Tell me your favorite books on meditation!
December 4, 2009 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for books about meditation?

I'm looking for good books about meditation to give to a family member. He's in his 60s and is beginning to be interested in/curious about meditation. I think he'd be less interested in books with a heavy spiritual or historical slant, and more interested in books that deal with the practical benefits (especially the mental and physical health benefits). He's not opposed to the spiritual stuff, but if I go out and get him a classic Buddhist text from the 12th century, I don't think he'll stick with it. At the same time, I don't want to just go with "Meditation for Dummies" and call it a day.

Something about how meditation intersects with Western scientific understanding of the mind and body might be a good choice. I think he'd like a book/books that provided some practical "how-to" advice as well as some inspiring information about what meditation can be all about.

Thanks for your advice!
posted by aka burlap to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
There were a bunch of really great suggestions in this thread.
posted by Kimberly at 8:53 AM on December 4, 2009

I don't believe that Sekida's Zen Training was mentioned in the thread Kimberly linked. It's a good book. The first part of the book is a treatment of the (physical and mental) mechanics of meditation. There's some devotional/traditional material which appears to be pretty good later in the book, but I've always ignored it.
posted by jingzuo at 9:20 AM on December 4, 2009

The book Mindfulness In Plain English is a very good place to start.
posted by chicainthecity at 9:50 AM on December 4, 2009

Something about how meditation intersects with Western scientific understanding of the mind and body might be a good choice.

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves

Also, check out the work of Richard Davidson.
posted by Otis at 9:52 AM on December 4, 2009

Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention. A careful translation of traditional Tibetan meditation with an eye to compatibility with a modern Western world view. Lots of stuff on the mental benefits.

As a beginner, Zen Training confused me. I think the "bamboo breathing" he recommends is potentially harmful, and it's irrelevant to the purpose of meditation. Maybe it wouldn't have if I'd had a teacher.
posted by Coventry at 9:53 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I second Mindfulness in Plain English.
posted by Coventry at 9:53 AM on December 4, 2009

These have been mentioned before, but here are my favorites:

Wherever You Go, There You Are - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation for Beginners (audio version especially) - Jack Kornfield

Kornfield was the one who first made meditation accessible and understandable for me. He has a real gift for presenting the ideas and practices in a way that's easy for a Western mind - well, my Western mind anyway - to grasp.
posted by semblance at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2009

Another hearty recommendation for Jon Kabat-Zinn, specifically "Wherever you go, there you are."
posted by jbickers at 10:32 AM on December 4, 2009

Any of Pema Chodron's books would be good. Her approach is very practical. I especially liked "Start Where You Are."
posted by cross_impact at 10:32 AM on December 4, 2009

Change Your Mind, by Paramananda, is eminently practical and offers straightforward instruction.
posted by liketitanic at 11:10 AM on December 4, 2009

How to Meditate, by Lawrence LeShan, would be worth checking out. He has a very rational, no nonsense view of the discipline.
posted by Bron at 4:23 PM on December 4, 2009

Oh, what great suggestions. Thanks, everybody!
posted by aka burlap at 9:33 AM on December 5, 2009

Nothing Happens Next: Responses to Questions about Meditation by American Zen teacher Cheri Huber is very no-nonsense.
posted by Lexica at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2009

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