The Dalai Lama wants you to read. Try these 5 books.


Years ago I had the good fortune to be present at a talk given by the Dalai Lama.

Towards the end of the talk he was asked a question:

What’s the most important thing you can do to improve your life and make yourself a better person?

I just knew he was going to say, “meditate every day.”

But he didn’t.

Instead, he said, “Read and study.”

He went on to say that reading and learning about the causes and consequences of our behaviors was crucial to the development of wisdom that leads to greater goodness for individuals and our world.

You can use that advice to help you along if you have been struggling to develop a daily practice to support your personal  growth.

I have found that incorporating a little bit of reading and reflection into my daily meditation practice has fueled my motivation to persist over time.

Here’s what I do:

Holly's Treehouse
Holly’s Treehouse
  • Each morning I go outside to my treehouse.
  • In my treehouse I keep a few books, a notebook for recording quotes and interesting ideas, and my meditation cushions.
  • I also have a comfy chair to sit in while I read.
  • Depending on how much time I have, I may read just a few paragraphs or several pages of whatever book I’m working my way through. Sometimes it takes me months to get through a book. If I come across a quote that is meaningful to me, I record it in my journal. Or if my reading generates other thoughts, I record those as well.
  • Then I set my my timer, climb onto my cushions and spend some time in meditation.

This is my favorite time of day. I don’t view it as a chore that I have to do, or yet another task that must be accomplished.

Instead, I see it as my break from all my chores and jobs. It’s nothing but self-reflection and self-care.

Now this doesn’t mean the meditations are always peaceful. Usually they are, but not always. Sometimes I am restless or sleepy or grumpy.

But still, this time feels valuable and fruitful, and I’ve come to understand that any meditation experience is a good one. They all add to my overall growth.

A strategy for sustaining your meditation practice.

So if you are struggling to build your own daily routine, try this.

  1. Find a book about mindfulness that interests you.
  2. Create a comfy place in your home that you look forward to settling into for a short time each day.
  3. Read a page or two.
  4. Then spend a few minutes in meditation and reflection.

We’re now on Instagram and Snapchat! Make sure to connect with us for tips and inspiration!

Some books to get you started

You could start with The Mindful Twenty-Something. If you are new to mindfulness, it’s a pretty good introduction. I worked hard to make it interesting and relevant to folks in their twenties, but I think it works well even if you are older (or younger).
Mindful Twenty Something by Holly Rogers

If you are still a bit skeptical about whether mindfulness practices are a good use of your time, you could read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Dan shares his own journey from stressed-out skeptic to committed mindfulness practitioner.
If you are interested in how meditative practices can be used to promote social justice, you could try Radical Dharma by angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah. It’s filled with inspiration for using meditative practices to support the work of creating a more just society.
Radical Dharma - Talking Race Love and Liberation
The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Peak Performance By George Mumford
Whatever your interest, you can probably find a book on mindfulness or meditation that relates to it. For example, if you are a jock, you can read The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. It will help you think about how your sports performance can be enhanced my mindfulness practice. 
Interested in the neuroscience underlying the benefits of mindfulness practices? Paul Verhaeghen’s Presence is one of the best I’ve read on this topic.
 Presence: How Mindfulness and Meditation Shape Your Brain, Mind, and Life by Paul Verhaeghen

There are lots more great books out there that you might find interesting. So if none of these appeal, google it.

The point is to use a little bit of daily reading to fuel your commitment to your mindfulness practice.

Even a few minutes of reading followed by a few minutes of meditation will lay a great foundation for personal transformation.

Is there a book that has inspired you?

Please share it in the comments below .

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash.



  • Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg was one of my early-read introductions to meditation and mindfulness. Her humor, practicality, and ability to write like she is sitting right next to you talking to you really resonated with me. Recently heard my aunt has been able to reduce her blood pressure from practicing what Sharon offers in her books…amazing. Thank you Holly! We did walking meditation today during lunch break where I work!

    • Hi Jonathan. Totally agree about Salzberg. She is an amazing teacher. Glad to hear you are brining mindfulness to work. Maybe it’s time you became a Koru teacher yourself!

  • thanks for sharing your morning ritual holly. and your tree house it fabulous. it must be magical in all types of weather and through the seasons. your own personal nest!

    a long time companion – “when things fall apart, by pema chodron – has helped me over time move towards the pain/suffering and with a heart that continues to open wider. excellent read.

    • Thanks, Theresa. I do love my treehouse! It’s pretty much the best place ever for meditation practice.

The Mindful Twenty Something by Holly Rogers
“Wise, but not obscure. Practical, but lighthearted and inspiring.”

— MIRABAI BUSH, co-founder and Senior Fellow of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

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