Books That Helped Me Start My Meditation Journey

Books that grounded me and taught me valuable skills in mindfulness and meditation.

Books That Helped Me Start My Meditation Journey
Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Books that grounded me and taught me valuable skills in mindfulness and meditation.

The quest for productivity ruined my mental health

I thought audiobooks were a productivity boost.

The McDonald’s habit (suggested by Ali Abdaal) taught me that whenever I find 7 minutes or more on my hands, I should think of ways I can move ahead in my career.

Meal times were spent listening to podcasts or watching informative videos.

Pre-sleep hours were reserved for reading.

In this hustle to get as productive as possible, I lost touch with myself.

Every free second was spent on the quest for productivity. I set goals, acieved them, ticked off all items on my to-do list, and even then, felt like I wasn’t doing anything meaningful.

In hindsight, I realize I was probably burnt out.

Thankfully, I randomly picked up a book at the airport, The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh that opened my eyes.

I realized if I was trading all my time for productivity, how would I have time for myself. This book put me on a quest to practice mindfulness in my daily life, and has given me so much peace.

Today, I’ve built the habit of spending 10 minutes every day meditating, and I couldn’t have been more thankful.

If you can relate with me and are going through the same, then read these four remarkable books that will get you started on your meditation journey. Reconnecting with the ancient practices of mindfulness can help you embark on a journey of self-discovery, inner tranquility, and spiritual growth.

1. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Image: Goodreads

Sometimes we don’t realize what chronic stress is doing to our bodies until we get a wake-up call. If you’re going through a similar situation and want to change your life for good, then 10% Happier by Dan Harris is a must-read.

10% Happier is a memoir that documents the author’s journey from a perpetually stressed news anchor to a mindful person. After suffering a panic attack on live television, Dan Harris realized he needed to take his mental health seriously. This was a wake-up call for him to explore the power of meditation and mindfulness.

The book is a collection of some groundbreaking discoveries and knowledge about the practice of mindfulness coming from experts, psychologists, and meditation gurus. It emphasizes that meditation doesn’t require adopting any particular belief system or religion; it’s a practical tool for training the mind. It also lists some actionable steps to start small and gradually build a meditation habit. 

Biggest takeaway from this book

When I started my meditation journey I struggled with consistency. 10% Happier became a relatable guide for me to keep going with my practice. I learned that developing a consistent meditation practice is more important than the duration of each session. Even short, regular sessions can yield significant benefits over time. Don’t expect all your negative thoughts and stress to go away immediately. Instead of seeking perfection in meditation, you should first become self-aware and allow yourself to feel every emotion.

My favorite quotes from 10% Happier by Dan Harris

“When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.”
“The pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.”
“Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.”

2. Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg‌

Image: Goodreads

Most people think meditation is all about sitting in one place for hours and give excuses that they don’t have enough time. It’s time to dispel these common myths about meditation. 

You can practice mindfulness in your daily activities like working, walking, and even eating. The secret to achieving it is to be fully present and attentive in all aspects of your life. If you’re serious about embracing mindfulness, then Real Happiness by Sharon Salberg can be a game changer.

The book is divided into a four-week program or a 28-day challenge. Real Happiness makes meditation fun, with each day offering new meditation techniques and insights. You won’t be able to recognize yourself after 28 days of practicing the activities in this book. It will completely rewire your mindset and mental health. The key here is to continue practicing it even after the challenge ends.

The book begins by explaining what meditation is and also touches on scientific research that supports the benefits of meditation, including 

  • stress reduction, 
  • improved focus, and 
  • emotional well-being. 

It teaches the correct way to do breathing exercises that have particularly helped me release stress and stay in the present. These practices have improved my focus and productivity in daily activities.

Biggest takeaway from this book

The most impressive thing about this book is Metta meditation or practicing meditation through kindness and compassion. You can achieve inner peace by being compassionate with yourself and others. 

For those who struggle with maintaining consistency, my advice for you after reading this book would be to start your meditation practice with a group or meditation community. 

My favorite quotes from Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg‌

“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.”
“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.”
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”

3. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

Image: Goodreads

When you realize that the present moment is the only moment that’s real, your anxiety and worry will vanish. This is what mindfulness means according to The Miracle of Mindfulness written by a Zen Buddhist monk. Not everyone can achieve this art of living in the present moment until they master mindfulness.

The book is divided into several chapters, each of which explores different aspects of mindfulness and offers practical advice on how to incorporate mindfulness into daily life. It also introduces the concept of walking meditation, which means walking slowly while focusing on your breathing. Paying attention to your breath makes you aware of your thoughts and body. 

Biggest takeaway from this book

The best thing I learned from this book is to appreciate small pleasures in life such as a warm cup of tea, beautiful scenery, or a good talk with loved ones. 

Mindfulness doesn’t mean emptying the mind, but sitting with our emotions and feeling them without judgment. The Miracle of Mindfulness serves as a guide to living a more mindful and fulfilling life, fostering inner peace, and cultivating compassion for oneself and others.

My favorite quotes from The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.”
“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”
“Those who are without compassion cannot see what is seen with the eyes of compassion.”

4. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Image: Goodreads

If you’re manifesting your dream life, visualization and daydreaming don’t work until you put in the action. Most people are clear about what they want to do but get stuck when it comes to taking a step further and putting in efforts. They aren’t in the present moment but in their heads dreaming about someone else’s reality. This is why practicing mindfulness is important for everyone. 

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches that we don’t need to go to special places or have special experiences to find peace and contentment. Happiness can be found right where we are, in the present moment.

This book is helpful for meditation beginners as well as seasoned practitioners. Divided into short chapters, each explaining different aspects of mindfulness, standing meditation, walking meditation, breathing meditation, and much more. Once you follow through with the book and develop these habits in daily life, stress management will become easier. You’ll become more compassionate not only towards others but yourself too.

Biggest takeaway from this book

I’ve observed that practicing mindfulness has made me connect with myself and improved my relationships. Once your inner turmoil calms, nothing external can affect you after that. Meditation and mindfulness are a lifelong journey and this book has greatly helped me embrace that practice. Wherever You Go, There You Are is a must-read to enhance your overall well-being.

My favorite quotes from Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.”
“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.”

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