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Mindfulness in Plain English: 20th Anniversary Edition Paperback – Sep 6 2011

45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications; 20th anniversary ed edition (Sept. 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861719069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861719068
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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)

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Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roy Gordon on Dec 25 2001
Format: Paperback
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 By Missing in Action on May 21 2001
Format: Paperback
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 By FABRICIO M. R. Silva on April 13 2002
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Buckeye on Jan. 23 2002
Format: Paperback
Whether you are a complete novice thinking about starting to meditate, or someone who has meditated for decades, you will find much of value in this book. It is written in a delightfully straightforward way without a hint of any sort of sectarian dogma or new age goofiness. An exceptionally well written book that covers all the major topics in a crisp, concise, understandable way.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By HLE on March 18 2002
Format: Paperback
Based mainly on the strength of the many 5-star reviews at, I purchased this book. While the price was not too bad, the author says he intends to write a simple "how-to" guide to meditation. While it is in many aspects simple, it is over-written. The structure is simple, while his choice of vocabulary is not. He chooses $5 words, when a $.25 word would be fine. The information could have been presented in a more concise manner, and the book could have been written in one-half to one-third as much space without losing any salient content.
While the "how-to" content was sufficient, the author's rambling was distracting. After a while, I found myself ultimately having to skim for the morcels of good stuff.
To the author: Please, next time, spare the editorialising and overuse of adjectives. I also purchased, but have yet to read, "Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness : Walking the Buddha's Path" (by this author). I hope it does not contain as many words serving only to fill space. I shall review that book after I read it.
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