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Don't Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat with Sylvia Boorstein
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Don't Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat with Sylvia Boorstein

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Get away from doing and into being with this lively, down-to-earth guide to your own meditation retreat by beloved mindfulness meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein. Presenting what Jon Kabat-Zinn has called "endearingly personal mindfulness wisdom," she offers a three-day retreat plan accompanied by timeless lessons -- always grounded in real life -- on how anyone can achie ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 16th 1996 by HarperOne
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May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mindfulness cultivates the habit of not getting angry with life because it isn’t happening in the way we’d like
the mind becomes confused and fatigued chasing pleasant experiences and running away from unpleasant experiences
the chasing and running creates tension in the mind. that is suffering

pay attention: attentive sitting and alert walking

keep everything simple:

Paul Revere had the words “Live Contented” inscribed on the wedding ring he gave to his spouse.

The real work of mindfulness is accomm
Lieva Whitbeck
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, buddhism
Get your calendar. Find the next 3-5 day stretch where you can make it be ok to step away from your life. Find a place to go. Any place will do. (Bonus points for lots of pretty nature. More bonus points for not so many people who will talk to you. But really, any place will do.) Take this book. Read the first little bit before you leave, it will tell you what else to take (not much.) Then just follow the instructions. So helpful.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mindfulness, quotes
There is no storyteller like Sylvia Boorstein! This is a manual for mindfulness practice but even reading it (and not doing the practice) helped ease my ever-present worries.


I've noticed license plate frames that say "I'd rather be sailing" or "I'd rather be bowling." Sometimes I think it's fun to see the rather-be-doing frames because they are a hint about the driver. Other times I start reflecting about the fact that preferring to be doing something else always diminishes the present mo
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book lends itself to be read a bit at a time. I am so inspired by Boorstein's descriptions of a do-it-yourself meditation retreat that I am excitedly planning mine. I highly recommend this to anyone exploring mindfulness and meditation. ...more
Jim Thompson
Mar 23, 2021 rated it liked it
About once per year, more if I'm lucky enough to have time for more, I do some sort of "retreat." Usually it's pretty informal-- I find a cabin or pull out the tent or whatever, I go someplace quiet, I read, I write, I meditate, I try to get my head straight, try to settle down from the buzz of every day life. Once, it was more formal-- a 4 day/3 night sesshin at a Zen center, lots of silence, lots of sitting, overall just an amazing (though difficult) experience.

I picked this book up a while b
Anna Johnson
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written in simple language and full of personal stories that readers can easily relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Each chapter is short, concise and encouraging. Even if you are new to meditation and mindfulness, you will benefit immensely from this book. It not only helps you structure your retreat at your own place and time but also teach you how to meditate, what to expect, the hurdles (which are not a bad thing), how to improve your mindfulness and how to carry i ...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is such a lovely book. Easy to read, almost folksy and down to earth. It's all about mindfulness, Buddhism and meditation and kinda setting yourself up for your very own mindfulness retreat.
Definitely reading more sylvia!
Brett Lawrence
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great book if you want an introduction to mindfulness meditation. The books basically a spiritual retreat in binding If you have a quiet space and a few free days take it with you and she will be your guide. Also a great book to sharpen your daily practice.
Alan Eyre
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
What she writes always resonates w me.
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Found it boring... Could not get into it at all!
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A do-it-yourself guide for holding your own personal mindfulness retreat
David Glasgow
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book is excellently chosen. "Don't Just Do Something" is a challenging, encouraging, caring book about nothing—which is an excellent find for someone whose days are much, much too full of "something."

The book presents itself as a manual for a three-day mindfulness retreat (arrive, sit, walk, sit, tea, sleep, etc.), so I was at first tempted to put the book down and scan the library shelves for another alternative. (I don't have TIME for a three-day retreat on mindfulness! I'm t
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2013
A word of warning, this is really a book about meditation retreats. I did not use it that way but more as a book for reflecting on the process of meditation. Although it worked for me in that way, I think it would be more useful for a person planning a retreat. This author writes from the Buddhist perspective, soit that offends you you may want to avoid it. That said, I think anyone, not just a Buddhist, will find value in the insights the author shares.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the first mindfulness books I read and it made an impression. It just came back to me while I was in meditation in yoga class.

Highly recommended; I have learned from and enjoyed much of Sylvia Boorstein's writing.
Mary Follis
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book for a do-it-yourself retreat, or a good way to brush up on what meditation is, why do it and how to do it. Even better the second time around, and very useful to me during a retreat of one.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE Sylvia Boorstein! She is one of the most accessible Buddhist teachers I know. This book is full of useful, practical advice for doing a solitary retreat. Now if I could just find time to go on one... Thank goodness it is also completely applicable to one's regular meditation practice, too! ...more
Laura Lee
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am not a big meditator but this was on my shelf, I must have thought I would be! That was back in 1996! It was interesting, with some good advice on how to meditate. Made me want to go on a retreat! The best message: live contentedly.
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book on how to create a meditation retreat for yourself. Sylvia manages to illuminate nuances of meditation in a succinct, entertaining style. All of her instructions are great for any kind of mindfulness practices, whether a retreat or day-to-day practice.
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nice book on how to hold your own self-directed retreat. Great tips on practices, schedules, things that might arise when one is doing serious practice. Feels much more directed to the new yogi, or one who might be interested in deepening things.
Barbara Newhall
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is another of my big favorite books of all time. Boorstein tells great spiritual truths -- usable by Christians, Jews, atheists, and, of course, Buddhists -- through down-to-earth stories. She's very much present in this book. And she's great company. ...more
Adam Dupaski
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Very helpful. Boorstein's descriptions of the processes and focal points of mindfulness meditation are some of the clearest and most encouraging I've come across. ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This has several exercises you can sneak in everyday. I'm looking forward to trying a full weekend sometime though! ...more
May 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: buddhist, mediation
Actually one of those 3.5 star books. For the full review:
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, simple, accessible. I'm planning to follow her guidance for meditation exercises and things to consider while sitting and not thinking. :) ...more
Rita Jensen
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sometimes "doing nothing" does more than all the busy ness that we fill our lives with in order to feel important.
Apr 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism, non-fiction
All about mediation retreat.
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theravada
A good guide for a self-directed Vipassana/Insight Meditation retreat/relaxation weekend.
Laura Siegel
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
Simple reflections on meditation and staying present. A lovely little book.
Trish Rux
rated it really liked it
Sep 27, 2015
Mark J.
rated it really liked it
Sep 17, 2011
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Sylvia Boorstein (born 1936) is an American writer and Buddhist spiritualist.

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3 likes · 1 comments
“Mindfulness meditation doesn't change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart's capacity to accept life as it is. It teaches the heart to be more accommodating, not by beating it into submission, but by making it clear that accommodation is a gratifying choice.” 33 likes
“Don't just do something, sit there!” 0 likes
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