Five Brilliant Books About Meditation & Self-Awareness

five books about meditation

As more research has been carried out on mindfulness and meditation and they have grown in popularity as practices, a multitude of books have appeared and been devoured by thousands of readers (including myself).

Of all the books I’ve read about meditation, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence, these are the five that I have enjoyed most, and gained the most insight from. I hope you enjoy them too.

1. Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

I had the pleasure of hearing Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology and Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Berkeley University give a talk about the research he and his colleagues have carried out over the past eight years into what sleep is all about. The costs to society of poor sleep and the effects of night shift work are immense. Most of us are not getting the required sleep to ensure we stay healthy, allowing vital repair at the cellular level to take place. This is not something to read in bed, because it’s so interesting that you won’t sleep!

2. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ – Daniel Goleman

A convincing case is made for the importance of emotional intelligence in nurturing and strengthening all of us, and that excellence in this area can be more important than IQ. Connecting with our emotions and learning to trust them plays a bigger role in our thought processing, decision-making, and individual success than is usually acknowledged. This is something I talk about a lot in MindMojo courses: developing the ability to suspend the ego and intellect in favour of instinct. Learning to know and trust yourself is one of the many benefits of Vedic Meditation, which is borne out in this comprehensive examination of what is going on in the brain.

3. Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently – Beau Lotto

This is another author I have had the privilege of hearing speak. Lotto is a professor of neuroscience at Goldsmiths, University of London and a Visiting Scholar at New York University specialising in the biology, philosophy, and the psychology of perception. This book examines how perception is a reflex, based on the history of what has been seen or perceived before. What you see is determined by your assumptions, and so constrains what you see. Lotto makes the point that most of your life happened and you were not there, because the meaning you attached was framed by your culture and upbringing. By changing your assumptions, you can change your perceptions, and become more creative in your outlook. By changing past meanings, you can change your future, and this begins with awareness and being an observer of yourself. As a long time meditator, I know that this can be achieved through Vedic Meditation.

4. The Science of Meditation – Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson

These longtime friends, Harvard colleagues and meditators write about the misconceptions around mindfulness and meditation. They draw on recent innovative research which shows how meditation can cultivate selflessness, love, compassion, and equanimity as well as rewire our neural circuitry. Their research brings up to date and expands on research carried out in the late 1960s and 70s, and is a fascinating insight into what is actually going on in the brain, mind, and body and how meditation can effect positive and beneficial changes.

5. Science of Being and Art of Living – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Originally published in 1963, with subsequent editions since, this extraordinary book reveals the practical wisdom of integrated life advanced by the Vedic Rishis of ancient India, and the growth of scientific thinking. In the last decade, as research has become increasingly sophisticated, more is understood about the far-reaching and life-changing effects of meditation. Maharishi lays out the Vedic approach to life with a comprehensive analysis of the effects meditation has upon the meditator, ultimately leading to a better understanding of the self and greater fulfilment.

If you're interested in hearing more about Vedic Meditation, how it works, and how it can benefit you, join me at my next free, no obligation introductory talks in London or Brighton. Find all the upcoming dates and book online here.

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Anthony Thompson