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8 Best Meditation Books of 2021

Whether it’s celebrities talking about their practice or your best friend touting it, many people are turning to meditation to reduce stress, calm the mind, and cultivate a sense of calm in a chaotic world.

There are different types of meditation, but whatever form you choose, the benefits abound. Some benefits of meditation include:

  • lengthened attention span
  • reduced age-related memory loss

A 2019 study showed that participants who meditated for 15 minutes were less stressed than those who went on one day of vacation.

Meditation has also been proven to help ease the anxieties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown that change is the only constant,” said a 2020 study. “Meditation and mindfulness can offer a helpful way to live with this constant change.”

If you’re new to meditation or curious about it, picking up a book is a great starting point. There’s a wide breadth of knowledge that falls under meditation, and books are a practical way to explore and better understand the practice.

Reader reviews were used in choosing the following books. If an expert is regarded in the field, that was taken into consideration.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$15
  • $$$ = over $15

Best for beginners

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

This bestseller has several accolades, including “best book of 2020” mentions by NPR and The Washington Post. It also has tens of thousands of positive reviews online.

Reviewers like the book’s fast and fun pace. Others point out that it reads like a novel. While this book isn’t strictly about meditation, it explores the importance of our breath and lung capacity, and it gives the reader different breathing exercises to try.

This book is for those curious about breathing and its impact on the body, both mentally and physically.

An Amazon review:

“The ideas presented in this book make so much sense that I often found myself wondering, ‘Why didn’t I think about that?’ We are constantly breathing, and we can control how we do it. How can it not affect our health? [The author] does a great job [at] combining the latest scientific evidence with the knowledge earlier cultures understood about breathing and put it into practice in their own lives. The result is a compelling argument that breathing is something we have overlooked for too long and need to pay more attention to.”

Best for those who already practice meditation

Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking

Many people turn to meditation to help calm their minds. Modern-day life leaves so many people stressed, isolated, and feeling a sense of no control. This book addresses this fact and gives readers helpful tools to rid themselves of, or at least cope with, internal chaos.

The book gives readers advice on how to reframe negative thoughts, strategies to improve bad relationships, advice on identifying values of personal importance, and information on meditation practice and breathing.

“Declutter Your Mind” has thousands of reviews online, with the majority being 4 or 5-stars.

A Goodreads review:

“I have been a victim of ‘monkey mind’ for as long as I can remember. Years ago, when I tried to get a better handle on the events that were controlling my life, I focused on the external forces that I was sure had everything to do with my success [and failure] in life… ‘Declutter Your Mind’ is a powerful book on gaining total control of your mind [and] environment, and shaping the future as you want it to be — not just relying on life to happen as it should.”

Best for transcendental meditation

Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation

If you’re not familiar with transcendental meditation (TM), it’s a practice that requires quiet and stillness for 20 minutes, twice per day, while a mantra is recited.

The technique was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi over 50 years ago and has touched the lives of more than 6 million people globally. It can only be taught by certified TM teachers in a course carefully personalized for each individual.

The author of this book, Bob Roth, is a transcendental meditation teacher and bestselling author. He’s also the CEO of The David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that addresses the trauma and toxic stress among at-risk populations through the implementation of transcendental meditation.

This book is more of an introductory text if you’re seeking to understand the technique.

Best for guided meditations

Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life

This is a book you can keep at the ready on your bedside table or coffee table in case you have some spare moments for a guided meditation. There are 52 guided practices in the book in a range of topics, from being a people pleaser to making health a priority.

One reviewer says this book is excellent for people who need structural help with their practice.

The author, Agapi Stassinopoulos, is a bestselling author with a master’s degree in psychology. She’s also the sister of Arianna Huffington and provides workshops at Thrive Global.

An Amazon review:

“I appreciate the eloquence, the simplicity in much of what could be complicated, and the reliability of her techniques, proses, and mediations. This book will remain on my bedside table for a long time as I know that I can turn to it again and again to remind me of the joy of who I am in this world.”

Best for Zen and Buddhist meditation

The Three Pillars of Zen

Zen meditation has roots in Buddhist philosophy. Known as Zazen, the technique is all about focusing inward, sometimes focusing on the breath, and other times clearing the mind of any thoughts. Practitioners often sit in the lotus position while meditating.

This book is written by Roshi Philip Kapleau, the founder of the Rochester Zen Center (one of the oldest and most influential American institutions in its specialty).

The book gives an overview of the three pillars of Zen: teaching, practicing, and enlightenment. This book was originally published in 1989, but an updated version came out in 2013.

“If you fall into poverty, live that way without grumbling — then, your poverty will not burden you,” Kapleau wrote in the book. “Likewise, if you are rich, live with your riches. All this is the functioning of Buddha-nature. In short, Buddha-nature has the quality of infinite adaptability.”

An Amazon review:

“The meaning of Buddha’s enlightenment became so much clearer through well-written explanations… If you’re interested in Buddhism and Zen, buy this book.”

Best for meditation through coloring

The Art of Mandala

Mandalas are geometric configurations of shapes meant to signify a spiritual journey and recommended to help you relax. This book has 50 unique mandalas for any skill level.

You’ve likely heard about the benefits of coloring, or “adult coloring,” as it’s sometimes called. Truth is: Coloring has a calming effect at any age.

Research from 2018 reported that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) showed reduced anxiety after coloring mandalas compared with free-drawing.

The mandala designs get more complex as you complete the book. Colored pencils are suggested for best results.

On Amazon, the book has more than 5,000 ratings and most are 5-stars. Some reviewers, though, comment on the paper quality, saying it’s too thin.

An Amazon review:

“At last, a decent enough mandala coloring book, compact but with many excellent pictures to color in. I am constantly looking for more complicated ones to do, and this book has quite a good selection.”

Best book for wisdom

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

This bestseller features two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate Dalai Lama’s eightieth birthday.

Looking back on their long lives, the two recounted what they saw relevant to a central question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering? The result is this book.

Readers get a window into these two’s debate about the nature of true joy. They talk fear, stress, anger, grief, illness, and death. They include personal stories throughout the book, offer wisdom, and share their beliefs on science.

A Goodreads review:

“I am not a practicing Buddhist or Christian, but I found great comfort and inspiration in this book. There are several helpful meditation practices included at the end. I would highly recommend ‘The Book of Joy’ to anyone seeking more happiness and peace in a troubled world.”

Best for kids

This Moment Is Your Life (and So Is This One): A Fun and Easy Guide to Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga

It’s never too early to teach kids tools for managing stress and anxiety. This guidebook is packed with simple exercises in full-color artwork to give kids an introduction to meditation and mindfulness.

There are chapters on meditation, yoga, and mindful breathing, along with the benefits of these practices. The book includes quick exercises and a tool kit at the end of each chapter. The book is best for ages 10+.

The book’s author, Mariam Gates, has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and has been teaching children for over 20 years. She’s the founder of Kid Power Yoga, and she trains children and adults in yoga and mindfulness.

An Amazon review:

“This book gives practical tools to motivate the novice and experienced individual. It leaves you begging for more. The illustrations are enticing, and it’s fun reading it. It simplifies mindfulness, meditation, and yoga with concrete examples and tools.”