The act of reading a book is a time-honoured way to connect us to the simpler things in life. It helps us make sense of the world in which we live. The age-old habit of sitting down in a quiet place, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee, and opening the pages of a book is in itself conducive to relaxing, learning and, as a result, relieving stress.
But what about going one step further? How about reading books that inspire you to engage in mindfulness and the slow life? Books, ebooks and audio books teach, inspire and help us to find our way to a simpler, more fulfilling life.
One of the surest ways to relieve stress is to opt for a simpler, happier lifestyle; one closer to that led by our previous generations. All of these books help teach us to slow down, to practice stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, minimalism and mindfulness. In other words, to take time out to smell the roses!
Here are a few titles to help you learn and practice methods of reducing stress in your life and reconnect with the simpler things in life.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is possibly one of the most respected spiritual leaders on our planet. His gentle lifestyle guidance and teachings are directed, not just at practitioners of Buddhism, but the whole world. In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness — in collaboration with psychiatrist Howard Cutler — teaches us there is a path towards happiness. The key is being able to recognise what in our lives causes us to be happy and then, by cultivating the right mental practice, we can achieve a balanced, contented state of mind.
Through stories and meditations, he shows us how to beat daily insecurities, anxieties and stress, leading us gently towards what he describes as “the purpose of life”, that of true happiness.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic guide to mindfulness is still considered one of the classics in its field, over thirty years after its original publication. Originally written as a letter to a fellow brother suffering under atrocities during the Vietnam War, Buddhist monk Thich uses stories and allegories to urge his brothers to continue on the mindfulness path.
The book has served as an instruction manual for the now widespread practice of meditation and has become recognised as a powerful guide to (in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s words) “show us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth”.
The Miracle of Mindfulness is full of thought exercises, allegories and wonderful examples of how to practice mindfulness in everyday living in commonplace acts such as washing up and drinking tea.
Clea Danaan’s book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens is a quirky, entertaining and informative book about how raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment can help get you back to the simpler things in life and reduce stress.
Written to make you smile as much as inform, the author nevertheless points to a few truths about chickens. Namely how their personalities, habits and idiosyncratic ways slow us down to their rhythms. Chapter titles such as “The Sound of One Wing Flapping” and “The Mind of the Chicken is Ungraspable” underline the way their “chickeny” characteristics can make us relax and laugh. Anecdotal evidence is (thankfully) abundantly documented by the author who also shows us the practical, healthy side of raising chickens in your own backyard.
Original and full of wit, yet containing a central truth about how keeping chickens can help ground us in a healthier, less stressful, more mindful lifestyle; Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens inspires and teaches as well as entertains.
Interested in learning more about simplicity and the power of meditation to change lives? Mindfulness in Action takes you to the very core of simplicity and awareness through meditation exercises and teachings. The author uses wisdom and insight to teach us to simply sit still and reconnect with the very concept of being human in our ever faster-paced world.
The book is edited by Carolyn Gimian, a longtime student and expert chronicler of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings. This remarkable book offers something for everyone, whether a novice or experienced meditator.
The art of minimalism revolves around doing more with less. In this fascinating account, author Francine Jay points to the benefits of decluttering your home or workspace, in a way that brings us back to simpler, more satisfying living.
Not only does the author give tips on how to save money by ridding your space of excess material, she also demonstrates how living with less can be a path to greater happiness and simplicity.
Reading is the ultimate activity in enjoying “quiet moments” that centre our days and help to reduce the stress in our lives. In doing so you are joining the generations of people before you, from mystics, to learned scientists, to poets and professors, to just lovers of a good book, all who have used the written word to learn, relax and relieve stress.
Join them and find out how books can change you to appreciate a slower, more relaxed and fulfilling life.