Helpful books on meditation practice

Cultivating a solidly based, regular meditation practice is of incalculable value. To help you establish a firm foundation, reliable guidance can be essential. Here is a select list of books and recordings that we believe can make a big difference in developing a dependable and authentic meditation practice.

Recorded talks

There are thousands of fantastic recorded Dharma talks on every imaginable subject freely available at the website Dharma Seed. Our Sangha uses these talks frequently for our weekly discussions.

Getting started, finding your ground

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, Sharon Salzberg

Set up as a 28-day program of introducing mindfulness and meditation into your life, this guide can be used at your own pace. The basic kinds of Early Buddhist meditation are covered here: concentration, mindfulness, loving kindness, etc., and an included CD is provided for those who would like to be guided as they learn to meditate.

The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh 

This brief book is a heartfelt introduction to mindfulness in meditation and in everyday life by one of the great Buddhist teachers of the current age.  A spiritual classic, it offers a well grounded place to begin by establishing the attitude of heart and mind that will yield a deep connection with the practice. Here is an Amazon link if you want a quick way to purchase the book.

Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation, Gil Fronsdal

In this talk, which includes a guided meditation, Gil describes the reason for our practice and explores the mechanisms of our mind. It’s the first talk of a series, but it’s valuable just by itself. The page also includes a transcript of the talk if you’d prefer to read.

Further steps in meditation

Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Gunaratana

A more extended investigation into the variety and subtlety of mindfulness meditation, with detailed instructions for practice. Good as a first introduction, it may be even better as a second book about the path, as one begins to encounter both the joys and the difficulties of meditation and to look for the wisest ways to meet them both.

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, Bhante Gunaratana

In this book, the venerable author gives an excellent introduction to the Buddha’s Eightfold Path of cultivation and development.

Lovingkindness:  The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, Sharon Salzberg

Complementing Vipassana (Insight) meditation in Early Buddhist practice is Metta Meditation, the practice of lovingkindness or deep friendliness. This practice cultivates a deep concentration and an open heart toward all, beginning with perhaps the most difficult person – oneself. In a series of meditations and reflections on their relationships to life, Salzberg guides us through ever deepening cultivation of genuine kindness and goodwill.

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening, Joseph Goldstein 

A careful and readable guide to the wisdom, ethics, and meditation as fully articulated by the Early Buddhist scriptures, by a clear and engaging contemporary teacher. Every facet of life, inner and outer, can be brought within the field of mindfulness, and each step along the Eightfold Path can lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.  

For an audio versions of this approach, look to, and in particular to the recorded courses by Joseph Goldstein.

Focused and Fearless as well as Wisdom Wide and Deep, Shaila Catherine

These works offer guidance for those further along the path, emphasizing the jhanas, or deepest states of concentration.  “Focused and Fearless” is the shorter book, and yet provides very careful guidance into the jhanas as well as the insights into radiant states of mind.  “Wisdom Wide and Deep” provides detailed examinations of Buddhism’s systematic understanding of stages of wisdom, the hinderances to practice, cause and effect, and the nature of mind among other key topics.  Both of these books will be of most use to those who already have an established meditation practice.