What if you could lower your blood pressure, give your immune system a much-needed boost, and reduce the stress you constantly feel, without taking medication?
And what if you could lower your anxiety level, boost your self-confidence, and improve your focus and memory without going to a doctor or a series of doctors to identify the cause?
Impossible, you say? No way you yell? Au contraire mon frère.
There is a great way to pull yourself out of the blues, relieve your pain, and manage your emotions naturally. And you don’t need to do anything but be present in the moment.
Being present in the moment might sound easy, but our distracted and busy minds make it much harder than it appears. Trying to wrangle in your thoughts so you can find peace in the here and now is like trying to tame fleas.
One of the best ways to tame your thoughts is through the regular practice of meditation. Meditation not only allows you to enjoy presence while you are meditating, but it also strengthens your ability to be present in your daily life.
Meditation is so powerful, it literally changes your brain.
In 2011, Harvard researchers were able to track the brain changes initiated by as little as fifteen minutes of meditation. One of the changes was a thickening of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that has to do with your attention span and emotions.
Other brain benefits from meditation include a measurable improvement in grey matter density in the hippocampus. That’s the area of the brain that controls learning and memory.
And other areas of the brain were also in wake up mode during meditation. Those areas control our self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
What all that brain talk means is you enhance at least two kinds of intelligence when you meditate. Your cognitive skills increase and emotional intelligence starts to function as intended.
Those skills put you on a course of success rather than depression. And all you have to do is get into what some meditation lovers call “the zone of silent mindfulness.
There are so many different forms of meditation and ways to practice it. Having stood the test of thousands of years of time, meditation has been explored by various religions, as well as secular practitioners.
Fortunately, the book market is overflowing with books that discuss, dissect, and teach the art of meditation.
I've listed fourteen meditation books from highly-regarded teachers and experienced practitioners who can help you find the right meditation practice for you or expand your current practice with new insights and ideas.
Here are the 14 meditation books for a mindful life:
Author Sharon Salzberg is a world-class spiritual author and teacher. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, and she has thirty years of meditation teaching experience in her impressive resume.
Salzberg decided to turn three decades of experience into a 28-day program that has all the breathing, posturing, and mind-calming methods any beginner can ask for.
Real Happiness is a 224 page, complete meditation guide in which she answers frequently asked questions about the art of meditating. It's a great book for beginning meditators with clear and concise instructions.
Pema Chödrön, the American-born Tibetan nun, offers readers a straightforward guide to meditating.
Chödrön’s worldwide reputation as a teacher and spiritual messenger is reflected in the power of her words. She explores various meditation methods and the essential practices you need to live a life full of authenticity, compassion, and connection.
In her book, she covers:
- The basics of meditation, such as getting settled, the six points of posture, your breath work, and cultivating an attitude of unconditional friendliness
- The Seven Delights and how moments of difficulty can become doorways to awakening and love
- Shamatha (or calm abiding), the art of stabilizing the mind to remain present with whatever arises
- Thoughts and emotions as “sheer delight” instead of obstacles in meditation
Says one of her reviewers, “This book answered so many questions, and was even the catalyst for a life-changing epiphany. My meditation practice is much more consistent now, and I'm learning to stay in a meditative, curious mindset as I go about my day.”
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10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story
Author Dan Harris won the 2014 Living Now Book Award for this inspirational and personal look at the art and the benefits of meditation.
Dan is a familiar face as an anchor and reporter for ABC. After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes.
His work as a news reporter in war zones contributed to him self-medicating to ease the fear and the horror of war. As a result of his anxiety and because of a new assignment covering America's faith scene, Dan, a life-long atheist, began an unexpected journey.
He interviewed people like Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama and several Jewish Buddhists and began to learn about the power of meditation.
He shares his experiences and his awakening to meditation in his own life in this hilarious, thought-provoking book. The meditation practices he outlines in his book changed his life, and readers say Dan’s book is changing their life too.
Author Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, has written a mindful meditation book that explains why the practice of meditation is useful for its own sake.
According to Kabat-Zinn, the art of meditation is a condition of being rather than a condition of doing.
His poetic chapters explain different meditative practices, and the effect they have on the person meditating. Jon calls meditation “a workout for your consciousness.”
This beautiful book presents meditation as a natural activity that can be practiced anytime and anywhere, without props or trappings.
Says one review, “By far the simplest, best explanation of mindfulness in everyday life. It gave me an entirely fresh and non-intimidating view on meditation as a whole.”
Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, gives readers practical exercises and gentle anecdotes so they can learn the skill of being fully aware and awake.
Thich Nhat Hanh shows readers how to access mindfulness in the simple daily acts they perform. He offers practical exercises to help you achieve this state of daily presence.
There is a meditative element in washing dishes, peeling an apple, and answering the phone. Those acts, and others like them, give you the opportunity to understand the nature of mindfulness as well as peacefulness.
Check out the Amazon reviews here.
Author Elizabeth Reninger knows the power of meditation and has an intuitive understanding of meditation and yoga.
Her focus is Eastern philosophy and spiritual practices. Reninger has gone into the deep recesses of mindfulness for more than the last 30 years, and she shares her experiences with her readers. This is one of the best introductions to meditation if you are a beginner.
Beginners should read this book because Reninger covers every facet of the meditating in language anyone can understand.
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness
Author John Yates book is a step-by-step toolkit for beginners, and for people who want to enhance their daily meditation practices.
As explained on the Amazon page for the book, it is a “revolutionary, science-based approach to meditation from a neuroscientist turned meditation master.”
Within the book, you'll find illustrations and charts to help you through every step of the meditation process. He shows you how the mind works and teaches you how to overcome mind wandering and distraction and how to extend your attention span.
John Yates has more than forty years of experience as a meditation guru. His focus is on Theravadin and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. John is a former professor of neuroscience and physiology.
Author Bob Roth offers readers a practical, straightforward, and simple approach to understanding the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, a form of silent mantra meditation.
According to his Amazon page, “Roth trained under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the twentieth century’s foremost scientist of consciousness and meditation, and has since become one of the most experienced and sought-after meditation teachers in the world.”
Roth has a long list of meditation students and works with Hollywood celebrities, billionaires, CEOs, inner-city youth, and combat-scarred veterans. He is the current CEO of the David Lynch Foundation and he is a Center for Leadership Performance director.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) must be taught individually by a highly trained teacher with lifelong follow-up. This book doesn't teach you TM but rather explains what it is, how it benefits you, and how to go about finding the right teacher.
This is another great Thich Nhat Hanh book.
Making Space gives readers easy-to-follow instructions for correct breathing practices, as well as setting up a breathing room in your home, as well as listening to a bell, sitting, and breathing.
He offers walking meditations, as well as tips to follow so you can eat and cook while you’re in a mindful state. The purpose is to help you infuse the atmosphere of your daily home life with mindfulness and peace and appreciate “the sacred nature of place and home.””
The beautiful illustrations in this book will inspire you to create your own meditation sanctuary in your home to facilitate your practice.
New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Singer explores the question, “Who are you?” in this intriguing work.
Michael touches on the various aspects of consciousness, and how consciousness plays a role in meditation and mindfulness.
In this book, he teaches you how to manage the habitual thoughts and emotions that limit consciousness, and how to use meditation to dwell in the present moment and release painful memories.
Says Yogi Amrit Desai, internationally recognized pioneer of modern yoga, “This is a seminal book that quite frankly is in a class by itself. In a simple, yet paradoxically profound way, Michael A. Singer takes the reader on a journey that begins with consciousness tethered to the ego and ends having taken us beyond our myopic, contained self-image to a state of inner freedom and liberation.”
During his doctoral work, Singer experienced an inner awakening and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation. In 1975, he founded Temple of the Universe, a now long-established yoga and meditation center.
The Temple of the Universe is a meditation and yoga center where people from all religions get together and experience inner peace.
You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations for Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss
Author Rebekah “Bex” Borucki brings her certified meditation and yoga teaching skills to readers who might feel they don't have the time to meditate.
Bex shows people how to create powerful meditation practices in a short amount of time. The book describes how in only four minutes you can change your life.
Borucki guides readers through 27 different meditation practices, and she also answers pertinent questions about her 4-minute meditation routines.
With her meditation prompts, compelling personal story, and personable style, she makes meditation accessible to everyone.
Author Lorin Roche offers readers a come-as-you-are type of meditation mentality.
Lorin is a meditation trainer with more than thirty years of experience. Roche answers questions and debunks myths, plus, he offers readers three easy techniques to get started.
He calls these techniques the “Do Nothing Technique,” “The Feeling At Home Exercise” and the “Salute Each Of Your Senses Technique.”
Says one reviewer, “I will join the chorus of admirers: Roche doesn't just make meditation easy, he makes it alluring and sexy. “
For those who struggle with quieting the mind during meditation, this book offers some unique insights and techniques.
Author Jason Siff explains a “Recollective Awareness” meditation technique that gives readers insight into the rich inner landscape of consciousness and the mind.
Many meditation techniques invite you to let go of thoughts, making the practitioner feel that thoughts are “bad.” Siff suggests we should allow thoughts to arise and become mindful of the thoughts so we don't reject or resist our natural mental processes.
As we observe our thoughts with curiosity, we learn more about ourselves and our inner worlds.
This meditation technique helps people make sense of their lives and bring peaceful resolutions to challenging situations.
Author Jack Kornfield is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society and the Spirit Rock Center in California and has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is a teacher in the vipassana movement in American Theravada Buddhism and trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India
“Insight” or vipassana meditation is a skill of calming the spirit and clearing the mind for higher understanding. Jack Kornfield helps beginners bring this type of meditation to life with a step-by-step approach to bringing a deep spirituality into everyday life.
In this book, Kornfield offers readers the teachings found in the best Buddhist monasteries. Meditation for Beginners gives readers simple and universal ways to start a meditation routine and is one of the best beginning meditation books.
Praise for this book is widespread and includes an endorsement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama who says, “It's encouraging to find Westerners who've sufficiently assimilated the traditions of the East to be able to share them with others as Jack is doing.”
Nothing beats the actual practice of meditation for learning the skills and becoming proficient.
However, reading books from experienced masters and practitioners can give you a variety of tools to test in your own personal practice and deepen your understanding of the various paths to a fulfilling meditation experience.
Use these books as a guide for your meditation commitment, and you'll find many unexpected doorways on your path to enlightenment!