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Mindfulness in Plain English Paperback – Special Edition, September 6, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"A masterpiece." (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
"A classic--one of the very best English sources for authoritative explanations of mindfulness." (Daniel Goleman)
"Of great value to newcomers... especially people without access to a teacher." (Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath)
"This book is the bible of mindfulness." (Barry Boyce, editor of Mindful magazine and The Mindfulness Revolution)
"Wonderfully clear and straightforward." (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace)
"Pithy and practical." (Shambhala Sun)
"Jargon-free." (USA Today)
"Among the very best." (Tricycle)
"A classic." (Inquiring Mind)
"Profound...a classic interpretation of Vipassana meditation practice." (The Middle Way)
About the Author
Bhante Gunaratana was ordained at the age of twelve as a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka, earned his PhD in philosophy from The American University, and has led meditation retreats, taught Buddhism, and lectured widely throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the president of the Bhavana Society in High View, West Virginia, where he lives.
Top customer reviews
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I have a meticulous system for taking notes when I read, but it didn’t work with Mindfulness in Plain English. Underlining 90% of the book doesn’t help highlight the most important lessons. This is the best book on mindfulness and meditation that I’ve read to date.
I read this book as a meditation refresher several years after I started meditating. I expected to take away a few tips on how to breathe better, how to deal with feeling sleepy and how to cope with pain and numb legs. I didn’t expect all the profound insight on the true meaning of mindfulness.
This book tells you what meditation is and what it isn’t. If you have an allergy to the word meditation, this is probably the book to start with because as the title indicates, it’s in plain English. There’s very little of the type of lingo that tends to turn a lot of people away from meditation. The book discusses things like loving kindness in a way that is approachable and understandable. It gives concrete tips on how to deal with some of the challenges you face not only during meditation, but in life. I had so many ah-ha moments that I actually started saying “ah-ha” while reading it.
Even though this book is centered on a Buddhist meditation practice called Vipassana, or insight, meditation, the book felt secular to me. You can get a lot out of it regardless of your religious or non-religious affiliation.
Even if you never plan to meditate, this book is still worth reading. If you’ve ever had anxiety or depression, if you ever get nervous or antsy, if you have difficulties concentrating, if you get distracted easily, read this book. If you’ve ever felt jealous, resentful, or just a little out of control, read this book. If you have regrets about the past or feel uncertain about the future, read this book. If you think you’re too busy to read, read this book.
Both a great orientation for those who are new to meditation and mindfulness and a refresher for seasoned meditators. It's a book I'll read again and again. Highly recommended. 10/10.
"We view impermanent things as permanent, though everything is changing all around us. The process of change is constant and eternal."
Bhante Gunaratana writes with a very engaging and relaxed style, which makes the book easy to follow and even humorous at times. He speaks with candor and right from the beginning he emphasizes that, “Meditation is not easy. It takes time and energy. It also takes grit, determination and discipline.” But, then he goes on to emphasize that meditation should be rejuvenating and liberating, and in fact, that most seasoned practitioners have a good sense of humor, because the practice creates a calmness and relaxed perspective about life. The author’s explanations about key concepts is stated in a fresh manner, for instance explaining that the word “suffering” in Buddhism needs to be thoroughly understood to realize that in the original Pali language it does not just mean agony of the body, but that it also means a sense of dissatisfaction that is typical of what all people deal with on a daily basis. He also emphasizes that Vipassana, unlike some other Buddhist traditions, ranks mindfulness and awareness right up beside concentration as a means to liberation. Thus a great part of the focus of meditation is a combination of concentration and mindfulness.
The author takes the time to explain differences in approach between Vipassana Buddhism and other forms, such as classic Mahayana sects like Zen Buddhism and Tibetan traditions. The other key element to this book is the great detail he goes into to explain precisely how to meditate, breaking it down regarding not using any mental recitations at all to help your focus, (which is something some other forms suggest you do). He explains multiple ways to help you focus through counting your breaths in different manners, emphasizing that different ways work for different people. And always, he emphasizes to be gentle with yourself and stay calm and patient as you experiment and practice. This last point is something he emphasizes again and again, making sure we understand that if our practice is causing suffering then we are clearly not practicing correctly. He addresses how to plan your practices and how to deal with common things such as your legs falling asleep, boredom, distractions, discouragement, drowsiness and inability to concentrate.