The 5 Best Meditation Books for Beginners

Embarking on a journey into meditation can be an enriching and transformative experience.

However, for beginners, it can also be a bit daunting.

With countless techniques, philosophies, and practices, where do you even begin? That’s where this guide comes in.

I’ve curated a list of the five best meditation books for beginners.

These books offer clear, insightful, and practical guidance to help you start your meditation journey on the right foot.

The Best Meditation Books for Beginners

1. Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield

Quote From the Book

“In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived, How well we have loved, How well we have learned to let go.”

Book Summary and Key Points

“Meditation for Beginners” is a practical and easy-to-understand guide that introduces readers to the art of meditation.

The book is designed to help beginners understand the essence of meditation and how it can be incorporated into daily life.

Kornfield, a renowned meditation teacher, explains the process of meditation, starting from the basics of posture and breathing, to more advanced techniques like mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation.

The book also includes a CD with six guided meditations, making it a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to start their meditation journey.

Personal Review and Takeaways:

As a beginner to meditation, I found this book to be incredibly helpful. Kornfield’s writing is clear and concise, making the concepts easy to understand.

The guided meditations on the CD were a great addition, providing practical examples of the techniques discussed in the book.

One of the key takeaways for me was the emphasis on mindfulness and being present in the moment.

This book has not only introduced me to meditation but has also encouraged me to incorporate mindfulness into my daily life.

Who This Book Is For

“Meditation for Beginners” is perfect for anyone looking to start their meditation journey.

Whether you’re completely new to the concept or have tried meditation before and struggled, this book provides clear guidance and practical techniques.

It’s also a great resource for those interested in mindfulness and living a more present and conscious life.

Pros and Cons:


  • Easy to understand, making it perfect for beginners.
  • Includes a CD with guided meditations.
  • Covers a range of meditation techniques.
  • Encourages mindfulness and presence in daily life.


  • May be too basic for those already familiar with meditation.
  • Some readers might prefer more depth on certain topics.

2. Practical Meditation for Beginners by Benjamin W. Decker

Quote From the Book

“The key to building a solid meditation practice is in the practice itself.”

Book Summary and Key Points

“Practical Meditation for Beginners” by Benjamin W. Decker is a step-by-step guide that introduces readers to the world of meditation.

The book is structured as a 10-day program, with each day focusing on a different meditation technique.

These techniques range from mindfulness and mantra meditation to walking meditation and body scan practices.

Decker’s approach is practical and accessible, making it easy for beginners to understand and apply the techniques.

Each chapter provides clear instructions, tips for deepening the practice, and space for journaling about the experience.

The book emphasizes the importance of consistent practice and personal exploration in building a solid meditation practice.

Personal Review and Takeaways

As a beginner to meditation, I found this book to be an excellent resource.

The variety of techniques introduced allowed me to explore different aspects of meditation and find the practices that resonated most with me.

The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow, and the tips for deepening the practice were very helpful.

The journaling prompts also encouraged reflection and helped me understand my personal meditation experience better.

Who This Book Is For

“Practical Meditation for Beginners” is ideal for anyone interested in starting a meditation practice.

Its practical, step-by-step approach makes it accessible to beginners, while the variety of techniques introduced provides a comprehensive overview of meditation practices.

Whether you’re completely new to meditation or have some experience but want to explore different techniques, this book is a valuable guide.

Pros and Cons:


  • Provides a variety of meditation techniques.
  • Clear, step-by-step instructions make it easy for beginners.
  • Includes tips for deepening the practice.
  • Encourages personal exploration and reflection.


  • May be too basic for experienced meditators.
  • The 10-day structure may not suit everyone’s schedule or pace.
  • Some readers may prefer more background information on the philosophy or science of meditation.

3. Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana

Quote From the Book

“Mindfulness gives you time. Time gives you choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. You don’t have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.”

Book Summary

“Mindfulness in Plain English” by Henepola Gunaratana is a comprehensive guide to mindfulness and meditation.

It provides a clear and straightforward introduction to the practice of mindfulness, a technique that helps reconcile feelings of dissatisfaction by probing beneath the surface of our emotions.

The book emphasizes that true happiness comes from within, not from material possessions or external circumstances.

The author, Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned teacher and lecturer, focuses on how mindfulness and meditation can lead to inner peace and kindness towards others.

He explains that mindfulness allows us to predict our behavior and emotions, enabling us to deal with them more effectively.

The book also offers practical advice on how to practice mindfulness meditation, from finding a comfortable position to focusing on breathing and dealing with wandering thoughts.

Personal Review and Takeaways

  1. Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination: The book emphasizes that mindfulness is a continuous process of self-awareness and self-improvement. It’s not about achieving a specific goal or state but about cultivating a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s emotions.
  2. The power of now: The book highlights the importance of living in the present moment. By focusing on the here and now, we can appreciate life more fully and find true happiness within ourselves.
  3. Kindness and compassion are key: The practice of mindfulness also involves cultivating kindness and compassion, not just towards others, but also towards oneself. This can lead to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

Who This Book Is For

“Mindfulness in Plain English” is for anyone interested in exploring mindfulness and meditation, regardless of their previous experience or knowledge. It’s particularly beneficial for those seeking to find inner peace, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of their emotions. It’s also a great read for those who feel constantly dissatisfied and are looking for ways to find happiness within themselves.

Pros and Cons


  • Provides a clear and straightforward introduction to mindfulness and meditation.
  • Offers practical advice and tips on how to practice mindfulness.
  • Emphasizes the importance of kindness and compassion.
  • Encourages readers to find happiness within themselves, rather than in external circumstances.


  • Some readers may find the concepts difficult to grasp at first.
  • The practice of mindfulness requires patience and discipline, which some may find challenging.
  • Some may feel the book is repetitive in certain sections.

4. The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates, Ph.D.)

Quote from the Book

“The mind is like water. When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear.”

Book Summary

The Mind Illuminated is a comprehensive, accessible guide to Buddhist meditation, written by Culadasa (John Yates, Ph.D.), a neuroscientist turned meditation master.

The book is a unique amalgamation of the ancient wisdom of Buddhist philosophy and the more recent insights of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

It provides a step-by-step roadmap to progress from the earliest stages of meditation practice to the achievement of profound awakening.

The book is structured around ten stages of meditation, each stage building upon the skills developed in the previous one.

The stages begin with establishing a consistent daily practice and progress through developing stable attention, overcoming distractions, and cultivating mindfulness, to the higher stages of insight and awakening.

Each stage is accompanied by specific practices, challenges to expect, and tips to overcome them.

Culadasa introduces two models of consciousness and attention.

The first model distinguishes between attention, which is the focus on something that dominates our conscious experience, and peripheral awareness, which is a general awareness of the background.

The second model presents consciousness as a stream of discrete moments, each moment containing either attention or awareness.

Personal Review and Takeaways

This is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in meditation, regardless of their level of experience.

It offers clear, practical guidance, making the often elusive practice of meditation accessible and understandable.

The book’s strength lies in its ability to demystify the abstract concepts of mindfulness and meditation, grounding them in both scientific understanding and practical application.

The book also emphasizes the importance of understanding and working with our own minds.

It teaches us to observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment or identification, allowing us to gain insight into our habitual patterns and ultimately, to transform them.

Who This Book Is For

For anyone interested in meditation, mindfulness, and personal growth.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for clear guidance, or an experienced practitioner seeking to deepen your practice, this book has something to offer.

It’s also a great read for those interested in the intersection of science and spirituality, as it bridges these two worlds in a unique and insightful way.

Pros and Cons


  • Comprehensive and detailed guide to meditation.
  • Combines ancient wisdom with modern science.
  • Provides practical exercises and clear instructions.
  • Addresses common challenges and offers solutions.
  • Suitable for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.


  • Some readers might find the book too detailed or technical.
  • The progression through the stages might not align with everyone’s personal experience.
  • The book requires active engagement and practice to reap its benefits. It’s not a casual read.
  • Some concepts might require re-reading to fully grasp.

5. How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön

Quote From the Book

“This is a standard meditation instruction that you can embody in the entirety of your life: do not act out and do not repress. See what happens if you don’t do either of those things.”

Summary and Key Points

How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön is a comprehensive guide to meditation that explores the essentials for an evolving practice that helps you live in a wholehearted way.

The book covers the basics of meditation, from getting settled and the six points of posture to working with your breath and cultivating an attitude of unconditional friendliness.

It introduces the concept of the ‘Seven Delights’, which are moments of difficulty that can become doorways to awakening and love.

The book also discusses Shamatha (or calm abiding), the art of stabilizing the mind to remain present with whatever arises.

Chödrön presents thoughts and emotions as “sheer delight” instead of obstacles in meditation.

Personal Review and Takeaways

Pema Chödrön’s approach to meditation is gentle, straightforward, and deeply insightful.

Her teachings are rooted in the idea that meditation is not about eliminating thoughts or emotions, but rather about embracing them as part of the human experience.

The concept of the ‘Seven Delights’ was particularly enlightening, offering a fresh perspective on how to approach difficulties in life.

The book is well-structured and easy to follow, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and experienced meditators.

Who This Book Is For

This book is ideal for anyone interested in meditation, regardless of their level of experience.

It’s particularly beneficial for those who are looking for a compassionate and understanding approach to meditation, and who want to learn how to embrace their thoughts and emotions rather than trying to eliminate them.

It’s also a great resource for those who are interested in Buddhist teachings.

Pros and Cons


  • Comprehensive guide covering the basics and more advanced concepts of meditation
  • Gentle and compassionate approach to meditation
  • Offers practical advice and exercises
  • Written by a highly respected teacher in the field


  • Some concepts may be difficult to grasp for absolute beginners
  • The book’s approach may not resonate with those looking for a more scientific or secular approach to meditation.


Meditation is a journey of self-discovery and inner peace.

It’s a practice that requires patience, consistency, and openness.

The books we’ve listed in this article provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to start this journey.

They offer practical advice, deep insights, and easy-to-follow instructions that make meditation accessible to everyone.

Remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to meditate.

It’s all about finding what works best for you.

So, pick up one of these books, find a quiet spot, and begin your journey into the world of meditation.

Happy meditating!