“Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.”
– Jack Kornfield, Author, Buddhist Practitioner and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West
Welcome to Part II of our essential mindfulness guide.
In Part I, I shared my top apps for living a more mindful life. In Part II, we’ll take a look at some of the best mindfulness podcasts out there. There’s a lot out there, and knowing where to start can feel overwhelming.
I’ll share the three podcasts I always return to, along with a handful of my favorite episodes for each. But before we get there, a brief refresher on why mindfulness matters. If you’ve already read Part I, feel free to jump straight down to the podcast recommendations.
A quick note: This blog post is the first in a four-part series exploring the best tools to get started with mindfulness. If you’re eager to get going and want all the information at once, download our free eBook: Mastering Mindfulness: The Essential Tools to Live a More Mindful Life
The concept of “mindfulness” is becoming increasingly commonplace these days. But despite that, it often seems there’s a lack of clarity around what exactly mindfulness is. That ambiguity can make it feel inaccessible to some of the people who would most benefit from it.
At Mindmaven, we believe ambiguity is the enemy of change, so we have a very simple definition: Mindfulness is simply the art of being completely present in the moment. It’s a simple concept with roots in ancient Buddhist philosophy, yet today it’s practiced by bhikkhu monks, busy parents, and overworked CEOs alike.
That’s Great, but Why Should I Listen to You?
Many don’t know this, but Mindmaven owes its existence to mindfulness.
It began nearly 13 years ago, when my wife and I decided to pursue a lifelong dream: Exploring the world.
The decision was rooted in a deep desire to get “back to basics.” After so many years of living in Silicon Valley, it’s easy to fall into the trap of Bay Area Blinders, or experiencing the world through a limited, tech industry-specific perspective—a perspective that simply isn’t real or relatable for most.
So we packed up the essentials and spent the next 10 months traveling. You can read more about those travels here. The goal for our trip was simple: To experience happiness and fulfillment in other cultures. I could share story-after-story about this, but one, in particular, stands out.
We were passing through small Amazon Basin village at the heart of an Ecuadorian jungle and, as we looked around at the families just living their lives, they all radiated joy, contentment, and satisfaction. And despite the fact that their only worldly possessions were the clothes on their back and the roof over their heads, these people seemed genuinely happier than the average person walking down Market Street.
This realization breathed life into the dream that first started while working at LinkedIn: Creating a path for others to deeper, more meaningful connections and a happier, more fulfilling life.
This dream became a commitment in Thailand during a 10-day silent meditation retreat at the Suann Mokkh Buddhist monastery (one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life). In the midst of a deep state of absorption, seated atop a coconut mat in an open meditation hall, the idea for Mindmaven arose and my future path became clear.
But don’t just take my word for it …
The Scientifically-Proven Benefits of Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness is enormously (and measurably) beneficial.
Some of these benefits are obvious: A 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study found a daily mindfulness practice dramatically reduces anxiety, while a Harvard study found that it increases focus. Others are less obvious: In 2015, a Central Michigan University study found that mindfulness combats subconscious racial biases. Other benefits may manifest themselves professionally: Another Harvard study found that leaders who practice mindfulness are “less stressed, which reduces employee stress, creates a better workplace, and improves the bottom line.”
All that, simply from being more present in the moment. But it still begs the question: In our increasingly reactive world, how do you practice mindfulness and become more present?
It’s not as complicated as you might think—with the right tools and resources. After a mindfulness practice spanning over a decade (and helping dozens of people get started themselves), here’s my go-to podcast recommendations to deepen your understanding of mindfulness in your daily life.
Top Podcasts to Build a Deeper Understanding of Mindfulness
In a field that can get frustratingly abstract, Tara is direct, personal, and gets right to the (enlightened) point. With her background both in cognitive therapy and Buddhist Meditation techniques, Tara’s content ranges from basic talks on spiritual awareness, to niche content like grief, addiction, to pandemic care — all centered around a more mindful and conscious you.
Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
Tara explores the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the mind, then explains how to be present in the midst of all of this while practicing increased empathy and compassion.
A negative worldview is one of the biggest barriers to an effective mindfulness practice. In this podcast, Tara leads through mindfulness-centered thought activities aimed to extinguish negative thought loops and cycles.
This talk is on coming to terms with imperfection, an essential part of life and work, and becoming more open to mistakes and, tacitly, to ourselves.
Dharma Seed, one of the largest depositories of Mindfulness talks, hosts hundreds of hours of content primarily focused on meditation and ‘oneness’.
While many of these talks contain concepts that may be unfamiliar to those not familiar with Buddhist thought, much of it is universally accessible and builds awareness of high-level ideas essential to creating mindful habits. For a resource filled with Mindfulness instructors of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ schools of thought, this is the place to go.
Appreciation, compassion, and kindness might seem commonplace. But by spending some time intentionally present in these powerful states, you can have a positive impact on nearly every aspect of your life.
An excellent primer on an often-overlooked but essential cornerstone of mindfulness, meditation, and presence: The breath. Learn mindful breathing techniques designed to center you in even the most stressful situations.
Impeccably organized and catalogued, Audio Dharma hosts Mindfulness talks that run the gamut from basic meditative practices to advanced spiritual concepts. In other words, they’re the real deal. Their archive of talks all comes from The Insight Meditation Center in Redwood, California. If these ideas really connect with you, consider attending a seminar or retreat there — a truly life changing experience awaits.
A great introduction to knowing yourself and mastering the art of relaxation. While these concepts can seem a bit vague at first to beginners, Gil Fronsdal does an excellent job in breaking them down and putting these ancient ideas in a contemporary context.
Already have the basics of meditation down and don’t want someone else’s voice intruding on your mindfulness practice? Use one of Audio Dharma’s simple, unobtrusive meditation timers.
You’ve Downloaded the Apps and Listened to the Podcasts … Now What?
If you’ve downloaded the apps from Part I and are committed to listening to the podcasts above, you’re leagues beyond the majority who simply say, “I know I need to be more present” but never make meaningful change.
But it’s still just the beginning.
In Part III, we’ll discuss three powerful mindfulness exercises you can work into your day-to-day life: The Body Scan, Thought Observation, and Mindful Listening. I’ll walk you step-by-step through each one and give you the tools you need to start habitualizing them into your life.
Don’t want to wait for Part III? Want access to all the information, including apps, podcasts, exercises and retreats? Download our free eBook below.