I’ve read hundreds of books on meditation and mindfulness. Most of them were good but half a dozen have really stood out from the rest. These are the books I keep coming back to, re-reading and learning from.
Note: The links below take you to The Book Depository, where you can purchase the books. They’re affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you, and because they’re Book Depository links you’ll get competitive prices and free postage. Please understand that I have read all these books from cover to cover and I’m recommending them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.
Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche
This was not the first book on meditation I ever read but I wish it was. Had I started out with an understanding of meditation as presented here, I’m sure I would have avoided a great deal of struggle and strain and enjoyed the process of learning a great deal more.
Meditation Made Easy is probably the most accessible book on meditation you’ll ever read. It’s full of helpful and user-friendly tips for getting started as well as wise suggestions for modifying a stale or stagnant practice. It’s written in a light-hearted and humorous style. And it’s easy to read.
If you think you’d like a no-bullshit approach to meditation this is the book for you.
Thoughts Are Not The Enemy by Jason Siff
I’m a huge fan of this book (and also of Jason’s previous one, Unlearning Meditation). I continue to dip into these books years after first buying them and I still find them wonderfully refreshing. Jason’s ideas about meditation are innovative and original. More importantly though, they have the capacity to completely transform your meditation practice for the better.
Jason’s books will certainly be of interest to more experienced meditators but don’t be put off if you’re new to meditation.
If you’ve ever struggled to quiet your mind this book will definitely be worth a read.
Meditation Secrets For Women by Camille Maurine & Lorin Roche
I bought this book years before I managed to read it right through, perhaps thinking that it was only relevant for women. That was a mistake; it contains some of the most profoundly wise advice I’ve come across. Within these pages, you won’t find the dry, scholastic type of meditation instruction you may be familiar with. It’s warts-and-all meditation, overflowing with the full range of human experience and emotion.
It starts from the premise that meditation is great — but that few practices are tailored to the special needs and interests of contemporary women. Then it takes meditation out of the monastery and puts it squarely back in the midst of our messy lives.
For Nerds, Overachievers and Hardcore Meditators
The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
This is the “meditation mechanic’s” manual, full of concise but detailed instructions on how to develop laser-like focus and concentration, along with explanations and models of how the mind works drawn from both tradition and neuroscience.
It’s written with a degree of certainty that I find slightly troublesome and contains assertions that don’t match my own experience but is certainly a very systematic and scholarly work.
More traditional than the other books listed here, it will provide an interesting foil to the more innovative approaches I’ve recommended above.
Zen Wrapped in Karma and Dipped in Chocolate by Brad Warner
In my opinion, books on meditation are generally far too serious. The whole subject is given an almost stultifying reverence or importance. Brad Warner is the antidote. His books are wonderfully irreverent. If you’d like to laugh-out-loud when reading about meditation this is the book for you.
Tim Parks’ Teach Us To Sit Still is probably the best book you could give to someone who is skeptical about the whole idea of meditation. And his book Sex if Forbidden (also sold as The Server) is an irreverent but insightful semi-fictional account of what it’s like to participate in one of the popular Goenka-style 10 day Vipassana retreats.
For the Anxious
A psychologist with forty years’ experience practicing and teaching meditation, Bill Morgan notes that despite the increasing popularity of mindfulness (and its documented health benefits), many people struggle to maintain a regular practice and many give up or only practice sporadically. In his book — The Meditator’s Dilemma: An Innovative Approach to Overcoming Obstacles and Revitalizing Your Practice — he confronts this problem and its causes and provides specific, accessible exercises designed to generate the all-too-often missing delight and enjoyment in meditation. His book is well worth reading.
Do you have a favourite book on meditation or mindfulness? Add it in the comments section below.