The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science

Author: Jeremy Graves, Matthew Immergut, Culadasa John Yates
All Reddit 135
This Year Reddit 40
This Month Reddit 9


by mistermann   2017-10-14
Do you consider this book to be snake oil?

by Diane_Horseman   2017-08-19

It's cool that you're motivated to get deeper into meditation. I've been in the meditation game for a while so perhaps I can give you some tips.

First, some advice about the experience you describe in your post. My best guess would be that you entered a state known as "jhana," which is essentially a state of focus so intense that normal perceptions fade and are replaced with pleasant, distorted sensations and feelings of bliss and love. Such a state is a positive feedback loop because the new sensations are usually so interesting that they continue to hold the attention and thus increase the flow of jhana. Such a state is possible to stumble into without much meditation experience and without really knowing what's going on, as you describe. However, with more training you can learn to reach this state on command with little effort and even control its intensity. I would advise you to consider the state that you entered to be a taste of what's to come, but not to get to attached to re-experiencing it as you may not be able to consistently.

Next, you may ask "where do I go from here?" The practices you describe doing will get you into deeper meditation states by simply continuing to do them consistently. However, it's possible to train your mind more efficiently by using methods which tailor themselves specifically to where you are along the meditation path in terms of skill level and training. Many people, and I see some in this thread, will say that using such practices which appear progress-oriented or even goal-oriented defeats the point of meditation. There is some truth to this if the practices are misinterpreted, but the point is not to get attached to a sense of progress but simply to use the right methods for wherever you are in the present.

My favorite book detailing these types of practices is The Mind Illuminated . This is by far the best book I would recommend for deepening your practice if you are committed to meditating consistently, as you seem to be.

by under_the_pressure   2017-08-19

You don't need a guru. Read The Mind Illuminated and do the practices daily.

by dharmagraha   2017-08-19

There's a lot of information in the FAQ, but this is the core part for starting a basic practice:

> Set a timer for your desired length of meditation.
> Sit upright on a chair, cushion or rolled up towel, with your back straight.
> Close your eyes. Breathe through your nose.
> As your breath rises and falls, bring your mind gently to the feeling of the air moving in and out around the tips of your nostrils. Keep your mind there.
> As you do this, other thoughts and feelings will arise. > > Maybe your foot itches. Maybe you've got something you want to do immediately after you get up, or two days from now and it keeps coming to mind. Doesn't matter. > > Note these thoughts and feelings as they come up, try to avoid judging them as good or bad, just notice they happened and gently come back to your breath.

I can see a couple of different parts of this that could be confusing. But it depends on what you mean by "confusing."

If it's that the instructions as a whole don't make sense, then it might be better to try guided meditations instead. The Headspace app is great and has a free tier. I've also heard good things about Calm, but I've never used it myself. Guided meditations are a great way to get into meditation, since the recording tells you exactly what to do and when.

If it's that the instructions seem vague or that certain terms don't make sense, then a more specific method can help. Disclaimer, these will involve reading a lot more than the simple instructions above. All of these are free and available online:

  • The Basic Method of Meditation (free online) is a short pamphlet by Ajahn Brahm, a Western monk in the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism. I haven't used this, but I've heard that Ajahn Brahm is an exceptional meditation teacher, and this pamphlet is a quick read at only 23 pages.
  • Mindfulness in Plain English (free online) is a classic and has an engaging style that makes it easy to read. It's what I used to start meditating, and I know of a lot of people that really love it. Personally, I found that certain terms and concepts weren't as clearly stated as I would have liked. Bhante Gunaratana is also part of the Theravada tradition, and he has a monastery in West Virginia.
  • With Each and Every Breath (free online) is great as well. It's by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, another monk in the Thai Forest tradition. The book is longer and perhaps more technical than Mindfulness in Plain English, but I find the style of it easier for me to understand.

Another book, and the one I use for my main practice, is The Mind Illuminated , which is longer than all of these and even more technical. Its style is more secular and pragmatic, if those qualities appeal to you. The author also has a PhD. in neuroscience and often connects meditative concepts to certain activities in the brain. You'll have to buy this one, but please read the critical reviews before you do, so you can get a sense of whether this book will be useful for you. One of the major complaints about the book is that it can be very technical.

These books are roughly in order from least to most detailed. That doesn't mean the most/least detailed one is best, just that that's how they're written.

by under_the_pressure   2017-08-19

Insight Timer is a great app and it's free. The only functions I want are a timer and stats and it handles those functions extremely well, and there are guided meditations available, but I don't use those. Following the instructions in The Mind Illuminated is what got me finally into a meditation practice after years of vaguely wanting to. Every other method just felt like sinking into quicksand of abstraction.

by pornpompornpomporn   2017-08-19

/r/meditation has good resources. they often recommend this book

by under_the_pressure   2017-08-19

Insight Timer is better (and free). Also (serious) The Mind Illuminated

by TamSanh   2017-08-19

If you're interested in learning more about meditation practices, check out The Mind Illuminated , which is an excellent book that you can use to learn Buddhist meditation on your own. Once that is established, it should not matter as much where you live (who you associate with matters more, but that's another story).

by gcross   2017-08-19

I think you would enjoy reading The Mind Illuminated by Culdasa as it gives you metrics you can use to gauge how much progress you are making at a given stage on the meditative path (as well as an overview you can use to figure out where you are currently at) and instructions on the skills you need to work on at that stage in order to make progress. It also has a lot of interesting material on models of the mind and of consciousness.

I can't recommend this book enough because it brought a clarity to my practice that I was sorely in need of, and it sounds like you might be looking for something similar.

by Th334   2017-08-19

I think you mean that you cannon not engage with your thoughts and emotions when you observe them. This is perfectly normal as well. It's not typically something you're expected to be able to do consistently in daily life without significant training. :) You should try to do this during your meditations though.

The meditation manual I'm using has a very useful chapter on how to establish a daily practice. From my memory:

  • You have to practice every day to maintain and develop your skill, even if it is for 10 minutes. Ideally and eventually you're looking for at least one 45-minute practice a day (but give it time, it will be easier for you to do with more experience).

  • You cannot fit a dedicated practice into your "free time". You must make time for it. Give it higher priority and fit your other tasks around it. This is very important. If you let meditation compete with all the other tasks and desires you have, it just won't happen.

  • Fixed schedule is very helpful. For example, I meditate first thing every morning. Beware thought that middays and late evenings are typically harder because your mind is tired / ready for sleep. Same with right after you've had a meal.

  • "Just do it" is the antidote to procrastination. Do it first, then do everything else. Just make yourself get into your meditation chair/cushion, set an intention to meditate diligently, and the results will happen.

  • Boost your motivation before every sit by reminding yourself why you're doing this. You can have different reasons to meditate from day to day.

  • Remember that creating a daily practice is the most difficult and the most important step. You will really have accomplished something once you're able not to miss a single day, and this will have the greatest effect on everything else you do in the long-term.