “a means of encountering these feelings, not to control them but to change your relationship with them”—and this book will do as much as any book can to teach you how. – AT
2) Savor Every Bite
Mindful Ways to Eat, Love Your Body, and Live with Joy
The relationship a person has with food is an intimate one. As a toddler, you might look at food as a plaything—but as we grow older our relationship with food can become complicated, as it begins to influence how we view ourselves and our self-worth. Lynn Rossy’s Savor Every Bite is a compassionate response to a culture with extremely strict beauty standards, a culture that often makes a lot of us feel like outsiders. It’s a book that attempts to cut through the external noise and invites us to simply listen to our body and heart. Rossy breaks down a journey of self-love and discovery into five chapters including short mindful practices, with a clear and distinct goal: to love your whole self, rather than picking it apart. – OL
3) Mindfulness for Teenage Anxiety 2nd Edition
In the seven years since the first edition of this practical, approachable workbook, the number of teens who report living with anxiety has doubled, from one in six to one in three. So this revised and updated edition is welcome, with new material on social media, school anxiety, bullying, and more. Christopher Willard brings years of experience with young people to bear in this clear, simple, deep but never clinical examination of what anxiety is and feels like, what might trigger it, and how mindfulness can help ease it. The workbook is addressed directly to teens and it takes them seriously, neither trying to seem cool, nor talking down to them. The workbook exercises are thorough and helpful, without being overwhelming, and additional resources are available for download. – SD
4) Teacher Burnout Turnaround
Strategies for Empowered Educators
It took a global pandemic to highlight the burden essential workers carry for us, and when children had to be taught remotely, the plight of teachers literally came home to us. Tish Jennings—a true education pioneer who is cofounder of CARE, a well-researched mindfulness-based professional development program, and codeveloper of The Compassionate Schools Project—traces the sources of teacher burnout to a “factory farm model…designed to produce uniform students, assessed by a standard that stigmatizes, rather than celebrates, differences,” where teachers are asked to “teach twenty-first century skills in a nineteenth century system.” Part 1 expands on this diagnosis. Part 2 explores thinking differently about schools, using systems and design thinking, less linear approaches to achieving big aims. Part 3 provides a path forward, where students take charge of their learning and teachers find the resilience and renewal needed to lead a life devoted to foster-ing others’ discoveries. – BB
5) The Healing Otherness Handbook
Overcome the Trauma of Identity-Based Bullying and Find Power in Your Difference
Dr. Stacee Reicherzer takes the reader’s hand on a journey of healing to help us see where the pain of being “othered” (cast out or separate from the crowd) is showing up in our lives in a limiting way. Then, she equips the reader with practical (and joyful) tools to move forward. The tools? Clarity, compassion, creativity, and sass. That last one is essential—to have the audacity to find empowerment and move on, even when some believe you should stay stuck. She writes, “Sass is the bold, resilient, spirited essence of our nature that yearns to be free.”
Dr. Stacee opens the book with a visceral account of her experience of otherness as a transgender woman and uses her own story, as well as others’, to debunk myths we tell ourselves about why we should be satisfied or even grateful with less than we deserve. Mindfulness practices throughout the book help us put these truths into action.
3 Mindful Podcasts to Listen to Now
1) Walking Each Other Home
Episode: “The Importance of Narrative in Social Justice, with Rhonda v. Magee”
Old friends and mindfulness experts Mirabai Bush and Rhonda Magee engage in a rich conversation about how narrative—listening to others’ stories and experiences—helps extend our empathy and understanding. Magee draws a direct line between mindfulness and antiracism work as “a way in which to fully engage our practice…to move from the cushion into the world, supported and informed by our practice. Mindfulness is a perfect technology for working with racism and other isms.” Magee notes that being inclusive with our language, and imbuing it with love and kind-ness, is vital if we are going to hear each other’s stories and learn from them. – SD
In this open conversation with Laugh4apurpose host “Big Kev,” Jason Gant, Athletic Mental Skills Coach at Village-Tribe and Behavioral Health Educator at Kaiser Perman-ente, discusses FAQs about mindfulness. Most answers touch on a guiding concept: Mindfulness is something that we all naturally possess. “Anyone listening to this, anyone here today, they are life practitioners of mindfulness,” Gant says. He furthers his point with examples of how mindfulness shows up in everyday life (stopping to look both ways before crossing a street, or savoring the suds and warm water in the shower). And he affirms that through practice, we can bring that level of awareness to each moment. – KR
3) Men Talking Mindfulness
Episode: “Stop Complaining???”
Hosts Jon Macaskill, a retired Navy SEAL Commander, and “hippie meditation teacher” Will Schneider give us a lot to appreciate in this podcast: starting each episode with a grounding practice; honestly sharing what’s going on in their lives; and interpreting topics through their experience and growth points. Here, they talk about engaging mindfulness when patience is in short supply—what’s getting fired up in your body and mind at times of inconvenience or delayed gratification? “You can’t practice patience if you’re not mindful,” says Macaskill. “When you’re attempting to remain calm and not reacting, that is you being patient, and being mindful, one and the same.” – AT
From unwinding anxiety thought loops to exploring mindfulness for adult ADHD, here’s what the editors at Mindful are reading this month. Plus, three mindful podcasts in our playlists.
From bringing yogic wisdom off the mat to mindfulness for chronic pain, here are six books and three podcasts the Mindful editors recommend.
What’s on your reading list for 2021? To get you started, here are 10 books (and three podcasts) that help us reflect, celebrate, practice, and find balance.