Best Meditation Resources

The book club thread has shown me that we have a lot of meditators or fans of meditation, in the community. I’d love to make a list of the best meditation resources/books/etc that people have read. Let’s do it in the spirit of this Less Wrong post about the best textbooks on every subject

Here are the rules :

  1. Post the title of your favorite textbook on a given subject.
  2. You must have read at least two other textbooks on that same subject.
  3. You must briefly name the other books you’ve read on the subject and explain why you think your chosen textbook is superior to them.

Rules #2 and #3 are to protect against recommending a bad book that only seems impressive because it’s the only book you’ve read on the subject.

So please only make recommendations if you’ve spent some serious time with meditation, but feel free to discuss and ask questions if you’re new to it. That being said, I still feel very new myself, but will recommend the most helpful book for me so far.

The Mind Illuminated was/is extremely helpful because it contains great detail about progressing your meditation practice. It feels a bit like moving from meditation as a hobby to having a teacher that gives you more details on challenges that will arise.

The Science of Enlightenment is a great book and greatly added to my general understanding, but I found it to be less instructive than the Mind Illuminated.

The Practicing Mind is more directed at cultivating presence in everything we do. This book comes to mind every time I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough or I’m rushing through something. If that’s the case, my mind is elsewhere and I need to refocus. It’s a great read but nowhere near as comprehensive as the others I’ve mentioned.

Hopefully this is of interest to others. I’m going to tag a couple people that chimed in on the book club thread to see if any of you would like to share. @zedmango, @dehowell, @mattiaslndstrm feel free to chime in with your thoughts if you’d like.


Thank you for starting this thread, @mattellsworth – what a great idea!

For learning to meditate, Mindfulness in Plain English is top notch. It walks through exactly what to do with body and mind and suggests a skill progression as your concentration builds.

The Three Pillars of Zen also provides a skill progression, but it is less focused on instruction. It’s more of an intro to training in the Zen tradition, so those developing a solo practice are better off with Mindfulness in Plain English. It’s worth reading to develop cultural context around meditation – this is the clearest book about Zen Buddhism that I’ve read.

Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha is well written and systematic, but it is intended to cover material that traditionally would be shared directly by a teacher with an advanced student. Probably the best resource on the phenomenology of enlightenment and to really get a handle on the distinction between concentration and insight practice. For the beginner, I think MCTB is probably overwhelming.


See also Slate Star Codex’s review: