8 Meditation Books I Can't Live Without
There are so many meditation books on the shelves that it can be overwhelming. But based on the love of friends who provided me with some, and my own soul explorations, I’ve come up with a list of my favorites. Whether you take a look at one, three or all, or just think about the meditations I’m giving you from them, I hope they help you find inspiration and peace.
The author blends lessons from his personal growth experience (including recovery from addictions) with quotes from literary heavy-hitters such as Kahlil Gibran, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Merton and Erich Fromm.
Try this: “When I respond to another person with kindness, empathy, or an understanding heart—these are the times when I am most aware of God’s love for me and within me.”
Edited by Josh Bartok
As peaceful and spare as a Zen garden, this collection of brief quotes from the world’s great teachers and leaders challenges you, through meditation, to get out of the Buddhist term called “monkey mind” (where crazy thoughts churn) and just let yourself learn to be.
Try this: “When you see a truck bearing down on you, by all means, jump out of the way. But spend some time in meditation, too. Learning to deal with discomfort is the only way you’ll be ready to handle the truck you didn’t see.”
By Emmet Fox
Out of the blue one day, and just because, my friend Heidi gave me this no-nonsense collection of clear strategies for keeping the mind focused on joy, not on difficulty. I love how Fox connects Jesus’ teachings to a modern understanding of how the brain works. Bonus: At the end, several short, sweet prayers to bust the bluest mood.
Try this: “People who are honestly trying to follow the spiritual life often make the mistake of being too hard on themselves. [But] if you are doing your best to use what Truth you know, at present, you are doing all that you have a right to expect of yourself.”
By Melody Beattie
This is not only a collection of meditations, it’s also a handbook for dealing with all kinds of relationships—everything from how to set and accept boundaries to making self-care a priority. This one is particularly helpful when someone in your life—child, parent, spouse, boss, etc.—is overwhelming you and you’re taking more care of them than yourself.
Try this: “Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to grow, even though the people we love are not ready to change. We don’t need to suffer with them.”
By Eknath Easwaran
Easwaran started out as an English lit professor in India, then came to the U.S. and in 1967 taught the first college course on meditation. His gentle clear style draws on all the major faith traditions—and on his experience being raised by his uneducated but very kind, loving and wise grandmother.
Try this: “Loving someone does not mean automatically acquiescing to their every whim. Sometimes love shows itself in saying no to an attitude or desire that is harmful. But your opposing must be done tenderly, without anger or condescension.”
By Coleman Barks
When nothing else inspires or soothes, I turn to the mystic Rumi, whose words about love and passion and mystery sometimes clarify, sometimes confuse, but always go straight to the soul.
Try this: “Your intelligence is always with you, overseeing your body, even though you may not be aware of its work. If you start doing something against your health, your intelligence will eventually scold you.”
By Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg
Whether you’re a 12-step old-timer, or wondering what’s going on with programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, you’ll enjoy the simple, secular wisdoms in this book. Like AA and its sister programs, it’s spiritual, not religious, and provides a very simple approach to living joyfully and compassionately. I found it so approachable, I gave copies to some very skeptical relatives (and nobody complained!).
Try this: “Being alive is our invitation to act in fresh, inventive ways. All it takes is concentrating on our inner vision in combination with external reality. The components for accomplishing any task are at our fingertips, awaiting discovery.”
By Aaron Zerah
When she left the magazine where we both worked, my friend Gini gave me this collection of truth-nuggets about life—ranging from a few word of poetry to full-page anecdotes from history. The luminaries range from Lao Tzu to Ray Kroc. When my time at the magazine was up, I brought the book home with me!
Try this: “What a wonderful life I’ve had. I only wish I had realized it sooner." –Colette
Gay Norton Edelman is a spiritual life coach in New Jersey. Find more of her writing, including excerpts from her book The Hungry Ghost: How I Ditched 100 Pounds and Came Fully Alive at www.gayedelman.com.