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Looking for a book to help guide you in your meditation journey? We’ve rounded up the top meditation books on the market.

Person sitting cross-legged on a blue rug, meditating while reading a bookShare on Pinterest
Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Images

Meditation is one of the most talked about practices in the mental health space because of its multitude of science-backed benefits.

Although the concept of meditation may seem quite straightforward — set aside time to focus the mind on the present moment and attempt to quiet all other thoughts — the practice itself can be challenging.

Some people suggest thinking of meditation as a skill and the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked and trained just like any other part of the body.

Still, if you’re just getting started, you may be unsure about where to begin, or you may find the practice harder than you expected. And even if you have some experience with meditation, it can be challenging to stick with it if you’re not noticing any immediate benefits.

A good way to stay inspired as you begin (or continue) your meditation journey is to read a meditation book. Reading about meditation may provide you with a resource you can turn to every day to keep you invested in your practice.

If you want to jump directly to the sections for each book, you can click the links below.

Many types of meditation books exist, such as books focused on someone’s personal experience with meditation, the science behind it, advice for meditating, or even just written meditations you can follow along with.

We looked into more than 50 books on meditation and came up with our top six picks. We ensured that these books were diverse in topic so anyone could find what they were looking for on the list.

To narrow the list, we considered the following factors:

  • reviews and ratings
  • qualifications of the author
  • number of copies sold
  • readability and overall organization of the book

Plus, all books have been vetted to ensure they meet Psych Central’s medical, editorial, and business standards.

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is low cost, whereas two dollar signs indicate a higher price range.

Prices for the physical format, most commonly paperback, were used for the price comparison. Most of the books also have Kindle and audio editions, which may increase or decrease the price slightly.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under or at $15
  • $$ = over $15
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Best overall

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

  • Price: $
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

“The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle is one of the most popular books in the meditation space.

This book is more philosophical than others on the list, as many of the chapters focus on the concept of the mind and of enlightenment.

Although Tolle’s book is quite philosophical and spiritual, it doesn’t adhere to any specific religion or doctrine, since Tolle believes each person’s journey to spiritual enlightenment is entirely personal.

You can think of this book as more of a spiritual self-help guide than a meditation book. It even includes exercises for you to try to begin your journey of personal growth.

Why we chose it as ‘best overall‘

If you’re looking for a book that helps you better understand the importance of not just meditation but all practices of self-reflection and remaining in the present, this is a good choice for you.

What we like

  • inspiring
  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • includes exercises to try at home

What to look out for

  • may need to read more than once to understand topics
  • not specific to meditation practices

Popular quote: “The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.”

Best for science lovers

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness

  • Price: $$
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle, audiobook, audio CD

“The Mind Illuminated,” written by John Yates, Matthew Immergut, and Jeremy Graves, explores the science behind why meditation works and how to begin your practice.

The book follows the teachings of Buddhism and is a step-by-step guide for the various obstacles you must overcome to become fully mindful.

The book introduces a total of 10 steps as well as chapters between some of the steps that dive into the science of meditation and the Buddhist understanding of mindfulness.

Yates, the main author of the book, has some of the most impressive credentials on this list as he is both a neuroscientist and meditation master of more than 40 years.

Why we chose it as ‘best for science lovers‘

“The Mind Illuminated” is one of the best meditation books available for people looking for a science-based approach to meditation and overall mindfulness.

What we like

  • step-by-step meditation guide
  • science approach to meditation
  • exceptional qualifications of the authors

What to look out for

  • long (more than 500 pages)
  • very little neuroscience actually included

Popular quote: “As paradoxical as it may seem, the craving to avoid suffering and pursue pleasure is the actual cause of suffering.”

Best for beginners

Mindfulness in Plain English

  • Price: $
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle

“Mindfulness in Plain English,” written by Bhante Gunaratana, is a highly accessible mindfulness and meditation book. It follows the practices of Buddhism and begins by exploring why everyone should meditate and what is and is not meditation.

The remainder of the book walks readers through how to approach meditation and the various challenges they may encounter when beginning their practice.

Why we chose it as ‘best for beginners‘

This book uses simple language to keep the concepts of mindfulness and meditation as accessible as possible. It also contains wit, making it an enjoyable and engaging read.

What we like

  • straightforward language
  • great for beginners
  • engaging read

What to look out for

  • more focused on how to mentally approach meditation than a step-by-step guide for meditating

Popular quote: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.”

Best for meditation skeptics

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story

  • Price: $
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

“10% Happier,” written by Dan Harris, is one of the best autobiographies focused on mindfulness and meditation.

Harris began his meditation journey after he had a panic attack on national television in 2004 and realized he needed to make serious changes in his life.

If you’re looking for something funny and relatable that shows the benefits of meditation, “10% Happier” is a good option.

Why we chose it as ‘best for meditation skeptics‘

This book isn’t as much of a self-help book or meditation guide as others on the list, but it’s a great story and may inspire even the biggest skeptics to give meditation a try.

What we like

  • firsthand account of the power of meditation
  • funny and engaging
  • #1 New York Times bestseller

What to look out for

  • autobiography, not a self-help book or meditation guide

Popular quote: “Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy. Because many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. And imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one. That is continuous stress.”

Best for cultivating happiness

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

  • Price: $
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

“The Art of Happiness,” written by the Dalai Lama himself and psychiatrist Dr. Howard Cutler, explores the relationship between happiness, inner peace, and compassion.

Cutler helps the Dalai Lama explain Buddhist teachings on meditation and mindfulness in a more digestible manner and provides insights into the Dalai Lama’s own personal life story.

This book is not as good of a meditation guide or self-help book as other books on our list, but it does provide excellent insights into what happiness can look like and how to go about cultivating it in everyday life.

Why we chose it as ‘best for cultivating happiness‘

If you’re interested in what the Dalai Lama has to say about happiness and to learn more about his life story, this is a great choice that will likely leave you feeling inspired.

What we like

  • inspiring
  • great insights about cultivating happiness
  • includes the life story of the Dalai Lama

What to look out for

  • not a step-by-step guide
  • can feel more like Cutler’s book than the Dalai Lama’s

Popular quote: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Best for depression

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness

  • Price: $$
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook, audio CD

Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and John Kabat-Zinn’s book, “The Mindful Way Through Depression,” uses both cognitive therapy techniques and meditation practices to help readers manage their depression.

The book can help you learn how to stay in the present moment and begin to let go of what you cannot control.

A CD also comes with this book that offers guided meditations. This way, you can easily transfer what you learn from the book to the audio meditation sessions.

Why we chose it as ‘best for depression‘

The purpose of this book is to combine Western and Eastern views on depression and happiness to provide a more holistic approach to navigating depression.

What we like

  • authors are cognitive therapy and mindfulness experts
  • comes with a CD that offers guided meditation
  • focuses exclusively on managing depression

What to look out for

  • focuses on more than just meditation techniques

Popular quote: “Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future, and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be.”

BookBest forPrice categoryFormat
The Power of Nowoverall$• paperback
• hardcover
• Kindle
• audiobook
The Mind Illuminatedscience lovers$$• paperback
• Kindle
• audiobook
• audio CD
Mindfulness in Plain Englishbeginners$• paperback
• Kindle
10% Happierskeptics$• paperback
• hardcover
• Kindle
• audiobook
The Art of Happinesshappiness$• paperback
• hardcover
• Kindle
• audiobook
The Mindful Way Through Depressiondepression$$• paperback
• hardcover
• Kindle
• audiobook
• audio CD

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in this roundup, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a meditation book:

  • Type of meditation. Are you interested in a specific type of meditation? If you’re unsure about what types of meditation exist, consider checking out the FAQs section below.
  • Type of content. Are you looking for a book to teach you how to meditate or are you interested in meditation in more general terms? Do you want to learn about its origin and history? Are you interested in a personal story of someone with lived experience?
  • Author qualifications. Is it important for you that the author has training in meditation, or are you more interested in hearing from someone who was new to meditation themself?
  • Format. Are you interested in reading a hard copy or digital version of the book, or would it be more helpful to listen along?
  • Recommendations. What do readers have to say about the book? Did the book come recommended from a trusted friend or mental health expert?

Who should meditate?

Meditation is for anyone interested in trying it out to see whether it may improve well-being. It can benefit children, teens, and adults alike.

Some people may have an easier time making it a habit. Others may find that it doesn’t work for them. For example, some people with specific medical conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience that trying to incorporate mindfulness or meditation into their routine may turn the practice into a compulsion and have a negative effect on mental well-being.

If you’re interested, then the best thing is to try it, stick with it for a few weeks, and decide whether it’s right for you. If you live with a mental health condition and are unsure about how meditation may affect you, consider speaking with your treatment team.

What are the benefits of meditation?

The part of the mind being worked during meditation is primarily emotional and attentional regulation. That’s why studies have revealed meditation can significantly reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Plus, this improvement in mental health may even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Not only can meditation improve well-being and memory, but it can also physically alter the brain.

For instance, a 2013 study found that people who regularly meditate had a larger hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning, memory, and emotion.

Plus, research from 2012 notes that people with depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus.

Although it’s still unclear whether people with depression have a smaller hippocampus because of depression or as a preexisting condition, studies suggest that increasing the volume of this part of the brain has positive effects on long-term emotional well-being.

You can learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in our in-depth article.

What types of meditation are there?

You may have heard of guided and unguided meditations. This doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific type of meditation but instead to whether meditations are done with or without guidance:

  • Guided meditation. In a guided meditation, a teacher walks you through the practice step by step. This is a great option for beginners.
  • Semi-guided meditation. In this type of meditation, the teacher still provides some guidance but to a much lesser degree compared with guided meditations.
  • Unguided meditation. You’ll do this type of meditation on your own. You may do it in complete silence or use calming music or nature sounds as a background noise.

Almost all types of meditation can be practiced in a guided, semi-guided, and unguided way. Here are some common types of meditation:

  • Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment rather than thinking about the past or future. Allow your thoughts to pass without judgment and focus on the here and now.
  • Breathing meditation. This is a type of mindfulness meditation that focuses on the breath. It often involves counting or other methods to regulate and focus on slow and deep breathing.
  • Reflection. To practice a reflection meditation, you’ll ask yourself a question and focus on how you feel about this question. It isn’t about the thoughts you may have about the question, but about your feelings.
  • Walking meditation. As the name suggests, walking meditations are done while walking. You can focus on the things you see, hear, and smell, or on how your body moves.
  • Visualization. During a visualization you picture something in your mind, focusing on the effect the image has on your mind and body.
  • Yoga meditation. Assorted styles of yoga meditation exist, but most include the Relaxation Pose as a prominent feature, as it helps relax your body.
  • Chakra meditation. Chakras are your body’s centers of energy. The goal of chakra meditation is to keep these chakras open and balanced.

Are guided meditations as good as solo meditations?

Guided meditations aren’t “better” or “worse” than solo meditations — or vice versa. It all depends on what works best for you.

Guided meditations are a good way to get started, as they offer narration from a teacher who may help you focus. Some meditators decide to stick with guided meditations long term, while others may prefer to shift to solo, nonguided meditations as they find a specific voice or narrations distracting.

Do meditation books teach you how to meditate?

This depends on the book. Some are workbooks designed to give you a step-by-step introduction to meditation. Others may be more about the philosophy behind meditation.

In our roundup, we tried to give you a bit of variety.

How do I get started with meditation?

It’s a good idea to learn a bit about meditation in general before diving in. Most people then like to start with guided meditations before transitioning to semi-guided or nonguided.

Aside from books, here are a few ways to get you started:

If you’re still unsure about where to start, consider reading our in-depth article on meditation for beginners.

Meditation has been shown to offer a range of science-backed benefits. For example, it may help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Though it cannot replace treatment if you have a diagnosis of a mental health condition, meditation may be an effective complementary tool to help you manage symptoms.

If you’re interested in learning more about meditation and how to do it, meditation books can be a great way to get you started.

While some books on our list are step-by-step self-help books and meditation guides, others are more autobiographical and offer readers inspiration to begin their own mindfulness journey, or simply insights into what meditation and mindfulness are.

Also, some books listed focus solely on Buddhist teachings, while others focus on a range of mindfulness practices.