The best books on why meditation is worth your time and effort

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

I wrote...

How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

What is my book about?

Why bother with meditation? You’ll find freedom using the mind-body connection as you transform any movement into a powerful mindful meditation practice. What is meditation? Silent retreats? Yoga? Tai Chi? What if you could meditate during fitness or daily activities such as lifting weights, dancing with your love, or walking across a room? What if you could make every move a meditation?

In Make Every Move a Meditation, award-winning author, meditation leader, and mental health advocate Nita Sweeney offers centuries-old techniques to help readers connect with the present moment, bringing mindfulness into any activity. Studies show both exercise and meditation reduce anxiety, stabilize blood pressure, improve mood and cognition, and lead to a deeper self-relationship and wisdom. Movement is medicine, and meditation is medicine. Let’s combine the two.

The books I picked & why

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Mindfulness in Plain English

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Book cover of Mindfulness in Plain English

Why this book?

In this straightforward meditation manual, Bhante G. (as he is affectionately called) sets forth the hows and whys of mindfulness meditation. When I first learned to meditate, I found this simple but profound book the most accessible of the many books available. My husband and I were so impressed with Bhante’s wisdom that we brought him to Columbus, Ohio to teach a weekend retreat for our local mindfulness group. He was warm, caring, and funny. His personality comes across in this small, but mighty book.

Still Running: The Art of Meditation in Motion

By Vanessa Zuisei Goddard,

Book cover of Still Running: The Art of Meditation in Motion

Why this book?

I recommend this book not because the author runs, as do I, but because she connects the physical body with freedom and insight. She has felt the stillness during movement. You are fully in the moment and everything is one. I met Vanessa Zeuisei Goddard, by chance when my husband and I visited Zen Mountain Monastery where she was practicing and where Ed had practiced years before. The retreats were between sessions, on a break from silence, so she and I were able to talk. To speak with someone who is both on the meditative path and who meditates while she moves gave me the courage to move forward with my work on my own movement meditation book. I step into the lineage, a tradition her lovely volume follows.

The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds--Not Crushes--Your Soul

By Brad Stulberg,

Book cover of The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds--Not Crushes--Your Soul

Why this book?

I found Brad Stulberg’s latest book when I was researching my book and immediately toned down my prose to meet the challenge of distilling practices nearly impossible to explain in simple terms anyone can understand. Sound impossible? Brad makes it look effortless. There’s just enough science balanced by personal experience and other anecdotes that what could have been a PhD dissertation (was it?) reads with ease. The power and simplicity make it elegant and ever so useful.

The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Peak Performance

By George Mumford,

Book cover of The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Peak Performance

Why this book?

In addition to the many books on meditation and mindfulness practice, I read performance books to add that angle to my own book. Even if someone only wanted to run faster, jump higher, or hit a better golf shot, I wanted them to find something more. This is also true of Mumford’s book. He offers profound advice for athletes of any type learned from his experience and the journeys of the professional athletes he has coached. There’s kindness without sugar-coating and profound vulnerability on these pages. I read it straight through.

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

By Jon Kabat-Zinn,

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

Why this book?

Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the founding teachers of mindfulness practice in the United States. Wherever You Go There You Are, another simple yet profound gem, sets forth the benefits and techniques for living in the moment. I really enjoy how he talks about the many ways to meditate. There is no one posture, no one practice, it is all about what you do with your awareness. As the subtitle says, the book explains how to take mindfulness meditation off the cushion and into everyday life.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in meditation, self-acceptance, and Buddhism?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about meditation, self-acceptance, and Buddhism.

Meditation Explore 92 books about meditation
Self-Acceptance Explore 34 books about self-acceptance
Buddhism Explore 175 books about Buddhism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like When Things Fall Apart, Lovingkindness, and The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (Volume 5) (The Oatmeal) if you like this list.