Reading List: A Beginner's Guide to Zen
3 simple and easy-to-read books that I found helpful when starting my spiritual journey into Zen Buddhism and mindfulness meditation
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Something started to change around my 30th birthday. Until then, I’d lived rather hedonistically – pursuing mostly money, recognition and pleasant experiences. But I was unhealthy and unhappy, and I knew I needed something else in my life.
I got introduced to Buddhist meditation and psychology through a course called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It’s an eight week program including cues from Zen Buddhism, Vipassana, Yoga, Tai Chi and non-violent communication, ending with a silent day of group meditation. That course led me to getting involved with Vipassana, which is a form of mindfulness meditation, and then switching to Zen, attending courses, lectures and at least one retreat per year. As I write this, I’ve been a practicing Zen student for eight years.
Below you will find my three recommendations for books on Zen and meditation for absolute beginners. Still, I need to preface this by saying that reading alone will not lead you to a more mindful life. Buddhist meditation is an experience-based practice, and that means you need to spend time actually meditating, rather than reading about it. The Zen sages put it like this: A book can be the finger pointing at the moon, but never the moon itself.
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