Three Books Every Backpacker Should Read
The title is a lie. Really, these are the three books that every backpacker interested in mindfulness should read. For me, traveling has been the perfect opportunity to focus on mindfulness and meditation. What other time in your life to you have enough time to sit in silence for 10 days??
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art of being present. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present . In July, I attended my first 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course, where I was introduced to a new technique of meditation.Through meditation, we are better able to focus our mind on the present, rather than suffering from the plague that consumers our mind, causing our thoughts to bounce from past to future, past to future.
While traveling, I didn’t want to be planning the next destination, or agonizing about where I want to work when I return to the States, or dwelling on the failed relationships that I left behind, or thinking about how much I miss my family. I want to be present in this moment. I want to fully enjoy and experience the new places I discover.
Travel is a time to be your most present self, unlike maybe a long day at work or studying where you are day dreaming about Friday night plans rather than focusing on what you are doing.
I am jumping on the “mindfullness” bandwagon, I know. It is nothing new, and has been a western trend for the past few years. I first got hooked on this whole concept of “mindfulness” from a New York Times article about Google hosting Thich Nhat Hanh to speak to the company about mindfulness.
These three books have been the best books I have read over the past few months on mindfulness.
1. Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This is the book written by that same monk that Google hired to teach their employees. It is a great introduction to meditation and how to meditate in your daily life from eating to walking.
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” – Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
This isn’t a new recommendation by any means. In fact, it may be one of the most cliche books to read while backpacking, but there is a reason everyone recommends it! There is so much to be learned from this simple story of a young sheep herder on a quest for his destiny. The focus isn’t by any means mindfulness, but you can see lessons of being present everywhere in the story, like in the above quote.
3. The Power of Now Eckherd Toole
I remember seeing this book on bestseller lists when I was in high school. At the time, I thought it was some silly self-help book
. Now, I wish my arrogant high-school self didn’t think I was so above a self-help book. I missed out the opportunity to realize the power of mindfulness at a younger age.