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A Gradual Awakening

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  645 ratings  ·  35 reviews
In this intelligent, accessible work, acclaimed poet and meditation teacher Stephen Levine introduces readers to meditation. Filled with practical guidance and advice--as well as extensive personal recollections--A Gradual Awakening explains the value of meditation as a means of attaining awareness, and provides readers with extensive advice on how establish a practice. Dr ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 16th 1989 by Anchor Books (first published 1978)
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4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  645 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Kira Fisher
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
this book is changing my life.
it's for anyone interested in starting on the buddhist path, or starting a vipassana practice.
it is so clear, so simple, and so full of truths that just set my head ringing like a bell.
i got it from the library and am now really needing to buy my own copy so i can fill it with notes and exclamation points.
Steve Greenleaf
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while you come across a book that strikes you as a fount of real wisdom. This is such a book

Stephen Levine writes about mindfulness meditation and the practical application of Buddhism in a more inviting and compelling manner than perhaps any other book that I've encountered. Levine bases his practice in the Theravada tradition, but he draws in other sources as well. But it's not his sources that make this book extraordinary, it's his wisdom. As I read these pages, I feel that I'
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book and "A Path with Heart" are my two all-time favorites for meditation and contemplative practices. This book is a great companion for any spiritual practice. The author pours himself into the pages in such a honest and matter-of-fact way. He has journeyed through many of his inner mazes and is guiding us with his words...
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was a really thoughtful book, and a good introduction to vipassana meditation, or insight meditation. i really appreciated the guided meditations on metta [loving-kindess:]. it would be a neat book to read with a group of people to nurture their sitting meditation practice.

Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
this book is amazing. totally inspired me to bring meditation into my life.
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book took me out of a state of take only what you will.
Ivan Gaikowski
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This text has offered much in terms of direction and wisdom. I read a chapter and have to put it down in order to contemplate the expanse of understanding that Stephen has made available. Ram Dass mentions in an intro how the book provides a resource for those of us individuals who want to go beyond the introductory texts but who are lost in the confusing pages of, what can seem like, esoteric babbling. A Gradual Awakening is a powerful tool for anyone looking to strengthen their mind, learn com ...more
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a great next step from "Mindfulness in Plain English." It presents many useful tools without imposing a metaphysical framework as to how they work. Each section is exactly as detailed as it needs to be.

I hesitated in giving this 5 stars as I try to reserve that rating for what I consider "desert island" books, but then I realized that this is such a book. It's more complete at 175 pages than 300+ page books I've read on the same topic that beat you over the head and never get the point a
Cecilia Zuniga
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Another beautiful, wise and poignant book by Stephen Levine with practices to support opening.
Steve Woods
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have read so many books dealing with the Buddha's path to spiritual freedom. I always completely floors me when I find someone who can treat the same material in such a way that I read in awe of both the power that the message still holds for me and the great depth of understanding that a writer can bring to its expression. This is one of those occasions. This is a beautiful piece of writing, so clear so concise and so gentle while remaining as uncompromising as the Buddha himself may have bee ...more
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every chapter is like a little pearl I want to hold onto forever. A fantastic book.
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
not mindblowing, but a nice overview of how mainstream western psychology might see the value of meditation practice.
Michael Wirdnam
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A constant source of spiritual guidance. Not a book to be read and finished.
Marco Pontual
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, beautiful book. Most chapters bookmarked for future sharing
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Deep and beautiful. Re-reading a must
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Here is a person who made some big mistakes in life with regards to painful consequences in life, and now is compassionate enough to share his methods of finding some peace in life. I find Stephen Levine, John Welwood, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Michael Singer and Larry Rosenberg (and others) so helpful in wending my way through the morass of life. There is clarity in the chaos and they help to point the way to that clarity. Once on the path, life takes on a new sheen, even as it continues to b ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
A very thorough look at meditation and mindfulness and the role each should play in our daily lives. The end felt a bit rushed to me though for some reason, and touched on areas that could have been expounded on a bit more like the rest of the book. Most of it just included things that I've already read a lot of online and all, so it wasn't a lot of new information coming my way. There were some fresh takes on certain ideas, though, and it was a very positive and encouraging book.
Tracy Collins
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-but-own
This book was an exercise in minfulness, that with the correct attention walks you closer to enlightenment and opens your eyes to new waya to challenge yourself. This book deserves to be revisted as it will,mean something different on each leg of one's journey and shine new lights with time. For those who know me, I do not reread books, this will stay on my to be read shelf.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I find Stephen Levine to have a style of writing that is kind of dry and a bit difficult to read even though the subject matter is interesting. I spend a bunch of time going over what I just read to get the full impact of what he is saying. I like him and his ideas but I wish he could write in a way that was easier to read.
Jeffrey May
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent stuff. I keep this one by my bed and check in often! One can never have too much in the way of wisdom teachings especially as a send off to sleep! (which I'm having a hard time doing right now at 4:37 AM!)
Apr 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Regarding meditation and social responsibility, practical instructions for day to day living based on the spiritual teachings of Budism. Chapters 18 (Letting Go of Hell) and 19 (Pleasure/Pain and Happiness) are always recommended for rereading and practicing by a friend named Ewing.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Weena sent me this one. It is accompanying me on a move into more regular meditation practice. He has a practical, learned voice and shares his thoughts on a wide variety of our typical human experiences.
Raechelle Thomas
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of the better books I've read on meditation.
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes.
a beautiful connection to the human spirit and how the spirit connects to the earth!
Christina Garidis
Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent for anyone seriously interested in dharma path or exploring alternative and more enlightened ways of thinking about things.
May 15, 2012 marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Katie Daniels
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first book on meditation I've actually made it all the way through.
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Where to begin, there is so much I have taken away from this book.
Suzanne Singman
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's an older book (1979), but still relevant. Very clear ideas about meditation and it's purpose in our lives. good directions about how to meditate and how to bring mindfulness into the world.
Steve Sarro
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm not a new-age hippie weirdo, I swear.
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American poet, author and teacher best known for his work on death and dying.
“The basis of the practice is to directly participate in each moment as it occurs with as much awareness and understanding as possible.” 2 likes
“Often when we hear people speak about meditation, we hear about wisdom, we hear about knowledge. But what, actually, is the effect, what’s the use, of wisdom or knowledge? Understanding. When you understand mind, you’re not at its mercy. When you don’t understand, you’re lost in the midst of it.” 2 likes
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