Below you’ll find the booklist for our Meditation Teacher Training course. I have not included popular and well-known books on meditation. Instead, I’ve recommended books which offer unique or innovative ways to think about and practice meditation.
You don’t have to read all these books. For accreditation with Meditation Australia you need to read four; one by Jason Siff, one by Eric Harrison, one by Lorin Roche, and one elective.
You’ll also need to submit a short reflection (perhaps about one or two pages) on what you took away from the book, and how it may have influenced your own practice and how you might teach.
Note: Links on this page take you to The Book Depository, where you can purchase the books mentioned. I receive a small ‘affiliate commission’, whilst you pay the normal price — which is usually very competitive — and get free postage.
Unlearning Meditation by Jason Siff
Unlearning Meditation is the unofficial textbook for our Meditation Teacher Training course. Jason’s approach to meditation is both radical and realistic; unbound by tradition, but respectful of it. His approach, which emphasizes a gentle, permissive and curious approach to meditation, has grown out of his own (very) extensive experience teaching meditation and from his extraordinarily rigorous reflection upon and questioning of every aspect of meditation.
While some may find the book challenging (in various ways) and technical, I believe many of the concepts Jason introduces are critical to teaching and presenting meditation in a skilful way.
Thoughts Are Not The Enemy: An Innovative Approach to Meditation Practice by Jason Siff
This book extends and clarifies ideas introduced in Unlearning Meditation, and includes case studies and examples of the difficulties students may go through as they learn to relate in healthier ways to their thoughts and emotions.
Meditation Secrets for Women by Camille Maurine & Dr Lorin Roche
Lorin Roche and his wife Camille Maurine co-wrote this book, focusing on how meditation might be adapted to the female psyche. They point out that meditation has traditionally been the province of celibate males — and that the needs of contemporary western women are probably somewhat different! As always, Lorin offers insightful perspectives and instruction on how to make meditation a more healthy, user-friendly and accessible practice.
Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche
If, as a beginner, you were only allowed to read one book on meditation, this is the one I would recommend.
The 5-Minute Meditator by Eric Harrison
Written in Eric’s typically simple, clear and practical style this book will be of particular interest to those looking to integrate meditation into their lives in a variety of ways. This is the unofficial text for our Beginners Course and has been a favourite with my students for years.
Unfortunately this book is no longer in print. You may find a hardcopy at your local library. You can also download a PDF version.
Please note that the version of this book available online (for example, for $13.35 via the Book Depository) is a very old edition. For Teacher Training, the most recent edition is required.
Brain Training with the Buddha / The Foundations of Mindfulness by Eric Harrison
Nearly everyone I meet is at least somewhat confused by the word mindfulness and how it relates to meditation, Buddhism and psychology. This book explains it all, taking you through the history and development of mindfulness and describing its use in a variety of contexts. Highly recommended.
Note: Brain Training with the Buddha was previously published as The Foundations of Mindfulness. Though the books have different titles and covers, the content is identical.
The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren
Learning how to relate to our emotions in a healthy way, I believe, is at the heart of both meditation and life. Sadly, this is a much neglected area. The meditation tradition largely ignores the emotions, and fails to offer them anything but the most superficial treatment. I’ve found it extraordinarily difficult to find truly helpful material. As one of my students said recently: “My psychologist recommenced Daniel Goleman’s seminal work on the subject (Emotional Intelligence). It was interesting, but the most practical information I found was the blurb on the back cover (and some information in Appendix D!)”
Karla McLaren however, offers a highly sophisticated and yet practical, down-to-earth approach to emotions. In my opinion, her work should be read, digested, understood, implemented, practiced and shared by every meditation teacher!
The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren
Karla’s more recent book, The Art of Empathy, is not quite as comprehensive as The Language of Emotions but is perhaps a little more refined and succinct.
Other notable books on emotions include:
It’s Not Always Depression by Hilary Jacobs Hendel
How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett
Good Reasons For Bad Feelings by Randolph M. Nesse
The Meditator’s Dilemma: An Innovative
Approach to Overcoming Obstacles and Revitalizing Your Practice by Bill Morgan
A psychologist with forty years’ experience practicing and teaching meditation, Bill 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, 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.
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.
Punk rocker and Zen priest, Brad Warner is just the ticket if you’re taking yourself or meditation too seriously. His books, including Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate and Sex, Sin & Zen, are irreverent, thoughtful, sometimes profound, and nearly always highly entertaining. Read a chapter before bed each night in order to gain wisdom and sleep better!
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 is 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.
Purchase Sex is Forbidden: Ebook
10% Happier by Dan Harris
In 10% Happier, celebrity author Dan Harris provides a delightfully irreverent and yet poignantly honest account of his journey from stressed skeptic to meditation convert. It’s a romp of a read, with particularly memorable encounters with Ekhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Paris Hilton along with other luminaries of the meditation and mindfulness world. This may even top Tim Parks effort as they best book for meditation skeptics (or Dan’s follow-up Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics).
Don’t Be So Defensive by Sharon Ellison
Chapter 6, on asking questions is particularly useful; but the whole book is an excellent resource on identifying and correcting the socially mandated — but largely dysfunctional — modes of communication that perpetuate so much of the strife in our lives. The most recent edition of the book has been renamed Taking the War Out of Our Words.
Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing by David Treleaven
In any meditation class there are likely to be at least a few students who have experienced some traumatic event. How do you know who they are? How do you identify whether they are struggling, how do you respond wisely to their needs, and how can you apply trauma-informed teaching principles to the classes you run? These are just some of the questions Treleaven explores in this thoughtful, practical book.