These Contemporary Books About Buddhism Are a More Approachable Way to Reach Mindfulness

man meditation outside
Courtesy of Shutterstock/Olha Yefimova

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* Modern literature to help you reach mindfulness
* From the literary voices of Alan Watts and Chris Prentiss
* Buddhist guides and prose to inspire your personal awakening

Mindfulness is a term that is loosely thrown around these days. But it’s popularity is for good reason as mindfulness is a word with great depth, inspiring a practice about being more deeply in touch with your spiritual self so you can operate from a place of truth and intention. But not everybody resonates with more traditional spiritual writing, so, we gathered four modern books that show the contemporary reader how powerful mindfulness can be, all written from Zen and Buddhist practitioners who have lived out this lifestyle first-hand and want to share their transformations with a wide audience. There are many meditation books out there and tools to deepen your practice, and we recommend adding these particular voices into your collection in order to find your own personal process.

For those looking to indulge in a book that has a strong takeaway for reaching a higher awakening in this chaotic, modern world, these books may be a powerful place to start.

1. Chris Prentiss: “Zen and the Art of Happiness”

Published in 2006, “Zen and the Art of Happiness” is a modern take on the centuries-old practice that Prentiss studies and writes about. Chinese philosophy and personal growth are his foundation in which he wrote this book on, in the hopes to inspire readers to take control of their truest desires and become effective creators in their lives. The ideas are fairly simple and he promotes his spiritual beliefs in a very digestible manner, offering input about feeling and thinking more positively so that patterns will develop to bring more positivity into your life. It is an excellent read for someone who doesn’t have the interest in sifting through spiritual jargon and instead wants a direct approach to shifting their outlook.

Zen and the art of happiness book Courtesy of Amazon


2. Noah Levine: “Against the Stream”

In Noah Levine’s spiritual guide to modern day enlightenment, he uses his torrid youth that was spent dealing with drug abuse and alcohol consumption by providing his readers with the truth that you can grow from trauma. If you commit to his journey alongside him through Buddhism and meditation, he promises that transformation of the mind and body is possible. Levine is currently running a rehabilitation center in Los Angeles and does weekly meditation sits and discussions for the public, in the hopes that he can share the grounding practice of mindfulness with the community. This book is a reminder that many people may feel stuck and trapped in their addiction but there are strategies and practices that can offer life-changing results. The very first step is to sit and breathe.

Against the stream book Courtesy of Amazon

3. Alan Watts: “The Way of Zen”

From the godfather of Zen himself, Alan Watts takes readers through a literary guide that outlines the practice of Buddhism and Taoism. These popular spiritual ways of thinking become much more approachable because of the way Watts narrates and cuts through to the main takeaways. Renowned author, Joseph Campbell, describes the book by saying, “no one has given such a concise…introduction to the whole history of this Far Eastern development of Buddhist thought as Alan Watts.” The mystique of Zen can run deep, but this book is one of the best ways to satiate your curiosity of the subject. “The Way of Zen” is where the awakening awaits.

 Alan Watts: "The Way of Zen"  Courtesy of Amazon

4. Peter Matthiessen: “The Snow Leopard”

When Peter Matthiessen ventured into the mountains of Nepal in 1973, he planned to study the local wildlife while letting a journey of physical and mental transformation become. As a student of Zen Buddhism, he writes with a great understanding of the practice while bringing his readers on a magnificent trek through the hills to find the great Lama of Shey. The book traces Matthiessen’s prose about the beauty of the natural world while cutting through to the human experience that offers lessons of trust and personal growth. He is a National Book Award-winning author and a reputable voice in the literary world who has offered his take on the age-old practice of Buddhism that takes mental discipline to new heights when practiced with forgiveness and patience for oneself, first and foremost.

Peter Matthiessen: "The Snow Leopard"  Courtesy of Amazon

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