Twenty years ago, finding resources on meditation was far more difficult.
However, now you have the ability to jump online and find information on anything you’d want related to the practice within a matter of seconds.
Despite this, many of the greatest resources on meditation are still books, many of which were written long before the Internet was ever around.
There’s a lot out there on meditation, and I’ve read a veritable mountain of books on the subject, so I’ve collected what I believe to be ten of the best books on meditation out there.
Some are about the formal practice of sitting in meditation while others are about meditating with your whole life. And some are just great resources for someone that intends to live a more meditative life. All are incredible resources, whether you’re a budding meditator or experienced practitioner.
The thing about meditation is…you become more and more you.
– David Lynch
1. Making Space by Thich Nhat Hanh
Making Space is the perfect book for beginner meditators.
In this short read, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh breaks down (in a very simple way) how to best establish a home meditation practice. It includes a ton of creative practices and suggestions as well – that stretch beyond just simply sitting in meditation.
I’d suggest this book to anyone who is just beginning their meditation practice and looking to start off with something from a reputable source yet that’s easy to get into (not too much deep-end-of-the-pool meditation stuff).
2. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a classic not just in the meditation space, as Shunryu Suzuki’s popularization of the “beginner’s mind” principle has made it catch on in other spaces, such as business and art.
I’ve read this book probably thirty times (not exaggerating) and I always seem to find something new each time I read it. It discusses meditation in the most intimate way – a way in which only a true master could explain.
This book is interesting because it’s good for beginners (although some of it will go over your head), however, it also has an infinite amount of little wisdom for experienced practitioners alike (hence my reading it thirty times.)
As this is one of my favorite books ever (meditation or not), I’d highly recommend it to everyone.
3. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Miracle of Mindfulness was the book that started it all for me. With this, Thich Nhat Hanh would introduce me to a practice that transformed my life and rid me of my constant anxiety. For that reason alone, it would get a place on this list.
However, The Miracle of Mindfulness is more than just sentimental. It’s the classic introduction to mindfulness meditation and it does a better job of describing what it means to live meditatively — and what that can do for us as human beings — than virtually any other book I’ve ever read.
There are few books I’d suggest more than The Miracle of Mindfulness; and for the aspiring meditator, this to me is a must-read.
4. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
Unlike many of the books on this list, this one is written for pure skeptics by someone who was once a hard skeptic himself – ABC News anchor Dan Harris.
If you feel you still have a bit of skepticism in you, or you did at one point and would just feel more at home listening to someone like you, this is the perfect read.
What’s great is that once you’ve finished the book, he has an accompanying podcast which just so happens to be one of my favorites.
5. Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts
This is a bit of a unique one. One, because it’s technically an audiobook (hey, I’m allowed to bend the rules once). Two, because it’s less about teaching the practice of meditation and more about handling many of the things that will happen during your practice and to you as a result of a deep and consistent meditation practice.
Alan Watts is perfect for delivering this information as he has a way of explaining things that breaks them down so that they’re simple and easy to understand.
If you’re interested in diving deep into your meditation practice and would like to learn a little about the origins of the practice and where it can take you (or where you’re going), you can’t pass up this classic audio collection from Watts.
6. Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Mindfulness in Plain English is a unique guide because it breaks down the topic of meditation in a way that none of the other books on this list do. Perhaps for this reason, it’s considered by many to be the quintessential mindfulness meditation guide.
I do have to offer a bit of advice, however: don’t start with it. You’d think that a book with the phrase “in plain English” would be a great beginner’s book, but actually, it can be a bit complicated to understand at times if you’re new to meditation practice.
Despite this, it serves as one of the best books out there on meditation and a personal favorite. Highly recommended to anyone wanting to get serious about their practice or who just wants more information about the form of meditation they’re practicing (if what you’re practicing is mindfulness, as it is for most nowadays).
7. What is Zen by Alan Watts
Another from Watts, this is the clearest and most straightforward explanation of the depth of meditation practice I’ve found.
However, keep in mind that anything by Watts is generally a little advanced. Nothing crazy, just make sure you’ve been meditating for a few months and are serious about getting the most from a long-term meditation practice. If you fit that classification, you’ll get so much from this book.
8. Not Always So by Shunryu Suzuki
This next book is virtually unknown, despite the fact that it’s by the same author as one of the great meditation classics I covered earlier– Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
However, unlike Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, this isn’t an epic love letter to meditation and the quintessential Zen meditation guide, it’s more about little insights for and about meditation practice and how that applies to living everyday life. For that reason, I’ve found it to be the perfect compliment to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
I’d recommend this to anyone who has read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind or any other basic meditation book (like many on this list) and wants to take their practice further.
9. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are is the perfect “modern” meditation guide from the ‘father of modern mindfulness’, Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Like 10% Happier, this book is perfect for anyone who is a bit turned off by the heavier Buddhist-themed speak or anything with a “spiritual” perspective to it. By no means is it shallow, as Kabat-Zinn is a deep meditator himself, but it’s more welcoming for a newcomer who might be turned off by such themes.
If you want a straightforward guide that doesn’t just teach you how to meditate, but teaches you clearly and simply why it’s important down to its fundamental sense, then this is the perfect book for you.
10. Meditation in Action by Chogyam Trungpa
Written by the late Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, Meditation in Action goes deeper into the practice of meditation in an interesting way that makes it stand out from the rest of the books on this list.
Trungpa was a very interesting and in some ways controversial figure while he was alive. However, the depth of his wisdom and knowledge on the practice of meditation is without question; and his somewhat unique and intense perspective serves as a nice additional dimension to the other books on this list that any aspiring or experienced meditator would find valuable.
These are all masterpieces, so whichever book you decide to go with know that you’ll be in good hands. Decide which looks most appealing to you and just jump in.
There’s a lot to the practice of meditation, so enjoy the wisdom from these amazing authors and let them help you take your meditation practice to a new level.