Our Top 10 Picks: The Best Books on Meditation

With each passing day, mindfulness and meditation continue to become more and more accepted into modern western culture, not only for their beneficial effects on one's state of mind, but also for their scientifically proven benefits to the brain. From the popularity of books like 10% Happier by Dan Harris, to iPhone apps like "Headspace," the number of people meditating every day is steadily growing. That said, meditation is a practice that has been around for millennia, especially in South Asia and Asia. As a newcomer to meditation, or as someone who already has a practice but wants to delve deeper, finding the right technique or teacher to guide you is an important step in the process of meditation. Thus, we've created a list of 10 books on meditation and mindfulness written by authors with strong, established meditation practices. We hope that their simple, straightforward instructions will be of use to you as you begin your journey inward.

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10. Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditation for Lifelong Peace, Focus and Happiness by Sara Elliot Price

Sara Elliott Price is a self-published author who writes on a range of health and self-development topics. In this short guide to meditation, Sara offers her readers an introduction to meditation, a brief history of it, a look into its manifestation within different religions and spiritual paths throughout the world, and the various kinds of meditation styles that are available to all practitioners. If you are unfamiliar with meditation and want to learn more about it without having to read 100s of pages, Sara's book offers a great option. It is clear, concise and easy to read. Who knows, after reading it you might be inspired to delve deeper into the topic and read one of the other books listed below.

9. Wherever You Go There You Are by

    Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you're more of a skeptic about meditation and it's benefits, this might be the book for you. This book was written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world renowned scientist, writer and meditation teacher. Jon founded a world-renowned, mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Clinic (1979), and The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (1995) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he is a Professor of medicine emeritus. Jon is also credited with developing mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which has been used in 100s of clinical trials internationally to test the benefits of meditation on the human brain and body. In this book, Jon offers the reader an accessible guide to meditation in everyday life. Like other meditation masters, Jon argues that meditation is a natural activity that can be practiced anywhere, at anytime, in everyday life. Weaving together his knowledge and scientific research with his experience of the 2000+ year old practice of Buddhist meditation, Jon provides a timeless classic on meditation that should be added to anyone's spiritual "toolbox".  

8. Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom by Joseph Goldstein

Insight Meditation is a great foundational book, specifically for vipassanaa meditation, which is a specific form of Buddhist meditation. Joseph offers his readers a thorough background and understanding on vipassanaa and what it can do for people who choose to practice it regularly. While there are some specific meditation instructions woven throughout the book, this may not be the right choice if you are looking for a step-by-step guide on the practice itself.

7. The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron

While this is not strictly a book on how to meditate, it is one that can offer a lot of insight. This book is accessible to beginning and advanced meditators alike, as well as those who are simply looking for meaning in their lives, and a way to deal with the stress and chaos of everyday life. In this concise guide to Buddhist wisdom and teachings, Pema Chodron teaches readers how to say "yes" to life - both the good, bad, and everything in between - and how to cultivate courage and love in our lives. Pema translates esoteric Buddhist teachings into "down-to-earth" language that everyone can understand and put into practice. This book is a 'must read' whether you are a Buddhist or not, as it provides readers with a way to expand their understanding of the world and relate to it in a more compassionate and understanding way.

6. Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield

This book is another great, step-by-step book for beginning meditators. Jack Kornfield, Ph.D is a Buddhist monk and highly trained clinical psychologist, giving him a unique, well-rounded perspective of the subject. As he says in the book: "The point of these teachings has nothing to do with becoming a Buddhist, or learning any Eastern ceremonies or rituals or bowing. The point is that you learn how to work with meditation in order to find benefits from it in your life."  Thus, if you are looking for a practical, step-by-step method on meditation by a certified expert, this book may be the book for you.

5. Scientific Healing Affirmations by Paramahamsa Yogananda

While this book is not strictly a book on meditation, it does offer a series of affirmations that could be used to meditate with. Meditation is about learning how to work with your mind and to make the mind your friend. In this timeless book, Paramahamsa Yogananda teaches readers how to use their minds in a more positive way to heal ourselves and the environment around us. Like anything, this is a practice. In order to improve, one must practice using these affirmations over a period of time. 

4. Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

If you read the teachings and writings of spiritual masters, no matter the nationality or spirituality, you will notice that they tend to have the same message: you can attain peace right here, right now, wherever you are. Everything you do can be a form of meditation. When many people think of meditation, images of a skinny ascetic, alone in a mountain cave sitting crosslegged with his eyes closed come to mind. The truth is, while that may be one way to meditate, it is not the only way to meditate. In fact, it is not the way that most people meditate. Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates just that in his simple and straightforward book: Peace is Every Step, showing his readers that even listening to the phone ring can be a form of meditation. A must read for meditators and seekers of all levels of experience. 

3. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind by Pema Chodron

This incredible book on meditation by the American-born Tibetan Buddhist Nun is a clear and supportive guide to the practice of sitting meditation. Pema breaks down all the elements of meditation from posture and breathe to attitude and how to work with your intellect and emotions. This is a gem of a book from a teacher who has in-depth knowledge and an understanding of the state of unity-consciousness from which she speaks. This book essential for any collection of spiritual reading. 

2. Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You by Swami Muktananda 

Meditate by Swami Muktananda is a great, concise guide to meditation and it's purifying effects on our lives. Ultimately, meditation brings people's awareness to their true nature - that they are consciousness. This book can tend to be a bit more esoteric than other guides, in that it brings its readers attention to very high-level concepts of reality based on the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. This book can be read by beginners, as it does break down the practice of sitting meditation into its various components very clearly, but it is more geared towards someone with at least some understanding of Eastern philosophy. The book also speaks most specifically about the technique of Siddha Meditation. That said, all serious meditators should add this to their collection. 

1. The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by Thich Nhat Hanh

Similar to his book Peace is Every Step, this guide presents its readers with realistic, accessible and practical tips on how to practice meditation and mindfulness in every activity and in every moment of the day. Thich Nhat Hanh is a master at artfully drawing his readers in with anecdotes and simple methods for finding peace and living with awareness. He takes seemingly banal activities and elevates them to a higher plane of consciousness and awareness. Through reading this book and putting his techniques into practice, readers can come to live a more fulfilling and compassionate life.