The most important thing about a meditation book list is to remember that reading is not meditating. Only getting down to turning our attention away from our thoughts and to the present moment in some form, and in some place, is meditating.
But there is no questioning the fact that there are great teachers out there who have walked the exploratory path of meditation before us and learning from them is absolutely necessary.
So, go ahead. Read. Learn. Contemplate. And then don’t forget the most important part of the journey—practice.
1. Mindfulness in Plain English ~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
A new 20th anniversary edition of this classic was released a few years ago. Bhante Gunaratana knows his stuff after 50 years of meditating and he covers all aspects of the practice thoroughly including how to deal with all types of distractions that come up during the practice of meditation.
2. The Posture of Meditation ~ Will Johnson
This compact book gives very practical information for positioning yourself during meditation practice and how the posture we sit in while practicing has much deeper implications for spiritual transformation then we might have imagined.
3. Taking the Leap ~ Pema Chodron
This one changed my life. Pema Chodron doesn’t mince words in this 2012 release that shows us that there is no ground to stand on and that this realization will bring us freedom.
4. Comfortable with Uncertainty ~ Pema Chodron
A great book to flip through, one reading at a time. Not to be rushed. But each of the 108 readings to be savored, simmered and reflected on slowly and naturally.
5. Meditation for the Love of It ~ Sally Kempton
Sally Kempton has been there and done it and she inspires us to work with our Kundalini energy to deepen the meditation experience. Just the title alone inspired me to practice meditation more.
6. A Path with Heart ~ Jack Kornfield
A classic! Jack Kornfield was so raw and real when he wrote this book. Just back from his monkhood in Burma he felt the world deeply and it comes across in his words. The Path of the Heart is really a step-by-step guide to cultivating a mindful, heartful life. But it is not to be read quickly. Three months to a year is a good length of time to read this book.
7. After the Ecstasy the Laundry ~ Jack Kornfield
Ever wondered why after a deep spiritual experience people feel depressed or get sick. Well, Jack Kornfield did. So he went to find out from the people who had experienced what happens after spiritual ecstasy. Kornfield interviewed hundreds of spiritual practitioners from many different traditions and shows all the different ways people experience being awake and being in the ordinary world, all in one lifetime.
8. The Path is The Goal ~ Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is the founder of Shambhala and Naropa University and was one of the first Tibetan teachers to arrive in the West. He gave much thought on how to present the Tibetan Buddhist teachings to Westerners and this book includes some of the transcripts of his teachings, as well as his answers to students questions. The Path is The Goal is amusing and insightful and touched me deeply.
9. Making a Change for Good ~ Cheri Huber
Cheri Huber is an excellent Zen teacher who has written many, many books in a very simple accessible style. She is committed to ending ego-centric karmic conditioning through blogging, e-mail groups, radio shows and her books. Check her out at livingcompassion.org
10. Rewire Your Brain for Love ~ Marsha Lucas
This book is brain education for beginners. It’s practical and easy to read and encourages you in the simplest way to practice meditation on a regular basis because “what you wire is what you fire,” and what we learn from Marsha Lucas is meditation literally re-wires our brains to help make us calmer and less reactive.
So, grab a good book on meditation and read up on the practice. But not too much because you’ll need to leave enough time to take what you learn to your pillow or chair and practice those techniques yourself.
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Editor: Travis May