The Best Meditation and Mindfulness Books

There are so many books about meditation on the market that it can be hard to find one that you actually read and also either helps you start meditating or extends your existing meditation practice.

Some of you emailed me privately and asked for suggestions – here are are a few reviews of my favorites.

My Favorite Meditation and Mindfulness Books

Okay without further ado, here are the books I have enjoyed the most and want to share with Namaste Nourished Readers. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the most influential figures in modern mindfulness, and his work has been instrumental in bringing mindfulness to mainstream culture, especially in the United States. In fact he has been referred to as the “Master of Mindfulness.”  Jon is the founder of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
He has written extensively on mindfulness and its benefits for people living with stress, pain, and illness. He also founded a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) that is now taught at medical schools, hospitals, clinics, prisons, veterans centers, churches and other institutions around the world.
“Meditation is neither shutting things out nor off. It is seeing things clearly, and deliberately positioning yourself differently in relationship to them.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wherever You Go, There You Are is an awesome book. If you could only buy one book about why mediation and mindfulness are important, I highly recommend this book. He is a great writer and the reason he is known for bringing mindfulness into mainstream culture is because he is such a great communicator.
This book is for you if you are looking for a simple and straightforward introduction to Buddhist meditation practice from one of the country’s leading authorities on stress-reduction techniques. The principles in the book are ones that Dr. Kabat-Zinn has taught to thousands of patients in his mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) clinics. So you get a ton of wisdom for the price of an inexpensive book.  
I think this book is a great overview for everyone and it was the first one I purchased too. If you are looking for a very practical step by step plan or program, then keep reading. The books below are much more structured in that way.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  • Great product!
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 280 Pages - 01/01/2005 (Publication Date) - Mjf (Publisher)

Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You

If you are the type of person that wants a a very structured “let’s get going” type of program, this book by experienced meditation teacher Benjamin Decker is really good!

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Personally I really liked this book because it aims to be brief and very focused versus being in-depth and thorough. If you want a more in-depth book, see Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book above. But if you want to get started with some simple and very practical mediation steps and you like structured challenges, this book is an excellent option!

If you like fitness challenges and thinks like that, this book is a great option for you.  It is unique among these books because it offers a clear 10-day program for learning 10 different meditation techniques―one for each day of the program.  The part I found useful was getting exposed to 10 different techniques in 10 days, including Zen Mediation (my personal fav!) walking meditations, body scans, and many more.

The book is also very much a step-by-step book so if you like structure and guidance, this book is one you should consider!

Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You
  • Decker, Benjamin W. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 172 Pages - 05/15/2018 (Publication Date) - Althea Press (Publisher)

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Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday

Matthew Sockolov is a well known mindfulness meditation teacher trained by Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California.He has taught at addiction treatment centers across California, meditation centers, and in online groups. Matthew first discovered meditation as a teenager struggling with mental health and drug addiction issues.

He found that the practices of compassion, mindfulness, and loving-kindness helped him face his difficulties and grow through his young adulthood. He is very passionate about taking the Buddha’s ancient teachings and making them relevant to modern life.

So if you are the type of person who wants less theory and history and would rather have some very specific exercises and action steps, this book should be at the top of your list. Also, what’s unique about this book is that it comes in a spiral-bound version. This is great because you can let it lie flat on a table or the ground and I found that helpful when I was sitting on the floor to have the book next to me as I tried the exercises.

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The book consists of 75 essential exercises to offer practical guidance for anyone who wants to learn how to apply mindful meditation to specific aspects of your life. Some of the initial mediations are just 5 minutes, so he makes it very quick and easy to get going! The exercises build over time and help you evolve a mindfulness practice.

Also, the book is organized around 3 sections

  1. Basic Mindfulness Exercises – these 25 exercises are the basics and will help you master the fundamentals. The general focus is on learning to detach from your thoughts, learning techniques like noting, feeling grounded and also basic breathing techniques. Personally I had some prior exposure to meditation before I first read this book but he is such a good teacher that it felt like a useful refresher and I enjoyed working through all of the exercises.
  2. Everyday Mindfulness – once you have the foundation of the basics, the 2nd section of the book focuses on very very specific situations where you might to be calmer and more clear minded. For example, if you want to be more mindful while you are cleaning your house, giving a speech, shopping – all of these and many more (22 more!) are in this section. This section is useful to find a few that may be causing issues for you or things you want to incorporate into your daily routine. The one I found most useful was #42 Bedtime Mindfulness – it helped me created a more relaxed bedtime routine.
  3. Mindful Moods – this section of the book expands on the other exercises and these are more advanced. If you need help to stop overthinking (rumination) then exercise 53 is a useful one. We have all gotten caught up in not being able to let a specific situation go and this one helped me get over something that I kept reliving in my mind.

In summary, this book is very applied. And the 75 exercises that are designed to only take 5 minutes – are very accessible to anyone and a great way to get your mindfulness practice started.

Practicing Mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday
  • Sockolov, Matthew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 210 Pages - 09/11/2018 (Publication Date) - Althea Press (Publisher)

Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day

If you are under 35 and active on social media, you probably have seen Jay Shetty! He has emerged as a podcast host and social media superstar that seems to suddenly be everywhere over the last few years. In 2017, Forbes Magazine named him as one of the top 30 under 30 influencers in social media. And then in 2018, he had the #1 video on Facebook with over 360 million views.

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Across all of his social media channels, he has more than 38 million followers and has produced over 400 viral videos which have been seen over 8 BILLION times. Oh and he also has a podcast, On Purpose, which has been consistently ranked among the top podcasts in the Health and Wellness category.

“When we tune out the opinions, expectations, and obligations of the world around us, we begin to hear ourselves.” – Jay Shetty

Before he became famous on social media, Jay Shetty went to India to train as a monk after high school. He would mediate daily for four to eight hours and devoted his life to helping others. As Jay tells his narrative, after three years, one of his teachers told him he could have more impact on the world if he left the monk’s path and shared his experiences with the world.

He took the advice and returned to London to live with his parents. When he returned home he started to reconnect with his high school friends who were now successful in their careers working for large well known companies. But they were experience tremendous stress, pressure and very unhappy. They say how calm Mr. Shetty was and as the story goes, they invited him to coach them on mindfulness to improve their well-being. And that is how his career got started.

This book is a constellation of all of his learnings as a monk. He is a great storyteller, and I enjoyed reading the book. He spends a lot of time focusing on paying attention to your thought process and how it impacts your perceptions and your day to day experiences.

A couple specific things that I found useful were his discussion about how to overcome negativity and overthinking. The book is very inspirational so if you like super positive self-help type of books you will probably love this one.

Who is this book for? If you are under 35 and like social media and have a shorter attention span, this book will probably resonate with you.

The criticism of this book is that it is not really original, it is more of a compilation of others’ work. I think that critique is generally true. But most people will still find some nuggets in the book and it is well written and inspiring too.

Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day
  • Hardcover Book
  • Shetty, Jay (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 09/08/2020 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

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