Introducing Mindfulness: Buddhist Background and Practical Exercises (Paperback)

Bhikkhu Anālayo

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An accessible beginner’s guide to the practice of mindfulness

Buddhist meditator and scholar monk Anālayo examines the various aspects of mindfulness practice and its many benefits. He also explores the history of mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition. At the end of every chapter he offers practical exercises to help develop mindfulness.

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Introducing Mindfulness: Buddhist Background and Practical Exercises

Bhikkhu Anālayo

Buddhist meditator and scholar Bhikkhu Anālayo introduces the Buddhist backgrounds to mindfulness, ranging from mindful eating to its formal cultivation as satipatthana (the foundations of mindfulness). He also offers a historical survey of the development of mindfulness in different Buddhist traditions. Providing an accessible guide, he offers practical exercises on how to develop mindfulness.

The orally transmitted early teachings examined here provide a range of perspectives on mindfulness, with a clear overarching focus on the role of mindfulness in the path to ‘awakening’, to an understanding of reality as it is. Anālayo shows how mindfulness is a central tool for recognizing the influence of greed, anger and delusion, and how to emerge from these to progress on the path of practice to liberation. He shows how mindfulness brings about a clear vision of reality, fostering a gradual freeing of the mind from these influences, and enabling us to be more fully in touch with what is taking place and remain in the present; we learn to slow down and come to our senses.

As well as being directed within, Anālayo demonstrates how mindfulness helps us discern how what we do impacts others, and thus naturally strengthens our compassion, helping us avoid harming others and ourselves.

Mindfulness is something to be practised, and at the end of each chapter Anālayo provides instructions for developing mindfulness step by step, bringing it into our personal experience.


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Introducing Mindfulness is an important read for anyone looking to further their conceptual understanding, link it with practice, and in doing so deepen their wisdom. Seamlessly weaving together primary texts, memorable stories and practical practice tips ranging from eating to ethics, Anālayo brings a fresh pragmatism to a field easily waylaid by dogmatism.’ – Judson Brewer, author of The Craving Mind

‘Although we often speak of “mindfulness” in the singular, it manifests in a variety of ways in contexts ranging from the simple act of eating a meal to the contemplation of the mind itself. Meticulously researched and written with striking lucidity, this book by a renowned scholar-practitioner guides us through the intricacies of mindfulness with explanations and exercises that, while remarkably accessible to those who are new to mindfulness, are at the same filled with keen insights relevant to even the most accomplished practitioners and researchers. Bhikkhu Anālayo examines fundamental questions, such as the way that key capacities of mindfulness can emerge from working with our reactivity to pain, and he does so by also tracing pivotal historical developments that explain how various traditions interpret mindfulness. Always returning to the concrete goal of actually cultivating mindfulness, this remarkable book dispels many misunderstandings – such as the notion that it is somehow “inauthentic” to practice mindfulness for health reasons – while offering a clear, practical and insightful account of how we can ourselves be more mindful.’ – John D Dunne, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative Humanities, University of Wisconsin–Madison

‘In Introducing Mindfulness, Anālayo offers a wide-ranging survey of both the meaning and applications of mindfulness. It is a wise and helpful presentation of essential elements of the Buddha’s teaching, and it will be of great value for those who wish to put these teachings into practice. A wonderful Dharma gift.’ – Joseph Goldstein, author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening

‘This monograph is a gold mine for anyone who is working in the broad field of mindfulness-based programs for addressing health and wellbeing in the face of suffering – in any or all of its guises. It is a concise yet comprehensive high-resolution exegesis of the major pillars of classical Dharma through the lens of mindfulness, offered by a highly respected scholar/practitioner monastic. It is an invaluable primer and reference text for anyone interested in the breadth and depth of mindfulness itself, its original Buddhist sources, its ethical foundation, its universal applicability, and its incontestable relevance in our world today.’ – Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important, and Falling Awake: How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life

‘This is a timely book for understanding the Buddhist background of mindfulness and how to integrate its practice into our daily lives. Venerable Anālayo provides an extraordinarily clear and readable guide to mindfulness in accessible language that is informed by his scholarship in early Buddhism and grounded in his extensive personal meditation practice. For those who want to deepen their understanding of mindfulness, this book is a rare treat. It may well be the best scholarly yet practical introduction to the topic.’ – Nirbhay N. Singh, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Mindfulness

‘There are remarkable gifts found in this book as in all of Bhikkhu Anālayo’s writing. He is a deep practitioner and a world-renowned scholar who is able to read and compare the earliest Buddhist teachings in several ancient languages, and can bring a richness of understanding to these foundational texts. And more remarkably for a scholar, he doesn’t cling to fixed positions but shows us, so we can see for ourselves, the many useful perspectives found across these early texts.’ – Jack Kornfield, from the Foreword