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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  16,843 ratings  ·  938 reviews
Author Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. This expanded edition includes the complete text of its predecessor along with a new chapter on cultivating loving kindness. For anyone who is new to meditation, this is a great resource for learning how to ...more
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.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mindfulness in Plain English, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Nita The edition I read was published in 1993.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,843 ratings  ·  938 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
 “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,
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. ...more
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. ...more
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.
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
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
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
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
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-picks
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
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. ...more
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
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
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
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 a 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 list ...more
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meditation
Too verbose, that is, too much filler. For example, many of the solutions to problems that arise in meditation are the same: gently bring your attention back to the breath. So why break up the problems into different sections and take up many pages with the same solution? Oh yes, to justify charging for a full book.

Proustitute (on hiatus)
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
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.)
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.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
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
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!
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. ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a clear guide to Vipassanā aka the Buddhist meditation of insight into the true nature of reality.

Developed at times when science was done only in monasteries, this is a technique based on an empirical evidence. It is a tool that can be used for all purposes, not necessary connected to religion.

Get the book here:
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
One of those books that feels like it should be required reading. Also free audiobook on audible!! I'm now that annoying person who won't stop talking about how mindful I am. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Secular Sangha: A...: Mindfulness in Plain English 3 17 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
  • The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science
  • Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
  • Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah
  • Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  • The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master
  • The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
  • The Dhammapada
  • Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan
  • Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path
  • Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
  • Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
  • How to Train Your Mind: Exploring the Productivity Benefits of Meditation
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
  • Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

For hard-core book lovers, the month of December is a mixed blessing. Those relentless holiday obligations tend to cut into reading time....
28 likes · 2 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.” 21 likes
“Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy.” 15 likes
More quotes…