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Mindfulness in Plain English: Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – November 1, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
I loved this book.
Mindfulness in Plain English is a meditation manual that's been brutally stripped of superstitious hokus pokus. It's focused, straight-forward, practical, yet profound. It says what it means and it means what it says. And if you practice, really practice, you'll find the techniques it describes can honestly change your entire outlook on life in a frighteningly short period of time.
If you're a skeptic, and you're interested in meditation as a psychological exercise rather than a mystical mystery, you'll do well with this book. If you need your chakras petted, look at any of its 10,000,000 lesser competitors in your local flaky pseudo-eastern bookshop.
He explains a variety of ways to meditate, details the kinds of problems you'll confront, and offers a variety of methods to deal with those problems. Instead of telling you "the" way to meditate, he helps you find your way to meditate.
That's why this book is one you'll use, rather than just read. It's not like all those other trophy books we read once and then leave out for display, for ourselves or others.
His writing style reminds me of the Dalai Lama's; it is eloquent, yet to the point. It's profound, yet practical. His writing is grounded in your immediate experience. It is not abstract, esoteric or grandly philosophical.
I can't agree with the notion that this is a fast read. This isn't because it's a difficult read. There is a lot to absorb in a few pages. I found myself wanting to reread many chapters, just so I could articulate it myself. It is a very thought-full book.
But it leaves out much advice that would have made it much better. 90% of those starting a meditation class drop out - meditation teachers such as Gunaratana rarely seek to find out why and so the small things that get in the way of even the most determined intentions. A good meditation book must tackle them - and Gunaratana like every writer does so only partially.
Here is a list of a few of things that could be added.
A beginner requires equipment to handle the 20, 30 or 40 minute duration of their meditation -- for example, a timer used in cooking (under something to dim its unpleasant alarm sound), or a CD burnt with silent tracks that end with one of bells. After a few months, time can be estimated by looking at a watch but in the initial days such checking just adds an additional and an unnecessary burden.
Ear plugs (motor cyclist shops and internet sites are a good source), or ear muffs (internet sites again check for Bilsom or Peltor brands) might be an idea. Again after a few months, distracting sounds of kids, power tools, TVs in other rooms etc are not a problem, and can even add to the practice, but in the initial stages they add that extra difficulty.Read more ›
That said, I will admit that some of those parts dealt with processes that are hard to explain adequately in a book. But I still sat there at times thinking, "what? how, precisely, do I do that?" For example, in the section on dealing with problems that crop up during meditation, the author advises the reader to deal with physical pain by relaxing tensed muscles one by one, doing so very thoroughly. Now, that may sound simple to you. Perhaps I'm a dolt. I dunno. But I haven't a clue how to relax each muscle one at a time. I'm constantly amazed to find I have muscles where previously I thought I had none. ;-) I'm supposed to accomplish this muscle relaxation strictly through thought processes? Okay, I believe that's possible, but what do I do? Ack. Right after that, the author advises the reader to continue by going after the mental resistance next.
Now, to be fair, the author admits there are no human words to precisely explain this process. And I feel in my gut that he's right, but I'm disgustingly literal and really require precision in explanation in order to think I can get my head around something new and challenging.
Have I turned you off? If so, let me now say that I LOVE this book. I've never read anything that so clearly was written to help someone understand how to meditate for insight. The writer takes great care to explain the process as much as he is able to. The stuff that he doesn't explain--well, it's just not enough of a factor to make me dislike this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great introduction to meditation. It helped me a lot to get the essentials and actually start doing meditation. Read morePublished 7 months ago by S.D.
Outstanding read. Instructive, reassuring, and thorough. Have earmarked so many pages.
Pulls all my thoughts and ideas about meditating together. Love it.
Nuts and bolts instruction in insight meditation. I've been "going it alone" for a while now, so this book was a departure for me - and a good one. Read morePublished 11 months ago by MaddieMay
You can see the most of your physical muscles. Properly practiced, mindfulness strengthens invisible brain and mind muscles. Read morePublished 16 months ago by METAHUMAN