Recommended Reading

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.

Note: Links on this page take you to The Book Depository (or Abebooks), 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 the 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.

Purchase via The Book Depository.

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.

Purchase via The Book Depository

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.

Purchase via The Book Depository

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.

Lorin has written several other very good books on meditation, including BreathtakingMeditation 24/7 and Whole Body Meditations.

Purchase via The Book Depository

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. Available in class.

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 latest version is required and is available in class or via our online shop.

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 and how it fits in with contemporary science. Highly practical and highly recommended. Available in class, directly through our website or via The Book Depository.

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!

Purchase via The Book Depository

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.

Purchase via The Book Depository

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.

Purchase via The Book Depository

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.

Purchase via The Book Depository.

Brad Warner

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

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.

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.

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

From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime and up to 20% of us will develop posttraumatic stress. This means that anywhere mindfulness is being practised, someone in the room is likely to be struggling with trauma.

At first glance, this appears to be a good thing: trauma creates stress and mindfulness is a proven tool for reducing it. But the reality is not so simple.

I haven’t read this book (yet), but it’s generating a lot of interest and seemed worth adding. I’ll update you with my impressions as soon as I have a copy.

Purchase via The Book Depository.