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My interest in meditation began years ago when I was in my late 20s. I was struggling with anxiety and insomnia. I just could not seem to control the endless stream of random thoughts running through my mind. As usual, I turned to bibliotherapy – I sat down with Meditation for Dummies and taught myself how to just sit and observe my mind rather than let it take me on an unwanted wild ride.

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The Dummies series on meditation was a fantastic way to get started learning about mindfulness. For beginners, meditation can seem very intimidating and mysterious. The Dummies book did a great job of laying out the principles in easily digestible chunks and, most importantly, with a humor-infused light-hearted approach. Many meditation books are written in a heavy, serious tone, which can be especially off-putting for a beginner.

Over the years, my practice has grown and developed – I don’t actually sit down and formally meditate anymore. I just incorporate mindfulness into my everyday activities when I can. These three writers have helped me tremendously along the way:

Eckhart Tolle – Tolle experienced a spiritual awakening by way of nervous breakdown. His story is fascinating. His approach to mindfulness is extremely direct, somewhat blunt, and sometimes repetitive but overall extremely effective. His debut book, The Power of Now, lays out the principles of what he learned during his experience. His latest release, A New Earth, was also a bestseller.

What makes Tolle unique: His approach is non-religious and rooted purely in reason. You'll find no mention of God or Buddha in his talks (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Check out his guided meditations and videos, too!

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Thich Nhat Hanh – Hanh is a Buddhist monk with an unpronounceable name and a gentle, generous soul that shines through both in his many books and his guided meditations. His communication style is both immensely powerful and wonderfully poetic. I highly recommend listening to recordings of his beautiful dharma talks. All of his works are balms for the soul.

What makes Hanh unique: Hanh is a Buddhist monk, but his style of communication is refreshingly down-to-earth and relatable. He truly puts Buddhist principles to work in his daily life and strives to teach others to do the same. He was very supportive of the civil rights movement in the US and he met with Martin Luther King, Jr

 

Like Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodron (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) decided to devote her life to the practice and teaching of mindfulness after a period of upheaval and pain in her personal life. She's a spiritual pioneer--she was the first American to become an ordained Buddhist nun. 

What makes Chodron unique: Because she spent the first half of her life firmly rooted in the secular world as a wife, working woman and mother, her approach is also very down-to-earth. She writes a lot about upheaval, chaos, and times of challenge. I pick up one of her many books if I'm going through a scary or difficult time in my life. 

Check out the film, Blessings, on Kanopy if you're interested in the lives of Buddhist nuns.

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There are many other influential writers in this area, including Gary Zukav, Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat Zinn, just to name a few of my favorites. If you’re interested in meditation, get started with a very simple, short practice and find a teacher who resonates with you. I prefer to learn with a book, but there are many other ways to learn and practice, including virtual classes offered through the Harris County Public Library!

Comment below and share your personal favorite meditation book or teacher! Happy breathing. :)

 

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