9 Must-Read Meditation Books For a Peaceful Life

9 Must-Read Meditation Books For a Peaceful Life

Research shows that approximately 3 out of every 10 Americans will have an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. 

To address this widespread issue, one effective strategy is the practice of meditation. Reading meditation books offers several benefits specifically tailored to enhance your mindfulness journey:

  • Provides structured guidance to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
  • Enhances self-awareness by offering insights into mindfulness techniques.
  • Improves attention span through focused reading and practice.
  • Supports addiction recovery with strategies grounded in mindfulness.
  • Aids in combating age-related memory loss by encouraging mental exercises.

If you’re eager to incorporate meditation into your daily routine but aren’t sure where to start, meditation books are an excellent resource. They offer the convenience of self-paced learning, allowing you to absorb and apply the principles of meditation in a way that best suits your lifestyle.

9 Best Books on Mediation to Read Now

Read on to discover must-read meditation books that are powerful enough to change your life. 

1. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind – Pema Chödrön

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
  • Hardcover Book
  • Chödrön, Pema (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Pages: 184

Reading time: 5 hours and 52 minutes

Best For: Beginners

Published in 2013, How to Meditate introduces its readers to the basics of meditation. The author, Pema Chödrön, is an American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun who wants to establish monastic traditions in the West. Her work thoroughly discusses themes such as overcoming one’s fears and finding mindfulness through compassion. 

The book has won the honor of being on the Library Journal’s Best Books of 2013 selection.   The author swiftly introduces her readers to the basic techniques of meditation, such as breathing and posture exercises. Pema talks about Shamatha (or calm abiding), the art of stabilizing the mind to remain present with whatever arises. She focuses on reshaping one’s thoughts and emotions to develop an attitude of unconditional friendliness. 

She does so beautifully with simple phrases you can find throughout the book, such as “…that which is threatening to ego is liberating to the heart.” 

2. Meditation for Beginners – Jack Kornfield

Meditation for Beginners
  • Kornfield, Jack (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 93 Pages - 08/01/2008 (Publication Date) - Sounds True Adult (Publisher)

Pages: 93

Reading time: 99 minutes

Best for: Beginners

Want to learn from the expert himself? Jack Kornfield is your man! He comes from a position of experience as he holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He is a big name in the industry, having founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. 

He wrote this marvel in 2008 to guide new readers and has been successful in reshaping lives ever since. This book comes in a unique DVD version as well, where the maestro, Jack Kornfield, brings you the experience of a meditation retreat from the comfort of your home. 

This step-by-step guide is designed to welcome you to the world of mediation. Being the complete package that it is, it covers everything from ancient practices and challenges in meditation, to breath work and coping with stubborn emotions. 

It has a special focus on dissolving the fear of death, as well as coping with a ‘busy brain’. Kornfield brilliantly covers these areas with his gentle delivery and accessible language, making the content easy to digest. 

Here’s what readers from Amazon have to say: “This short little book is well written, short, sweet, and to the point.” 

3. 8 Minute Meditation Expanded: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life – Victor Davich

8 Minute Meditation Expanded: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life.
428 Reviews
8 Minute Meditation Expanded: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life.
  • Davich, Victor (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 12/02/2014 (Publication Date) - TarcherPerigee (Publisher)

Pages: 208

Reading time: 3 hours and 28 minutes

Best for: Beginners

Written by the best-selling author, none other than the creator of the 8-minute meditation program himself, Victor Davich, this book is an amazing all-rounder. Victor is truly a wizard, having transformed 80,000 lives through his ‘troubleshooting your mindfulness’ mantra. 

If you want to practice meditation in a way that is effective but not time-consuming, you’ve got what you’re looking for. This straightforward read follows the ‘8 minutes a day’ principle. So, being busy can no longer be an excuse for you! 

The content is digestible, to the point, and impactful. It gives its readers a road map by engaging them in stepwise meditation techniques. It also has an additional section on enriching your meditation practice beyond the basics. 

As per Library Journal, it is “Indeed humorous, wise, effective, and resolutely nonsectarian.” 

4. A Woman’s Book of Meditation: Discovering the Power of a Peaceful Mind –  Hari Kaur Khalsa

A Woman's Book of Meditation: Discovering the Power of a Peaceful Mind
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hari Kaur Khalsa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Pages: 184

Reading time: 3 hours and 4 minutes

Level: Intermediate 

Internationally renowned meditation expert, Hari Kaur Khalsa teaches Kundalini Classes and Teacher Training in the US and abroad. In 2006, she authored this work of art to underscore the strains faced by women in today’s day and age. 

She encourages women from all walks of life to discover and channel their inner creativity through the secrets of Kundalini, a form of divine feminine energy. The book is neatly organized into sections, with each one tailored to the evolving nature of a woman’s physical and emotional needs. 

It promises to help its female readers alleviate stress and reach the true potential of motherhood. The book contains original Sikh versions of Kundalini meditation practices, alongside their English translations.

In the words of an Amazon reader: “Cutting through to the core of our soul and womanhood! My current favorite. Unique, easy, focused practices that are powerful and effective.”

5. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness – J. Mark G. Williams

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Book & CD)
2,039 Reviews
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (Book & CD)
  • The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
  • Mark Williams (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Pages: 273

Reading time: 4 hours and 33 minutes

Level: Intermediate 

J. Mark G. Williams published The Mindful Way through Depression in 2007 to help thousands of those grappling with depression. The author, who is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, extends his nuanced perspective on different kinds of treatments, as well as coping with suicidal behavior.

Co-authored by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic, the book gently delivers guided meditations, giving readers the complete picture. 

If you suffer from depression, this book might be just what you need to help you discover the path to healing. It covers tips from Eastern meditative techniques, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and cognitive behavioral therapy, aiming to help you make breakthroughs in facing difficult emotions headfirst. It also helps readers through motivational self-help techniques. 

As confirmed through readers’ reviews, “I have never suffered depression ever again, even in the face of serious hardship.”

6. The Headspace Guide to Mindfulness and Meditation – Andy Puddicome

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day
  • Puddicombe, Andy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 09/27/2016 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Griffin (Publisher)

Pages: 224

Reading time: 3 hours and 44 minutes

Level: Intermediate

As a renowned former monk with over 10 years of experience in practicing spirituality and mindfulness, Andy Puddicome is your guy. Puddicome discusses rich ancient practices in a way that makes them compatible with the up-tempo realities of today’s modern world. 

Here’s his promise in his very own words: “Quiet the mind, feel less stressed, less tired, and achieve a new level of calm and fulfillment in just ten minutes a day”. 

The book makes a unique promise; unlike other meditation books that might need your undivided attention, The Headspace Guide to Mindfulness and Meditation demands only 10 minutes a day. 

It targets every area, from productivity and focus, to stress and anxiety relief, sleep, weight loss, and personal relationships. So, it leads to benefits such as better sleep and healthier weight. 

Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom, sums up the all-rounding nature of the book by saying: “This is the only book on meditation you will ever need. Andy Puddicombe demystifies what is commonly an esoteric practice and brings it right into your living room, your office, and your heart.” 

7. Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy – Katsuki Sekida

Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy (Shambhala Classics)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Sekida, Katsuki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Pages: 264

Reading time: 4 hours and 24 minutes

Level: Advanced

Katsuki Sekida has a respected history, starting from his Zen practice in 1915. He trained at the Empuku-ji Monastery in Kyoto and the Ryutaku-ji Monastery in Mishima, Japan, where he had rich experiences of samadhi early in life. In 2005, he used his knowledge to author Zen Training, a comprehensive handbook for zazen, seated meditation practice. 

The book gives apt guidance by explaining hitherto esoteric practices in layman’s terms. It unpacks knowledge about every aspect of zazen, from posture and breathing to the function of the abdominal muscles, muscle tone, and the mechanisms of wakefulness and attention. 

It puts traditional Zen concepts side by side with Western philosophy and psychology. After its publication, the book sparked debate over a critical reevaluation of the enlightenment experience called kensho, as the author criticized it for undermining other important aspects of Zen training. 

With its focal point being discipline, this masterpiece teaches one how to not simply live in zen, but to train in zen. 

As per Choice, it is “An extraordinarily important book. It should be on the shelves of all libraries.” 

8. The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness – John Yates, Matthew Immergut, and Jeremy Graves

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness
  • Yates, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 01/03/2017 (Publication Date) - Atria Books (Publisher)

Pages: 512

Reading time: 8 hours and 32 minutes

Level: Advanced

Looking for guidance from an experienced lens? John Yates should be your best bet. He was not just a PhD holder, but also a meditation master for more than four decades in the Tibetan and Theravadin Buddhist traditions. 

In The Mind Illuminated, his wisdom is coupled with Matthew Immergut’s seasoned knowledge of meditation, coming from him being a lifelong meditator and a dedicated student of Culadasa.

Whether you are just starting, or you find yourself stuck after years and years of meditation practices, this is where you should stop looking and start reading. This book covers ancient spiritual teachings and combines them with learnings from the latest brain science to provide direction to anyone interested in achieving the benefits of mindfulness. 

To make the read more engaging, the book comes with illustrations and charts to help you picture each stage in your head. 

Dr. Yates offers techniques to improve your attention span and avoid distractions during meditation. More so, its 10-stage model elaborates upon how the mind works in six interludes distributed among the chapters on meditation advice. 

In the words of Daniel Ingram, MD, author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, it is “At once comprehensive and also very easy to read and follow in practice, this is the most thorough, straightforward, clear, and practical guide to training the mind that I have ever found.” 

9. Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen – Shunryu Suzuki

Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
  • Suzuki, Shunryu (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 06/02/2009 (Publication Date) - HarperOne (Publisher)

Pages: 176

Reading time: 3 hours 

Level: Advanced

Rich and insightful, Not Always So offers Shunryu Suzuki’s wise insights. Born in a family of Zen masters, Suzuki was a revered spiritual teacher. When he came to San Fransisco in 1959, he noticed that some priests had come to the West with “new suits and shiny shoes”. Suzuki, however, decided to come “in an old robe with a shiny [shaved] head.” 

9 Best Books on Mediation to Read Now

The book discusses Suzuki’s lectures from around the time of his death. As he knew he was on his deathbed at the time, his words had a sense of urgency, intimacy, and rawness to them. 

Suzuki does not restrict his work to rigid techniques. Instead, he offers guidance that empowers your freedom, enabling you to know your true heart and to express yourself fully. It claims to be “practicing the true spirit of Zen”, and it does so by encouraging you to learn lessons from within your soul. 

As per a starred review by Publishers Weekly, “This will prove highly valuable to anyone, rank novice or Zen master.” 

Final Word

These nine meditation books offer a diverse array of insights and practical techniques, tailored for both beginners and advanced practitioners. Whether you seek to alleviate stress, enhance mindfulness, or delve deeper into the philosophical aspects of meditation, these books serve as valuable guides on your journey toward inner peace and mindfulness.

Disclaimer: Last update on 2024-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

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