- Paperback: 191 pages
- Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 2nd Revised edition edition (January 25, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0861710649
- ISBN-13: 978-0861710645
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 458 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mindfulness in Plain English Paperback – January 25, 1992
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If you'd like to read about meditation and then go back to your regular life, don't get this book. Henepola Gunaratana, a monk from Sri Lanka and venerated teacher of Buddhism, warns us that vipassana meditation is "meant to revolutionize the whole of your life experience." In one of the best nuts-and-bolts meditation manuals, he lays out the fundamentals of basic Buddhist meditation, the how, what, where, when, and why, including common problems and how to deal with them. His 52 years as a Buddhist monk make Mindfulness in Plain English an authority on a living tradition, and his years of teaching in America and elsewhere give it the clarity and straightforwardness that has made it so popular. If you'd like to learn the practice of meditation, you can't do better. --Brian Bruya
"A masterpiece. I cannot recommend it highly enough." -- Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are
"Of great value to newcomers...especially people without access to a teacher." -- Larry Rosenberg, Director, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center
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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.