Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mindfulness in Plain English” as Want to Read:
Mindfulness in Plain English
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mindfulness in Plain English

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  12,177 ratings  ·  801 reviews

“A masterpiece.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Since Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994, it has become one of the bestselling — and most influential — books in the field of mindfulness. It’s easy to see why.

Author Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice o

Paperback, Revised, Expanded, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 25th 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,177 ratings  ·  801 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Mindfulness in Plain English
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Still know that the best way to understand mindfulness and meditation is just by the very act of meditation itself, yet reading this book gave the great understanding of Buddha's teaching. In Vietnam, Buddhism is combined folklore with Confucian and Taoist teachings making this faith somehow vague despite the fact that most of Vietnameses identify themselves as a Buddist. Thank to the beautifully written books as this one that Buddism and mindfulness become understandable for those who in need.
 “We are simply not paying enough attention to notice that we are not paying attention.”

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,
Viet Hung
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read for beginner meditators

This is more than the 3rd times I re-read this great book, after 3 years practicing meditation. Each time I read it, each time I learn more out of it. Certainly, I will re-read if after more meditation. If there is only one book to suggest for beginner meditators on the practice side, no doubt that I would pick this one.
Bart Everson
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
No problems with the message(s) in this book, but the tone was not for me. The use of the second person combined with absolute statements struck me the wrong way, as did the repeated concept that every problem you have can be solved (or at least ameliorated) by meditation -- and that if it isn't, the solution is still meditation.
Darryl Knudsen
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dharma
A Guide to vipassana meditation for a complete beginner. A clear and readable text. Would recommend to anyone who is looking to begin practicing meditation and don't want to get bogged down by theoretical and ritualistic stuff.
David Katzman
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
This was a book club pick and I tried my best to approach it with an open mind. I have studied several Buddhist texts in the past and this one is one of the best I've seen at simplifying the idea of Buddhist transcendence or enlightenment for the layman. I can see how this book would be a great resource for people looking to learn the "secrets of meditation", the author himself states there are no secrets all that's required is a willingness to try and focus. In general people are searching for ...more
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Despite having and constantly trying to deepen a daily meditation practice for years, I hadn't read this book. Since I'm slowly in the process of trying to reintegrate vipassana into my existing meditation practice—one rooted in the Kundalini yogic tradition—I found this book the be an invaluable resource, not only as a reintroduction of sorts to vipassana (insight meditation), but also perhaps reminding me why I've always preferred vipassana practice to zazen ("just sitting").

For those new to m
Dec 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: buddhism
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
Daniel Clausen
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
One review wrote about this book "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"."

This sums up my impression of the book.

In some ways, the book was a perfection introduction to meditation; but in the end, I was glad once I was done to write my own summary that amounted to three pages.

For me, thre
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great exposition of not only meditation but also of how to practice mindfulness throughout everyday life. (Also a great intro to Vipassana meditation.)
Hákon Gunnarsson
I think this is the best, or at least among the very best books on meditation, and mindfulness that I have read. It is certainly the most practical one as it goes into the basic problems of meditating, how to sit still for a long time, distractions, boredom, and so on. Gunaratana really does give the reader a guide to meditation in plain English as the title promises.

He also goes into things like what meditation is (chapter 3), and what it isn’t (chapter 2). In my view, those two chapters shoul
Dawn-a very sensitive romance reader
A must read for those interested in Vipassana meditation.

The author is very clear and concise.

Very easy to follow and understand.

I will re read over and over
Brendan Monroe
Somewhere near the top of my list of New Year Resolutions I didn't make for 2019 because I think it's sort of lame to be like everyone else and fail hard like everyone else but nevertheless I sort of made in my head because the start of a new year does feel like the time to stop the old things and start the new was the decision to try and be more mindful.

Step 1: Ditch the distractions.

Easier said than done! I actually listened to the audiobook of this which was the probably the worst format to
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting and informative but a bit repetitive.
Sep 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-horrible
This book isn’t meant to be read, it is meant to be experienced on an completely transcendental level, above the common concerns and petty squabbling that make up modern life for over-privileged douche bags like you, people who post shit on Facebook like a picture of a kitten hanging on to a tree limb with captions some other douche bag wrote saying things like “Mondays Suck” or “Is it Happy Hour Yet?”. Maybe you drive a Humvee or some other gas-guzzling, climate-changing leviathan while you lis ...more
I don't really want to review this, so this is really just a few brief notes I wanted to share. I liked this well enough and found it useful enough to buy a copy for my physical book library. When I first began reading it, and its description of meditation, I was beginning to think that this may be impossible for me, but reading it further, he shared an old metaphor of meditation as taming a wild elephant, with your mind being the wild elephant, stamping and trying to get away with all its might ...more
Mark Bao
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: beginners to meditation
This is an excellent introduction to mindfulness meditation. I'm impressed by the rational treatment given to meditation and the simple language used; it's mostly about meditation itself and rarely has "spiritual" stuff harm the message. It made me go from kind-of meditating to really starting to meditate the right way (watching thoughts, returning to the breath), how to deal with distractions, meditating in real life, and what mindfulness really means.
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
This audio was easy and helpful to listen to; a detailed guide to mediation, and one I will reference frequently for my practice.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
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
David Manley
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are trying to meditate but are extremely frustrated by the fact that meditation is totally impossible, read this book.

It's excellent and thorough. I read it as a book, but it is really more of a guide or manual. If I have any hope of learning to meditate properly, it is partly thanks to this book, and I will certainly be referring back to certain parts. I've been using the Headspace app for a while, and that is helpful, but I needed more context and theory, and a better understanding of w
Catherine Austen
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vipassana-Novices
Since this is not a 'book' based in fiction or non-fiction genres, it is a bit unfair to give any rating to this work. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So the real merit of this book can be judged by somebody who actively meditates, since this is essentially a manual for Vipassana Meditation.

I am yet to try out Vipassana, but I am pretty eager after reading this book. IMHO, the book can be pared to at least half its length if the author were not so verbose. And as you can expect from a
Allysia K
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book on mindfulness I've read so far! As the title implies, this book is practical, actionable and easy to read. Now if only vipassana meditation was as easy as reading this book. Or even easy at all.

If you're interested in getting into meditation, I think this book is as good an entry point as any. There are many styles of meditation, but I really enjoy the no-frills vipassana style. It's all about seeing the truth and pure experience, so it's not woo or fluffy.

Great read!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Secular Sangha: A...: Mindfulness in Plain English 3 14 Oct 26, 2018 12:12AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please merge these two books 2 16 May 02, 2018 02:08AM  
Mindfulness books etc for free 3 43 Oct 28, 2012 03:03AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • What the Buddha Taught
  • Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
  • The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science
  • The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
  • The Experience of Insight: A Simple & Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation (Shambhala Dragon Editions)
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
  • The Dhammapada
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  • The Foundations of Buddhism
  • Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas
  • Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
  • Conquest of Mind: Take Charge of Your Thoughts and Reshape Your Life Through Meditation
  • The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering
  • Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book
  • Insight Meditation: A Psychology of Freedom
  • Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
See similar books…
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is the founding abbot of the Bhavana Society. Born in rural Sri Lanka, he has been a monk since age 12 and took full ordination at age 20 in 1947. He came to the United States in 1968. “Bhante G” (as he is fondly called by his students) has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English and its companion Eight Mindful ...more

News & Interviews

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
54 likes · 31 comments
“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.” 17 likes
“Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy.” 10 likes
More quotes…