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Audiobooks to Deepen Your Mindfulness Practice

Melanie Bragg


  • These audiobooks offer a wealth of suggestions to help strengthen and deepen your mindfulness practices and improve your energy management.
  • The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks explains the upper limit problem, and Time Smart by Ashley Whillans teaches you to be time abundant instead of time poor.
  • The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn is based on scientific data on health and longevity in life, and Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg goes into the psychology of how incremental changes can dramatically change your life.
Audiobooks to Deepen Your Mindfulness Practice
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October is a perfect month to think about good books with great tools to strengthen and deepen your mindfulness practices, as well as give you great tips for your energy management. The following are my top-four personal favorites that I keep going back to and listening to again and again as new situations arise and I feel the need to reignite my regular mindfulness practices. Each moment of each day is precious to a lawyer, and we often don’t have time to read books. I listen to audiobooks while I am driving, getting ready for work, or have any downtime. The nail salon is one of my favorite places to catch up on my reading! I use the Audible app, and I love the “clip” feature so I can mark things that resonate with me or that I want to share in my columns. Listening to great books can be a way of accelerating your mindfulness practices. Here are my top four: 

1. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

HarperAudio, 2009; print version published by HarperOne, 2009.

Gay Hendricks is a psychologist and leadership guru who narrates this easy-to-listen-to book. He talks about our “upper limit problem” (i.e., the self-imposed glass ceilings that we often put on our own happiness). It’s all subconscious, and we do not realize we are sabotaging our success with our own fundamentally flawed mindsets. When we do not truly believe in our own value, we often do things unintentionally to mess up our lives. You know how when everything is going so great, and then we just do or say something totally not in alignment with our true success? Then we pay the price? The consequences can range from big to small, but it is all part of the same mindset of low self-esteem. The author teaches us how to recognize those behaviors and turn them around. It is a simple book that you can listen to time and again to make sure that you are not unintentionally sabotaging your own success. It is a great way to take control of your outcomes and be accountable to yourself—the only person whose behavior you can change.

2. Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life by Ashley Whillans

Recorded Books, Inc., 2020; print version published by Harvard Business Review Press, 2020.

In this awesome book, the author discusses time and our whole culture of being “busy.” Have you noticed that being busy in American culture is a new status symbol? Being frazzled and running around with your hair on fire these days has become normal. Have you ever thought about the subconscious messages clients and friends pick up from you when you are in that “busy” state? (I will be writing about this more in future columns.) We want to give people the idea that we do have time for them, that we are able to handle their situations, even if we are booked to the max. Do you look at people who are relaxed and not in a hurry as if there is something wrong with them? When you are deep into your mindfulness practices, you should not be running around like a chicken with your head cut off. That is not being mindful.

Whillans discusses the extensive research on time and how some of the things we think are productive really are not. She teaches us how to be “time abundant” instead of “time poor.” She gives us tools to analyze our own behaviors, and she does the math on what driving across town to save $0.20 on a gallon of gas costs us in terms of our leisure time. She teaches us about time boundaries and how to establish them. She also shows how it is applicable to our staff—how to save time with your staff and really add value instead of just billable hours. This book will resonate with lawyers, as our time is all we have to market. Whillans shows us how to do what we do better. The book is worth reading again when you feel like you are out of whack with time. Time stress is real, and it’s high time for us to tackle it.

3. The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Elizabeth Blackburn (2009 Nobel Laureate) and Elissa Eppel

Hachette Audio, 2017; print version published by Grand Central Publishing, 2017.

This is a great book with scientific data on what the length of our telomeres predicts about our health and longevity in life. Telomeres are distinctive structures found at the ends of our chromosomes. They are to our DNA like the plastic caps on shoestrings. We all know that stress can kill us. Work stress, caretaker stress, and chronic depression are the big culprits in shortening our lives. How we handle our life situations can affect how long or short our telomeres are, and thus we can make some predictions about our future lifespans. We know how stressful being a lawyer is, and this book will give you some food for thought regarding how you are managing your stress each day. Once you understand the effect your actions have on your longevity, you can make incremental changes that lengthen your telomeres and thus enhance your life. The book is top-heavy on science in the beginning, but, eventually, the science demonstrates that spending time doing your mindfulness practices each day will net you quantifiable benefits both in the short term and in the long term. For the analytical lawyer, just knowing that mindfulness is scientifically proven goes a long way in determining whether it is a valuable expenditure of your time. I love this book!

4. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by BJ Fogg

Audible Studios, 2020; print version published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.

I am almost done with my first round of this book, and I already know it will become one I listen to over and over. Ever since Darren Hardy, the former editor of Success magazine, wrote in his book The Compound Effect (Vanguard Press, 2010), “Small incremental changes over time produce great results,” I have been thinking about and working on doing things on a regular basis and being patient that I will see the results I want. When we go overboard and want results too fast, we humans crash and burn. Think workout programs and diets. This book goes deeper into the psychology of what just creating tiny little habits each day can do to dramatically change your life. More to come from me on this topic of starting small and finishing big.

These four books are a great addition to your mindfulness practice. Good luck with your autumn reading.

Until next time . . . namaste. Please let me know if you have any tips, sources, or experiences with mindfulness you want to share at [email protected].

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”—Zen proverb