Here is my [Cynthia Alves] list of recommendations for learning and supporting relaxation and meditation. I have gained a lot of help from other teachers and so it is also in gratitude that I pass the details of their work on to you.
Beginners [B] in my list below marks those I reckon are especially helpful for beginners (also supportive for the experienced). However, because a good teacher will be giving much more than information and guidance, I do strongly suggest in-person training, at least for beginners. Further, the group dynamic adds a lot to a meditation session, so do try local adult learning classes if they appeal to you. If they aren't available ask for them.
WHERE TO BUY mail order Besides the obvious online trade sites, for UK and the rest of Europe, I wholeheartedly recommend:
Cygnus Book Club A small and happy ethical company, no-pressure service and an inspiring & informative monthly Review with articles. They stock of hundreds of books on health / healing, environmental, and spiritual subjects, ship to Europe and USA, and are very well worth supporting. I haven't listed all the relevant materials they have in stock at any time, so do enquire directly.
The Tao of Books Bargain books, relevant subjects. Especially leaning toward Buddhist and Taoist related supplies. Another good service worth supporting.
RE LINKS: Where the book list authors / teachers have their own web site I have marked [WS], rather than put in loads of links here I'd have to keep checking and updating. So, you can go to my Links Round-up page, or Google their name. If they also offer guided meditations and teaching online, I have included the link to their site in the Online section below.
Seven Masters, One Path [B] John Selby [WS]. The most excellent practical handbook I have ever found to help understand and learn meditation as a way of life and healing. He presents in a very simple and readable way the core teachings of the worlds great spiritual teachers of the past centuries, simply, step by step, in a way that helps us to learn and apply their wisdom.
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle. [WS] The title says it all. I also gained a giant leap forward from reading his "A New Earth". If you ever have a chance to participate in his live presentations, run-don't-walk!
The Fine Arts of Relaxation Contemplation & Meditation Ancient Skills for Modern Minds, Joel Levy [WS]. Deserves to be the classic it has become. A wide spectrum of practices, and helps us to understand the part they play in our development.
The TM Technique, Peter Russell [WS] (see also below re his web site) A classic that, although focused on Transcendental Meditation, continues to be among the most clear and inspiring works about meditation generally. It discusses how meditation works, producing a state of profound rest (exactly the opposite to the accumulation of stress and tension), clarity of mind and creativity; and looks at higher states of consciousness to which meditation can lead, as well as considering the implication for society as a whole. I also suggest his "The Global Brain, The Awakening Earth" for a wider view of why meditation may prove to be utterly vital to our and Earth's survival. Exaggeration? Nope. His other books are relevant too, including "From Science to God" and "Waking Up in Time".
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, [B] Jack Kornfield A great handbook from another one of the leaders in the teaching field (a master teacher of other teachers too) with inspiring readings, and powerful meditations. One among many excellent Kornfield books.
Feeling Safe, [B] William Bloom. [WS] An excellent practical handbook. His other works are 5 star too, and most of them also relevant to meditation, including 'Psychic Protection', 'SOULution, The Holistic Manifesto, How Today's Spirituality Changes Everything", "Working With Angels", "The Endorphin Effect". A first class teacher, if you have a chance to join any of his courses.
Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman. [WS] Just as Dr. Bach knew that true healing comes from developing virtues and flooding the person with light, so at last modern psychology research recognizes that same. Go to his 'quiz', following the link form the homepage, www.authentichapiness.com for discovering your signature strengths. This work helps us discover AND APPLY our individual strengths and virtues. (I used to be a bit ashamed about my verging-on-fanatic impulses to keep on learning. So its been a relief and freedom to see it as a genuine and helpful strength! Ditto my love of beauty.)
The Meditation Doctor, Martina Glasscock Barnes, [WS] Relaxation / meditation basics, plus a wide range self-help therapy for specific helps (e.g. for symptom 'fatigue & lethargy' are a simple Reiki self-healing exercise, a visualization exercise, and a colour technique and all cross-referenced!) A superb health handbook from a very experienced practitioner.
Creating Miracles, Dr. Carolyn Miller. The phenomenon described and explored, sensibly and coherently, as a scientific enquiry. Includes many touching anecdotes, and is among the best DIY manuals. I know no more convincing material on the importance of cultivating relaxation and meditation so that they become second nature, put into practice automatically at the toughest moments.
STOP PRESS! As I'm in the final stages of preparing this site for its first launch, the new Cygnus Review has arrived, and includes a book I know I am going to appreciate
The Meditation Pack, Eddie & Debbie Shapiro. Includes a small yet surprisingly comprehensive book of meditation practices, a CD of two guided meditations (heart, and breath awareness), and a really really really beautiful pack of inspiration focus cards. They have published a wealth of other material.
Eckhart Tolle He has a lot of audio material available, worth considering; and the innovative online study classes with Oprah Winfrey (www.oprah.com for details).
Barefoot Doctor British teacher and health practitioner extraordinaire (much material also in German). Makes connections with and for younger people better than most other teachers I know. His site includes a feast of meditations (samples, downloads, CD's), and access to his health care service.
John Selby offers online courses and meditation*. "Seven Masters One Path" is the one book among his several that I know. (*You'll need to be comfortable with his strong USA accent. He also offers online courses.
Peter Russell An award winning web site well worth a long visit. A teacher of meditation and relaxation for over forty years, he played a major role in bringing TM to Britain, and available to university students including me! On his site you can find all sorts of goodies including meditations, a brilliant 'mindful reminders' connection, and a host of stimulating articles. A master teacher and top international speaker, among Peter's great strengths is expressing complicated ideas and information (including physics stuff) into understandable, even entertaining and gripping reading.
Compiled 2004 by Cynthia Alves, updated 2008