Start Here, Start Now: A Short Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

Bhante Gunaratana. Wisdom, $9.95 trade paper (170p) ISBN 978-1-61429-627-0
Gunaratana (Mindfulness in Plain English) offers a straightforward and informative introduction to mindfulness meditation, walking a fine line between familiar secularized instructions and careful guidance through difficult experiences that may challenge one’s worldview. On the surface, Gunaratana’s clear lessons provide the basics for sitting meditation, walking meditation, breath counting, the observation of negative and positive mental states, and other practices. There is little deviation from the forms of practice here, with no talk about personal experiences or analysis of Buddhist teachings; everything serves the practical purpose of teaching and guiding a meditation practice. These practical, simple instructions are rooted in the Buddhist tenets of emptiness, impermanence, and dissatisfaction that afflict the human experience, and Gunaratana spends the second half of the book discussing the implications of such thinking. Because “meditation takes gumption,” Gunaratana sees meditation as an inherently difficult practice that requires a steady commitment to observe, study, and watch whatever arises in one’s experiences, no matter how difficult or undesirable it may be. To this end he includes sections on “making pain the object of meditation” and dealing with distraction, restlessness, and boredom: “True mindfulness is never boring.” Beginners will find a highly accessible and insightful guide to mindfulness meditation, and even experienced practitioners may find this text useful for revisiting the basics. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/12/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Religion
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