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.

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The books I picked & why

Mindfulness in Plain English

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Book cover of Mindfulness in Plain English

Why did I love 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.

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mindfulness in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A masterpiece.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994, is one of the bestselling — and most influential — books in the field of mindfulness. It’s easy to see why.

Author Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. The book showcases Bhante’s trademark clarity and wit as he explores the tool of meditation, what it does, and how to make it work.
This book is:
A best-selling introduction to mindfulness Full of practical advice on developing a meditation practice…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Vanessa Zuisei Goddard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Still Running as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to bring the power of stillness into your running practice with meditations, guidance, and inspiration from a long-time runner and Zen practitioner.

Running is more than just exercise. Running is a practice, a moving meditation, that brings the power of stillness to all the activities in our lives. Vanessa Zuisei Goddard combines her experience leading running retreats with her two-decade practice of Zen to offer insight, humor, and practical guidance for grounding our running, or any physical practice, in meditation.

When we see running solely as exercise and focus on improving our times, covering a certain number of…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Brad Stulberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Practice of Groundedness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Join thousands of readers and learn about the foundations of sustainable excellence and concrete habits for peak performance and a more genuine kind of success.
"A thoughtful, actionable book for pursuing more excellence with less angst." --Adam Grant, author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
"Ambitious, far-reaching, and impactful" -- David Epstein, author of Range

"This book taps into something that so many of us feel but can't articulate." --Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
From the bestselling author of Peak Performance comes a powerful antidote to heroic individualism and the ensuing epidemic of…

Book cover of The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Peak Performance

Why did I love 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.

By George Mumford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mindful Athlete as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The all-star adviser to athletes like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan shares his revolutionary, mindfulness-based program for elevating your game

“George helped me understand the art of mindfulness. To be neither distracted or focused, rigid or flexible, passive or aggressive. I learned just to be.”—Kobe Bryant

Michael Jordan credits George Mumford with transforming his on-court leadership of the Bulls, helping Jordan lead the team to six NBA championships. Mumford also helped Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom and countless other NBA players turn around their games. A widely respected public speaker and coach, Mumford is sharing his own story…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Jon Kabat-Zinn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wherever You Go, There You Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explains how anyone can use mindfulness--the art of living each moment fully as it happens--to reduce anxiety, achieve inner peace, and enrich life.

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