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5 Essential Books on Meditation & Mindfulness Beginners

by Jodi

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The coming of spring is a great time for new beginnings and there is hardly a better way to kick off a fresh start than by cleansing your mind and spirit. But where do you even begin? Meditation is a great way to become in tune with yourself and rewire your brain for happiness and success.

Whether you’re new to meditation or are looking for some inspiration to help restart your practice, here are just a few good books to help inspire your journey to inner peace.

There are many different varieties of meditation, from mindfulness meditation to Buddhist, Taoist and even Christian styles, so if you’re just starting out on this journey, it can be all too easy to get lost in the sea of information. The internet is filled with how-to guides, best practice tips and advice on finding the right style for you, but there is nothing more authentic and soul-satisfying than picking up a good book. So, if you’re new to meditation, here are a few good reads to help inspire you on the road to inner peace.

1. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn 

Wherever you go, there you are book
This classic book is ideal for meditation newbies, as it covers everything from an easy-to-understand explanation of meditation, free from trendy buzzwords, to simple techniques that you can practice in everyday life.

Although it was first published in 1994, the message and practices in this book are, perhaps, even more relevant today. Escapism is everywhere and everyone is, at some point, guilty of it. Whether it’s through classic rituals of binge-watching your favorite Netflix series or endlessly scrolling through filtered lives on Instagram, the message in this book is clear and simple; Wherever you go, there you are. It challenges you to be in the present moment and wholly accepting of where you are, right here and right now.

The author, Jon Kabat-Zinn, is an American professor emeritus of medicine and former student of Buddhist teachers by the likes of Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn, which only adds to the authenticity of the teachings in this book.

Favorite quote:

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” 


2. The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

Balancing stones in Zen Garden
Allan Watts is one of my favorite authors on this list because of his succinct way of explaining the history behind Buddhism and Taoism, and how these two beliefs lead to Zen Buddhism. It was first published in 1957 and has since then been regarded as one of the best books to introduce these ancient practices to Western readers.

While reading this classic bestseller, you will get an overall understanding of meditation, as it covers everything you need to know about the fascinating origins of mindfulness, and also focuses on the principles and practices that can be carried out in everyday life.

Favorite quote:

“For if we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and the future are abstractions without any concrete reality.” 

3. THE ESSENCE OF BUDDHA: The Path to Enlightenment by Ryuho Okawa

The Essence of Buddha book

This is my favorite book on the list because it was my very first introduction to the core principles of Buddhism. There is hardly a better way to start you mindfulness journey than by taking a word of advice from the founder of The Institute for Research in Human Happiness.

The Essence of Buddha takes its readers on a journey through the pivotal moments in the life of the historical Buddha and clearly explains the methodologies and beliefs of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is said to lead its followers on the path to nirvana. The author, Ryuho Okawa, gave up his promising career in the business world to follow his pursuit of truth. In this book, he carefully separates Buddhism as a religion from that as a way of life. 

Favorite quote:

“Everything that exists is here for you as nourishment, to enrich your soul” 

4. Why Can’t I Meditate? by Nigel Wellings

People meditating

This is a great read, both for those new to the practice and for those who just can't seem to stick to their mediation routine. One of the most challenging things about meditation is knowing whether you’re “doing it right,” and a common misconception is that your mind has to be totally blank while doing it. So, when people struggle to attain this state of “blankness,” they often wonder “Why can’t I meditate.

While meditating does often involve quieting of the mind, this doesn’t mean the mind goes blank, and this is exactly what the book by Nigel Wellings explains. Through personal accounts of new meditators and practical guidance from mindfulness teachers, this modern book on mindfulness teaches its readers how to deal with the most difficult parts of meditation that often put people off the practice.

Favorite quote:

“Why is this practice so difficult? I think this is the wrong question. Rather, it’s, why is there so much difficulty in just being with myself…”

5. Mindfulness for Beginners by Martin Lippmann

Mindfulness for beginners book
If you want to discover the psychological rewards of meditation then this is the perfect read for you. This fluff-free book is ideal for logical thinkers and those new to the practice as it offers a clear and concise explanation of the practical benefits of practicing meditation daily.

In this book, the emphasis is not so much on the spiritual aspect of the practice but more on discovering the benefits of meditation and how it can help you achieve both your personal and professional goals. The author, Martin Lippman, shares pragmatic teachings for the modern individual, from learning how to breathe to preparing for meditation and a few great tips for mindfulness meditation.

Favorite quote:

"Happiness is not a destination. it’s a journey. Happiness is in the present moment.”

Other inspiring books to add to your reading list:

Buddha on a rock

-Self-Meditation by Barbara Ann Kipfer
-The Pursuit of Happiness, Ruth Whippman
-The Science of Being and Art of Living by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Ready for a fresh start? Then take the plunge and go on a rejuvenating meditation and detox retreat

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