5 Best Zen Books

Practicing Zen is something you might already do without even knowing Zen is where it comes from. Practicing mindfulness, for example, comes from the ideas that drive Zen thinking. You can learn more about Zen and how you can apply it to your life by checking out the books below.

1. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh

You worry too much, and you know it. We all do. The reason we tend to deal with so much anxiety and anticipation is that we are not typically taught how to live in the present moment. We are too worried about the past, or how things we have done before might negatively influence the things that have not even happened yet. When you stop worrying about the past and the future, the present gets much easier to endure – and it becomes a much more pleasant place to live in, as well.

This book, based on a renowned retreat provided by the book’s author, focuses on mindfulness – or rather, teaching you, the reader, how to practice mindfulness in your everyday life. Mindfulness can be practiced no matter how busy, distracted and unwilling you think you are. A few simple breathing techniques are not the only things you will learn, but they will help you begin to build a foundation for a mindful, living in the moment kind of lifestyle. All you need to do is learn to embrace the present and focus on what you need to do right here, right now. This book will teach you everything you need to know.

2. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety by Alan W. Watts

A common theme throughout Zen and other similar Eastern teachings is the idea that now is the most important thing. Not yesterday; not tomorrow; now. Mindfulness, one of Zen’s most important and significant themes, is all about existing in the present and not letting anything get in your way of living in the moment.

Alan Watts’s The Wisdom of Insecurity goes off these same ideas to teach you, as you move through a world that knows less and less about peace as time goes on, how to keep your mind in the present and your body at ease. No more anxiety. No more dodging the things you would much rather avoid. Stick to the present, and you will lead a much happier and more fulfilling life.

3. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Though it may not seem like it from the outside looking in, Zen is not nearly as complicated as it seems. You are just probably over thinking it and looking too closely at the details. You need to look at the big picture in order to understand it all, and in order to do that, you need to start from the very beginning.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is the most recommended book for readers who know next to nothing about Zen, but desperately want to be taught – on their own time, in their own spaces. In this book you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about Zen, and so much more. You will learn the posture, the breathing and all the necessary techniques – and how to use them properly – in order to apply the most basic and valuable Zen principles to your life as soon as possible.

4. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life Thich Nhat Hanh

Whether you know it or not, there are small moments in your everyday life that are meant to make you feel calm and to give you a moment of rest and time to think. However, we do not always take the necessary opportunities to notice these moments – and therefore they slip by virtually unnoticed. Think about how you initially feel when you realize you have just gotten into a supermarket line that is longer than you have time for. You have no choice but to stand and wait, and to you, in the moment, this might seem like the end of the world. It is books like these that will teach you quite the opposite – that moments like these, when you are forced to stand still, are a gift, not at all a curse.

Unlike some of his other best renowned Zen based books, Peace Is Every Step includes both meditations and personal stories to help all readers come to terms with who they are and how they can find peace even when the world around them seems to be anything but peaceful. Finding inner peace is not always about stopping to take in the moment, though that is an important part of it. Even more important is putting in the extra effort and focus to notice the little things you encounter every day that can serve as a reminder that you can be at peace, if you are willing to try.

5. No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh

Everyone encounters very tough moments in their lives. It can be extremely difficult to learn how to deal with the emotions we come to associate with any kind of suffering, whether it be loss or illness or unhappiness. Many of us never learn how to cope, which is why our first instinct when hard times hit is to either run away from our problems or distract ourselves from them. If this is you, then it is time you learn to embrace all kinds of suffering, instead of trying to escape it.

The author will teach you a variety of Zen based techniques to help you deal with the bad things that happen to you in your life. Practice deep breathing and concentration to sort through the various problems you encounter in your mind and use mindfulness as a tool to help you cope with negative energy and feelings you are having a difficult time processing. You will feel much better, and you will no longer ever feel the need to run away from the obstacles that you encounter in your life.