5 of the best inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books – and why you should listen rather than read this season. 

5 of the best inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books

What do you listen to at night before you go to bed? A podcast? The radio? The sound of the weather or the hum of the street outside your window? I tend to think you can’t beat a book at bedtime and I’ve recently gotten into audio books. In this post I want to share 5 of the best, calming and inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books on offer at the moment — and, why you might prefer to listen rather than read them this season. 

Read me a story…

Story telling is an age old, highly nurturing past time that shouldn’t be reserved for children at bedtime. With audio books us adults can enjoy that captivated, cared for feeling too. 

Audio entertainment = rested eyes

According to a recent survey by CNN the average American spends 10 hours a day looking at a screen. But with audio books you can get lost in a story or soak up insightful information without having to look at a screen during your down time, giving your eyes a much needed rest. Some audio books use a basic narrators voice, but nowadays many of the best titles are brought to life in audio format by a full cast with sound effects. (Northern Lights,  which I have recommend below, is very beautifully narrated!) 

Mindfulness books – solo or socially?

You can listen to your favourite mindfulness audio books alone at home one evening while you cook or clean, Or perhaps while riding the train, lounging on the sofa or resting in bed. Plus, If you find a title you both enjoy it can be good fun to listen to an audio book with your partner or friend. This way you can chat about the themes and ideas between chapters. 


Emmas Pick For Autumn / Winter 2021:

5 of the most calming and inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books to listen to this season. 

We’re well into the cooler months of autumn / winter here in the UK I’ve been collecting a few recommendations for great mindfulness related audio books. There are so many to choose from, and with this post I’ve chosen titles that are well loved – the kind you’d listen to more than once, and those that have a broad appeal – not too tricky to understand or too specialised. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

1. Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman

Read To: Invigorate your imagination and enjoy the childlike innocence of fantasy. 

Think: Harry Potter riding through the underground philosophy section at Blackwells books in Oxford on a talking armoured polar bear.

I first read this three part fantasy tale in 2011 and I loved the magical world it conjured in my mind. Northern lights is technically a young adults book, but, if you liked the Harry Potter books, or if you love being immersed in mystical worlds filled with wizards, speaking polar bears and magical compasses, you will enjoy this story whatever your age. I listened to the Northern Lights trilogy (His Dark Materials) once again on Audible last year and I have to say – I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time round.

2. The Power Of Now By Eckhart Tolle. 

Read to: Be enlightened 

Think: Spiritual sayings, meditations, thoughts experiments, philosophy, psychology, love, happiness, freedom!

I read The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle while at University studying Psychology and it was a real eye opener. My lecturer recommended it to me after class one day, although it wasn’t on the official psychology curriculum at my school, and the themes in the book weren’t taught in classes. This is something I now find quite surprising, considering how well Eckhart describes the human psyche, and how profoundly he contemplates the nature of experience.

I’ve re-read The Power Of Now several times since then and I truly feel it is a classic, so do give it a listen. Some say they find it a book tricky to get to grips with, and if you find the same thing my advice is to listen to one small passage at a time – and then let it percolate a little bit in your mind. Perhaps follow it with a nice walk in nature as you consider what’s been said. 

Many of the ideas he shares are quite novel or even contrary to our habitual way of thinking about ourselves and our lives and so it’s totally understandable that it might take a bit of digesting. But it’s worth it, so persevere.

Tip: Get your friends to listen to The Power Of Now on audio book too, and then you can share ideas and insights together. 

3. A Poem For Every Day Narrated by Helena Bonham Carter

Good for: Bite size beauty

Think: A magnificent collection of 366 poems covering the changing seasons and important dates through the year – funny, beautiful and festive!

’Go to work on an egg’ was a famous marketing slogan from The British Egg Marketing Board in the 50’s and 60s’ designed to encourage people to soak up the supposed benefits of eggs at breakfast time. I don’t know about eggs, but I do think you should go to work on a poem! 

They spark joy, refresh your thinking and get you into a lovely mindful state. If you love to listen to poetry or enjoy being serenaded with beautiful and splendid words of a morning, Helena Bonham Carter and friends are here to read you a lush poem on every day of the year. 

Tip: One morning this week why not wake up and prepare a nice hot tea. Sit down someone comfy and listen to the a poem. Then if it feels right, close your eyes and enjoy a few minutes of meditation. Et voila, a lovely way to start your day. 

4. Sapiens by Yuval Harrai 

Good for: Looking back. Looking forward. Better understanding what’s happening right now.

Think: A clear, well thought out and insightful round up of human history from the ancient times, through various agricultural and industrial revolutions up to today – and then into the high tech future. 

If you ever feel like you’re walking on shifting sand, something I like to do to get a better foot hold is to zoom right out and start learning about history. What happened a hundred years ago? 1000 years ago? What happened to the lives of people who survived great hardships, health crises or revolutions? How many civilisations has earth seen? Zooming out like this can offer a helpfully broad view of life today. 

A book about history runs the risk of being a bit dry and boring – but this book is quite engaging.  I particularly enjoyed the part in the agricultural section where he ponders whether man cultivated grain, or if grain cultivated man.

Cue up Yuval Harris book sapiens for a walk through human civilisation. When you finish it, you can read his next book Homo Deus which is all about the future. 

5. Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn

Good for: Being more mindful

Think: Being able to accept the madness, embrace yourself and be in the moment.

While discovering history is great, another calming option is to go micro, and meditate. Close your eyes and go all the way inside to the heart of things, attending not to the outside world but to the quiet, simple presence in you. Think of it like settling into the eye of the storm. The more you do it the more you deepen your familiarity with that quiet, calm spot. 

I’ve written about meditation in every day life here, and if you’ve not yet read my book I’d love you to get a copy and try it for yourself. And, if it’s a comprehensive mindfulness audio book you’re looking for this season why not try John Kabat Zinns ‘Wherever You Go There You Are’. His writing is illuminating, compassion, and very warm and friendly!

I do hope you enjoyed my pick of the 5 most calming and inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books out today, and that you feel inspired to listen rather than read this season. 

Have you read any of these books? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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5 of the best inspiring mindfulness and personal development audio books - and why you should listen rather than read this season. 
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