Mindfulness in Plain English
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Mindfulness in Plain English

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  3,647 ratings  ·  254 reviews
With his distinctive clarity and wit, "Bhante G" takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. We already have the foundation we need to live a more productive and peaceful life — Bhante simply points to each tool of meditation, tells us what it does, and how to make it work. This expanded edition includes t...more
Paperback, Revised, Expanded, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Wisdom Publications (first published 1993)
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Siddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Art of Happiness by Howard C. CutlerZen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu SuzukiWhen Things Fall Apart by Pema ChödrönThe Dhammapada by Gautama Buddha
A Buddhist Reading List
9th out of 484 books — 611 voters
Om Chanting and Meditation by Amit RayMeditation by Sri ChinmoyMindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola GunaratanaWherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-ZinnZen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Best Meditation Books
3rd out of 44 books — 37 voters

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I expected an exceptional guide to meditation and was surprised to find the book also contained strong, clearly articulated reasons for cultivating mindfulness. This is the best, most concise book on the subject I've read to date. The directness with which ideas are expressed may be startling for some, but the rationale for practice offered throughout is solid. I think it will appeal to any rational person, whether they subscribe to a particular religion or have no faith at all. This is an excel...more
Darryl Knudsen
Even those who don't plan to engage in Buddhist meditation will benefit from his descriptions of the many distractions (mental and physical) that we create for ourselves and which make it more difficult to lead aware lives full of compassion for those around us.

Excellent overview of Vipassana meditation and why it's worth your time. Also an excellent articulation of the need and benefits of cultivating "loving friendliness" toward yourself, those you love, strangers, and even eventually toward...more
David Katzman
Dec 31, 2010 David Katzman rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Those with some experience meditating looking to explore further
I’m an armchair Buddhist. Meaning, I like to think about being Buddhist more than actually practicing. But I certainly have deep appreciation for much of Buddhist thought, and I occasionally meditate, and I want to do so more frequently. I almost joined a Zen Buddhist Temple about a mile away from where I live. Still thinking about doing so. Oddly enough, the Art Director who designed Death by Zamboni with me quit his job to become a monk there. I think I drove him crazy because I was so demandi...more
No review, just quotes. Each of the following paragraphs are direct quotes, in the order they are found in the text. The book is freely available online.

We have taken a flowing vortex of thought, feeling and sensation and we have solidified that into a mental construct. Then we have stuck a label onto it, 'me'. And forever after, we treat it as if it were a static and enduring entity. We view it as a thing separate from all other things. We pinch ourselves off from the rest of that process of et...more
Catherine Austen
I was feeling overwhelmed and not really present in my life so I thought I'd try this book. I took a mindfulness workshop ages ago, and I've read several other books since, but I've never incorporated the practice into my life for more than a few weeks at a time. I always let it slide, return to old habits, then run back to mindfulness in desperation when I'm overwhelmed. This book might change that pattern for me. I borrowed it from the library a couple of months ago. It's a very good introduct...more
Andrew Frueh
Probably one of the most practical, nuts-and-bolts guides to meditation practice I've read. The author is writing from the perspective of the vipassana tradition, but what is unique about this book is that it primarily stays away from the spiritual side of Buddhism. It's focus is almost entirely on the technique, problems, and solutions of mindfulness meditation. Of all the books I've read on Buddhism, this is the first I've come across like that. It is valuable information particularly to someo...more
Bart Everson
Mar 27, 2012 Bart Everson rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone interested in meditation
Hard to evaluate this book, because I've never read anything quite like it.

It is a basic meditation manual. It does not attempt to cover a broad range of approaches. Rather it's focused on one specific type, namely mindfulness meditation, also known as Vipassana or insight meditation. The author is coming from a Theravāda Buddhist tradition. However, as the title implies, the material is given a straightforward presentation with minimal metaphysical baggage.

That might sound dry. It's not. The w...more
Forse il miglior manuale per chi vuole avvicinarsi alla pratica della meditazione, anche se alcuni concetti li si comprende solo con l'esperienza diretta. Il pericolo rimane sempre quello di crearsi uno schema mentale su come svolgere determinate attività, invece di limitarsi a svolgerle e toccare con mano la materia, ma è inevitabile quando si cerca di comunicare a parole un'esperienza.
Niki Bivona
I finished this book a week ago and have mediated every day since. Here is an excerpt from the book that perfectly describes how I'm feeling...

Somewhere in this process, you will come face-to-face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless.

Seriously, there is SO much going on up there. Meditation seems hopeless. But the author goes on...

No pro
Daniel Roy
Nov 11, 2012 Daniel Roy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daniel by: /r/meditation
I'm not experienced at meditation, so I'm not particularly qualified to comment on the quality of the advice given in this book. What I can talk about is my impressions of the book, the clarity of its instructions, and its relevance to my own desire to start meditating.

With that in mind, I found this book excellent. It fully fulfills its promise of clear, straightforward advice on Vipassana meditation. There's no fluff here, no religious flights of fancy. This is a hands-on, practical book on me...more
Possibly one of the more retarded books I've read in some time. Despite what the title would have you believe, rather than simply explaining the Vipaâsyanåa meditation technique the author feels he has to go on and on about suffering, talk about how superior he is (in a humble way), and how much clearer everything will be once you achieve this intangible state of being.

Oh but wait, you can't want to achieve this state. Woops! I get the whole Buddhist thing but you can lay something out with out...more
Jeremy Allan
Despite my reluctance to admit reading what might seem like "self-help" books to others, I am happy to have read this in public and to post my thoughts on it here. I chose it because I am interested in Buddhist meditation but have wanted to approach it on my own, from a secular perspective. This book provides a solid primer on the practice, both in technique and theory, without overdoing the religious element. There are moments when this book feels slightly redundant and where the organizational...more
Very down to earth, believable, simple, true to self and devoid of folkloric terms from the Buddhist culture which tend to put me off when it comes to that topic. (Unfortunately). But this book is full of humor, seducing and only downside (which may not be a downside in the long run) is the final part which went a bit overboard about compassion and loving kindness.
Overall, not only recommended but perhaps vital piece of reading in one's life, especially at times when everything seems to go haywi...more
Lise Baltzer
Lise Baltzer om: Mindfulness in Plain English.

Det her er mindfulness bogen, som jeg ville tage med på en øde ø (sammen med én eller to andre). Fuldstændig ren i snittet, klart formuleret - og behageligt fri snak om evidens og program-dit-og-program-dat og "Den eneste rigtige måde at gøre det på";-) Ja, ja, hver ting til sin tid, men hvor er det dog vidunderligt at bare at læse om den rene vare fra én, der har praktiseret hele sit liv, og som trods dét er forblevet udogmatisk. Ahhhhh ... Den fald...more
Mindfulness has been a topic that has continually appeared in my periphery (Wisdom 2.0 conference, Whil app, Time magazine cover, various web articles) that I wanted to explore its actual meaning and practice, rather than relying on my own assumptions and inference.
So, this book was helpful, interesting, simple.

I've never read a book where the author spends such time defining the scope of what he will and will not cover. If you're wondering: Buddhist Vipassana meditation.

In the end, I don't bel...more
Aug 29, 2013 Thomas added it
An odd mix: kept switching back and forth between pragmatic-sounding approaches to meditation and kinda out-there metaphysical/philosphical tangents. Felt repetitive, but that could have just been the attempt to put this material in "plain English".

No rating until I actually have been putting this stuff into practice for a bit and see where it takes me.
E' la seconda volta che leggo questo libro. La prima fu qualche anno fa, tentai ad approcciarmi alla meditazione e questo libro viene perennemente consigliato come ottimo inizio. Purtroppo quella volta non riuscii ad essere costante. Lo lessi, ne trassi probabilmente poco, lo catalogai come l'ennesimo "utile ma mai utilizzato".

Ormai è qualche mese che medito praticamente ogni mattina e ho pensato fosse venuto il momento di rileggerlo. Ne ho tratto molto più di quanto mi sarei aspettato. Alcuni c...more
Probably the best introductory Insight Meditation ( Vipassana ) book written for English speakers. An exceptionally clear, step-by-step, nondenominational guide with everyday examples that everyone can easily relate to.

You can read an older edition of it, online, for free at
This book helped me get into a regular meditation routine several years ago. Most meditation books are all saying the same thing, so it's really just a matter of finding one that speaks to you. I like Thich Nhat Hanh's books a lot, too.
This is the how-to book for which I'd been looking. Simple and clear, it anticipates nearly every question that someone new to meditation could have. Other mindfulness literature is interesting, but this is singularly *useful.*
May 20, 2010 Miles is currently reading it
So far, I think it is an excelent step by step guide to watching how I think, with the short term goal of feeliong better about my thoughts and reactions to things...I'll keep you posted, if anyone is interested
Cristian F
Great guide for beginners.
It resonated with my experience.
There is some really helpful stuff in this book.
I recommend this to anyone who would like to add a bit of realness to their experience.
The tone of this book is fantastic, as is the practical information it contains. I will be reading this again.
Would recommend to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Exceptional introduction to Insight Meditation. At times I found it somewhat repetitive, but if you haven't been exposed to these ideas in the past, rehearsals of the subject matter will surely be useful. The author deftly avoids entanglement in the particulars of the Buddhist religion and focuses on meditation. With the aid of this guide, you can experience non-judgemental moment-to-moment awareness, improved concentration and calm, clarity and richness to your everyday experience, greater appr...more
Gunaratana spends a lot of time setting up what meditation is and isn't, but then spends as much or more time discussing the actual thing in what is accurately described as "plain English". The book opens with a brief discussion of the different branches of Buddhism, and where the practice of vipassina meditation that he is describing fits in. He discusses many intricacies of what is at fist thought a pretty simple concept--you meditate. You sit on a cushion and focus on your breathing. But the...more
This book explains the philosophy and practice of Vipassana Buddhism, and for the most part, it does so in "plain English." I like how this book really spells it out in black and white, explaining the how and why behind everything. It answers a lot of questions I had, particularly the purpose of lovingkindness meditation. Some explanations in this book were some of the best I've heard yet.

However, several times this book loses its "plain English" approach. For example: "Vipassana meditation is t...more
This is a beautiful book, both in the message it conveys and in the way it conveys it.

If you stripped away the religious encrustation that has built up around the teachings of the Buddha, you would have a simple plan for life and Gunaratana shows the way by defining the purpose of meditation with a goal of insight.

The concept of the individual as a substantial thing and the endless pursuit of gain and avoidance of loss to the ego sentence us to misery. Through careful use of the mind, it is poss...more
This is an excellent introduction to Vipassana meditation written by one who has knowledge of many of the obstacles and breakthroughs you'll likely encounter. It is heavy on the practical application of meditation and light on theory. If you are interested in theory or an exhaustive description of Buddhist principles, you will need to look elsewhere.

Minor warning: the author makes extensive use of repetition with only slight variation (presumably for emphasis).

While this is a great tool for begi...more
Leon M
"Mindfulness in Plain English" is a very good introduction to what meditation is all about. Having only read a few texts here and there (plus "Meditation for Dummies", which - I reckon - does not really count), this book took me by surprise with its detailed and down-to-earth description of what the goal of meditation really is. It also scared the hell out of me.

If you considered meditation to be simple relaxation, or maybe a way to train your concentration or forget the stress of daily live -...more
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Mindfulness books etc for free 3 11 Oct 28, 2012 03:03AM  
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
  • Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
  • What the Buddha Taught with Texts from Suttas & Dhammapada
  • Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
  • The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
  • Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation
  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya
  • Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
  • Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
  • It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness
  • The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness
  • The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World
  • Insight Meditation: A Psychology of Freedom
  • A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
  • Buddhism Plain and Simple
  • Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering
Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha's Path Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English Journey to Mindfulness: The Autobiography of Bhante G. The Path Of Serenity And Insight (An Explanation Of Buddhist Jhanas)

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“Deeply buried in the mind, there lies a mechanism that accepts what the mind experiences as beautiful and pleasant and rejects those experiences that are perceived as ugly and painful. This mechanism gives rise to those states of mind that we are training ourselves to avoid-- things like greed, lust, hatred, aversion, and jealousy.” 7 likes
“The irony of it is that real peace comes only when you stop chasing it—another Catch-22.” 2 likes
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