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Mindfulness in Plain English: 20th Anniversary Edition [Paperback]

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 6 2011
With over a quarter of a million copies sold, Mindfulness in Plain English is one of the most influential books in the burgeoning field of mindfulness and a timeless classic introduction to meditation. This is a book that people read, love, and share - a book that people talk about, write about, reflect on, and return to over and over again.
Bhante Gunaratana is also the author of Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English, The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English, and his memoir Journey to Mindfulness.

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Mindfulness in Plain English: 20th Anniversary Edition + Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
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If you'd like to read about meditation and then go back to your regular life, don't get this book. Henepola Gunaratana, a monk from Sri Lanka and venerated teacher of Buddhism, warns us that vipassana meditation is "meant to revolutionize the whole of your life experience." In one of the best nuts-and-bolts meditation manuals, he lays out the fundamentals of basic Buddhist meditation, the how, what, where, when, and why, including common problems and how to deal with them. His 52 years as a Buddhist monk make Mindfulness in Plain English an authority on a living tradition, and his years of teaching in America and elsewhere give it the clarity and straightforwardness that has made it so popular. If you'd like to learn the practice of meditation, you can't do better. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A masterpiece." (Jon Kabat-Zinn)

"A classic--one of the very best English sources for authoritative explanations of mindfulness." (Daniel Goleman)

"Of great value to newcomers... especially people without access to a teacher." (Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath)

"This book is the bible of mindfulness." (Barry Boyce, editor of Mindful magazine and The Mindfulness Revolution)

"Wonderfully clear and straightforward." (Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace)

"Pithy and practical." (Shambhala Sun)

"Jargon-free." (USA Today)

"Among the very best." (Tricycle)

"A classic." (Inquiring Mind)

"Profound...a classic interpretation of Vipassana meditation practice." (The Middle Way)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Mindfulness is not an easy concept to explain in words yet H. Gunaratana does a nice job of doing just that. First and foremost, this book is a beginner's guide to the practice of Vipassana (or Insight) meditation. Having it's roots in the Gutama Buddha's life over 2500 years ago, Vipassana meditation is a skill that takes only a short while to learn but a lifetime of dedication to master.
The introduction gives a brief look at the roots of the practice and tells the reader that meditation is intrinsically experiential so the best way to get started is to just sit and try it. In the following chapters, Gunaratana helps the reader to understand exactly what meditation is and what it isn't. From there he goes into more detailed instructions as to what your mind and body should be doing while you meditate. This is accompanied with useful tips on dealing with problems that may arise in your practice, including the 5 major hindrances that nearly all meditators face. The book wraps up with a more in depth look at exactly what "mindfulness" is and how to "take it from the cushion" and integrate it into our daily lives.
I found this book very easy to read and understand and feel it would be an excellent guide for people just getting into Buddhism and meditation. Already being the owner of a collection of books on Buddhism, this book didn't offer any new revelations but I was extrememly pleased with the sections on mindfulness and have already used some of the author's suggestions on integrating it into daily life. The main reason I did not give the book 5 stars is because it offers much more for the new reader than it does for one with more experience.
If you buy this book and still feel like you could use more detailed instructions on meditation, I recommend you also purchase "Change Your Mind: A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation" by Paramananda (ISBN: 0904766810).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to practice insight meditation and why Dec 25 2001
This is an excellent book. It is in plain English. It provides step by step, detailed instruction in how to practice insight meditation and mindfulness. This is the type of meditation that the Buddha describes in his writings.
But, in addition to providing the detailed nuts and bolts the author also explains why you should meditate and what you can get out of it.
The specificity of the instruction is what sets this book apart. Yes, his is not the only way to do it. But, if you are starting out new this is exactly the type of book that will provide a road map for you. As you read more, attend classes, or a sitting group you can modify your practice. But even with such this book provides much helpful and specific advice of how to do it and what to do when problems arise. Which they will.
In addition, the author's explanations of the whys of meditation have a surprising depth on re-read. Surprising because of their straight forward presentation. I've found revisiting the book most helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what the Title Says it is... May 21 2001
Sometimes when I pick up titles on meditation, yoga, or other practices associated with Eastern philosophy, mysticism or relgion, I am overcome with the author's inability to say what they mean in language that is useful to the rest of us. My relief was enormous, therefore, when a friend gave me this book by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana! This book is exactly what the title implies...easy to read and understand because it is not written in mystic hokum, rather it is written in plain english. The result is a manual for the beginning student of meditation that is sufficient to get you well on your way to benefitting from the practice of Insight Meditation.
In "Mindfulness" you will gain an understanding of what mindfullness is, how to cultivate it both during sitting practice and the rest of the time, tips on how to sit and how to overcome some of the most common distractions (including your feet going to sleep and your back hurting), and what to look for and what to avoid. I have not been practicing meditation for long, and this book was of enormous value in helping me identify the things I was doing that served as barriers to effective insight meditation, as well as giving me ideas on how to enhance the effectiveness of my meditation.
This is an extremely practical book for the western practitioner. It draws heavily upon the Buddhist paradigm, but the techniques for effective meditation cross all sect boundaries, and the beginning practitioner of any faith will find this book of enormous benefit. I would strongly encourage the reader to suppliment this book with "The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hahn. The two together are a delightfully easy to read but complete and well rounded introduction to the practices of Insight Meditation. If you want to know how but don't want to hire a Yogi to translate, this book is the place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book April 13 2002
Somehow I feel that a long review would be unfaithful to the spirit of this great book. Not since I discovered Alan Watts some ten years ago have I read such clear words in the context of buddhism. You will find great introductions to meditation in your local bookstore, from which I recommend the books of Chogyam Trungpa, his student Pema Chödrön, the American Surya Das, and last but not least Sogyal Rinpoche (all from the Tibetan tradition). But "Mindfulness in Plain English" (from the Theravada tradition) stands on a class of its own. If you are a rookie practitioner like me and you do not have the good fortune of having a qualified teacher around, I believe this little manual alone, and discipline, can take you a long way. And you will not exhaust it in one reading. The language is deceptively simple and the book contains some very nuanced discussions (e.g. the distinction between "mindfulness" and "concentration" should be required reading to philosophers of the mind; by the way, when will the Searles and the Dennetts ever discover the buddhist insights about consciousness?) This review is long enough: read the book and meditate everyday. You will be better and so will the world.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a masterpiece in meditation book. I read it in Korean and English two version and both are good
Published 1 month ago by Roy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Venerable Henepola Gunaratana has written a book that is free of all the mumbo jumbo that I have found in many books on meditation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Denis Beauchamp
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I read a lot of Meditation books, including most of those on Daniel Ingram's interateddaniel website. This is one of my favourites to which i'm eager to pick up again. Read more
Published 6 months ago by AlexLimion
5.0 out of 5 stars could be a life saver
This book exposed some of my most basic and stupid mistakes, like confusing stupification with depth, or treating concentration as an end in itself. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Brian Griffith
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditation book recommended
This a ckassic book meditation book to must have. It is high recomended recommended for those who have taken Vipassana 10 days course.
Published 20 months ago by S. Adriana Carolina
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindfulness in Plain English
This is an excellent book for anyoned wanting to get started in meditation. It covers when to meditate, where to meditate and how to make yourself comfortable enough to accomplish... Read more
Published on June 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Best
This is the best book of meditation for beginners and others.
Published on May 8 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars No strange language, direct wisdom.
This book is the best I've seen in explaining what meditation is(and it's not) without any extra religious baggage.The writting style is clear and somtimes humorous. Read more
Published on March 27 2002 by Dani Nofal
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Profound nor Particularly Well Written
Based mainly on the strength of the many 5-star reviews at Amazon.com, I purchased this book. While the price was not too bad, the author says he intends to write a simple "how-to"... Read more
Published on March 18 2002 by HLE
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Understated Mindful Meditation
This should be on anyone's shelf that is interested meditation as even an idea to be pursued. This book is low on the "dogma") if there is such a thing) of Buddhism. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2002 by "garric"
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