7 Best Meditation Books for a Calmer Mind
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Why reading about meditation is wise
In magazine articles, on social media, and in real life, everyone from health experts and A-listers to your next-door neighbor is raving about the benefits of meditation. And science is backing them up.
Researchers are discovering that incorporating the practice into your daily life can improve your mental and physical health, with effects like reduced stress and anxiety, improved mood, lower blood pressure, and less chronic pain.
Even so, the practice of meditation can be difficult to grasp and then adapt to your daily life. Not to worry. We consulted with therapists, mindfulness experts, and satisfied readers to get a list of the best books on meditation. The books below should help you achieve peace and improve your well-being.
via amazon.comThe Miracle of Mindfulness
A seminal work by Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness is a great starting point for people interested in learning more about what it means to practice meditation.
“It’s a short book that really simplifies mindfulness for daily life,” says psychologist and mindfulness expert Elisha Goldstein, founder of the Mindful Living Collective, an online mindfulness support community. If you’re interested in learning how activities like washing the dishes can turn into opportunities for growth and greater self-understanding, this book is for you.
via amazon.comWherever You Go, There You Are
“Wherever You Go, There You Are provides a story and practice that introduces mindfulness as a way of life,” says Goldstein, who recommends the book. It was written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
It’s broken up into short, easily digestible sections that focus on different aspects of mindfulness, different strategies for meditation, and ways to apply these practices to your daily life. If after reading it you find yourself interested in learning more about the relationship between mindfulness and meditation and physical illness and healing, check out Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living.
Psychotherapist Marianela Medrano recommends this tome from internationally known meditation, emotional healing, and spiritual awakening teacher Tara Brach. Radical Compassion offers a primer on the RAIN meditation practice; RAIN stands for recognize (what is happening), allow (life to be just as it is), investigate (with a gentle, curious attention), and nurture (with loving presence). It’s the meditation style that Medrano uses in her practice.
The book also features stories from Brach and her students about how RAIN meditation helped them overcome loss and trauma and find compassion and love.
via amazon.com Mindful of Race
An international teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition, author Ruth King’s approach to social issues encourages readers to first look within themselves and examine their beliefs and where they came from. Then she offers instructions on how to foster a culture that values caring and compassion above division.
“Addressing racism from a grounded place is not an easy task. Conversations meant to be generative can become heated quickly and devolve without careful consideration to all the factors at play,” reads one five-star review. “Ruth King has gifted us with a gorgeous set of teachings, practices, invitations, and considerations to contemplate and implement—and to simply, as the Buddha basically said, try out.”
If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, Medrano also recommends You Belong by Sebene Selassie.
The Wise Heart
When most people think of meditation, they picture practices that come from philosophies like Buddhism, yet those philosophies can often feel foreign or difficult to grasp. The Wise Heart, which Medrano recommends, offers an accessible and comprehensive guide to Buddhist psychology and how it can help you become the best version of yourself.
As a former Buddhist monk with a doctorate in clinical psychology, author Jack Kornfield blends Eastern and Western approaches into one easy-to-read, eye-opening book.
“There are a few books I’ve read that have been absolutely life-altering, and now I count Jack Kornfield’s book, The Wise Heart, as among that rarefied few. This book is beyond powerful,” says one five-star review. “[It is] my living ‘workbook’ that I love reading and rereading—such a treasure trove of wisdom. This is what good books are all about. They are truly priceless.”
Think Like a Monk
If you’re looking for a more contemporary approach to the teachings of meditation, Jay Shetty’s Think Like a Monk may be the perfect book for you. Known for his podcast, “On Purpose,” and his enormous social media following, Shetty studied as a monk for three years before he began coaching his friends on how to use mindfulness to overcome stress and unhappiness.
His book combines the wisdom he learned from his teachers and studies with his own experiences to offer actionable strategies for finding more peace and meaning in your everyday life.
“Jay has truly mastered how to marry wisdom and science, sprinkled with some wit on top to make a book that helps you easily digest some extremely profound knowledge and apply it to your everyday life,” raves one of nearly 18,000 five-star reviewers. “[The book includes] written and verbal exercises to expand your heart, mind, and soul. Never does he preach or belittle; he only offers experiences and suggestions on mindset and lifestyle to help you get to your higher self.”
via amazon.com Practicing Mindfulness
Looking to incorporate a meditation practice into your daily life but unsure how or where to start? Enter Matthew Sockolov’s Practicing Mindfulness, which is filled with simple meditations of various lengths tailored to your needs and goals.
“I am a mother of three and am constantly on the go. I have never considered meditation because, frankly, the thought of trying to find a quiet spot to sit for a long period of time by myself in complete silence seemed insane,” shares one pleased purchaser who gave this book a try. “Depending on the emotion you’re trying to work through, you can simply look up the exercise for it!”
The meditations in the book are short—some taking as little time as five minutes—making them ideal if you have a busy schedule. “The best part of all you can do them just about anywhere,” the reviewer says. “I’ve caught myself doing some of the exercises in this book while sitting in my car waiting for my kids to come out of karate practice!”
Next, learn how to sneak meditation into your everyday life.
- Elisha Goldstein, PhD, psychologist and founder of the Mindful Living Collective
- Marianela Medrano, PhD, founder of the Palabra Counseling and Training Center in Stamford, Connecticut
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Journal of Human Hypertension: "Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation in Reducing Blood Pressure and Stress in Patients With Arterial Hypertension"
- The Journal of Neuroscience: "Mindfulness-Mediation-Based Pain Relief is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids"