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

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A revolutionary, science-based approach to meditation from a neuroscientist turned meditation master, The Mind Illuminated is an accessible, step-by-step toolkit for anyone looking to start—or improve—their daily meditation practice.

The book that bestselling meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg raves “brings the path of meditation to life,” The Mind Illuminated is the first how-to meditation guide from a neuroscientist who is also an acclaimed meditation master. This innovative book offers a 10-stage program that is both deeply grounded in ancient spiritual teachings about mindfulness and holistic health, and also draws from the latest brain science to provide a roadmap for anyone interested in achieving the benefits of mindfulness. Dr. John Yates offers a new and fascinating model of how the mind works, including steps to overcome mind wandering and dullness, extending your attention span while meditating, and subduing subtle distractions.

This groundbreaking manual provides illustrations and charts to help you work through each stage of the process, offering tools that work across all types of meditation practices. The Mind Illuminated is an essential read, whether you are a beginner wanting to establish your practice or a seasoned veteran ready to master the deepest state of peace and mindfulness.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (January 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501156985
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501156984
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds

Customer Reviews

Guidebook for Changing Your Life

 on June 19, 2016
By Harvester
In trying to write a proper review for this book, it’s first worth noting that this stands as a masterpiece of knowledge that has quite literally changed my life. It’s not often that I’ll read a book twice, but for this one I’m certain I’ll be re-reading it for years to come. To be fair, I’ve not read many other books in this area, but I’m sure that I’ve somehow stumbled onto one of the best in its class.

In a league of its own

 on September 11, 2015
By K Knox
The subtitle here, “A Complete Meditation Guide,” understates this astonishing book’s comprehensiveness and profundity by half. This is a 475 page long magnum opus that’s exponentially more useful than all of the previous guides to meditation I’ve read (and I’ve read plenty, having been involved in Buddhist study and practice since the early 1970’s).

This book is the best instruction book on buddhistic meditation I have read since …

 on December 29, 2015
By reviewer1
This book is the best instruction book on buddhistic meditation I have read since Daniel Ingram’s `mastering the core teachings of the buddha’. However, Culadasa’s book lacks the controversy surrounding the latter one. His book does not really deal with Buddhist orthodoxy but is a very precise and motivating manual how to meditate and how to achieve the higher meditation states that have been described over and over again in the oldest Buddhist literature (Pali canon and Visuddhimagga). These achievements are well-known within the Theravada literature and modern practice and can be achieved by proper practice (never withstanding the popular new wave/zen light misconception that the practice doesn’t really matter and that there is nothing to be accomplished). I have never read a better and to-the-point manual how to start a dedicated meditation practice and how to actually do any relevant meditation exercise in a way that it leads to results. The book is extremely good in combining classical meditation instructions with the right mind set for motivation and positive reinforcement of the practice. If one has a decent background in some meditation discipline and some knowledge of the maps of what might happen with dedicated practice, then this book is in my opinion the only book one needs, together with actually doing the practice, to really get started and get a long way to achieve certain states and insights that can result from meditation. This is the one and only Dharma book you want to take to an inhabited island for a long time.

Purposeful practice applied to meditation

 on October 8, 2016
By Jack Island
I hastened to review this book after seeing the overwhelmingly positive reviews. Many books on spirituality enjoy something of an equivalent to grade inflation. Gratitude and reciprocity go together, sometimes to the detriment of a more objective, and useful review.

My Practice has Flourished Since Reading this Book.

 on April 13, 2016
By Yvonne
I was very hesitant to buy yet another book on meditation. I passed on this book several times over the past months. Now, not only have I read the book, which runs about 460 pages (not counting the table of contents and index) in its entirety, but I am about 100 pages into a second reading.

changed my life

 on November 29, 2017
By Namafe
This book got me back on my cushion and turned my practice upside down in the most positive way possible. I’ve been meditating on and off for about 10 years, but sooner or later always burning out on the effort to get will power to reign in my unruly, wandering mind. My yoga teacher training required daily meditation which I performed dutifully but soon abandoned after I got my certification. In the past I understood mediation as a brain or head exercise while my body would sit in stillness. I wasn’t aware that my expectations of blending out all distractions and achieving total absorption were feeding into my ever growing tension and agitation till the practice grew into an intolerable chore .

A Scientific Milestone and Masterpiece

 on April 12, 2018
By P. Steele
It may sound strange, but this is a meditation book that I would recommend even to people who have no intention of ever meditating:

Sit, stay… enjoy! –> Thank You!

 on December 12, 2016
By Samyama
This has answered questions that I’ve been exploring for 27 years including how best to use my meditation time. Culadasa’s guide is INDISPENSABLE in demystifying the signal-to-noise ratio of seated practice. He discloses how to effectively deal with the gap that seemed to exist between the real & ideal with steps that are simple, easy-to-follow & effective. I’m filled with enthusiasm & enormous gratitude to be able to practice with such clarity. This guide has made an immediate & tangible impact on the *quality*, consistency & quantity of my practice. The best part is that I’m able to sit on the cushion & stay for extended periods now. I refer back to this book again & again, as other reviewers have said –> read, reread & rereread. It’s a pleasure to do so. I’m not sure that what I was doing before was entirely meditation–even though I did my best. Now, rather than by sheer force of will, I’m able to use the momentum ignited by Culadasa to fuel my attention & awareness. I daresay I’m enjoying meditation–though I’m sure there will be a range of experiences ahead along with a sine-wave type learning curve. I keep updating this review because the process is evoking so transformation. I feel blessed every day. Since discovering this book I’ve cleared away many books from the bookshelf. Meditation is one of my favorite subjects & I’ve been a long-time student. This volume clarifies many things (known & unknown–as others have noted as well). The bottom line is that I was able to clear/donate so many books because now I’m able to *practice* rather than second-guess myself, wondering if I’m doing it right. Sidenote: I also recommend “The Attention Revolution” by Wallace as an excellent counterpart (I especially find the audio version helpful). Both books shine light on perhaps the *most* important question: What allows real transformation to take place? (I also like what Einstein posed as the most important question we can ask ourselves: “Is the Universe a friendly place or not?”) This book is such a gift. I trust this path & I’m grateful it found me. I’m overcome with relief, appreciation & delight. Thank You Culadasa & best wishes to all on your chosen path!


 on March 30, 2017
By Table_for_5
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide is just that — a COMPLETE meditation guide. This book is a game changer for meditators, whether just beginning or those with years of experience and all points between. The book demystifies meditation and reveals it for what it is: training of the mind so the it can become unified and able to penetrate the nature of reality in the now. Dr. Yates comprehensively details the ten stages of meditation, clearly delineating the goals for each stage, the obstacles one will encounter in each stage, the mitigating practices to navigate through the obstacles, the states the mind can expect to experience with each stage, and the markers that one has successfully mastered each particular stage.

Wow, at age 67, this is the book I’ve looked for all my life.

 on February 9, 2018
Wow, at age 67, this is the book I’ve looked for all my life. I’ve tried to get into meditation dozens of times over the years, I’ve read countless books, gone to lectures and workshops, tried to establish a regular practice, and ultimately experienced frustration at never being able to quite “get it.” I started again several months ago — dedicated, diligent, and trying all the things I had heard in my previous attempts. While I was able to stick with a daily practice, I could feel my resolve slowly evaporating into frustration with each passing session. Then, a relative mentioned this book and how much it had helped her. I got a copy and feel like I have finally found the path. The book is well-written, clear in its instructions, and extremely encouraging. It has moved me further along than anything I have ever tried. Culadasa outlines ten stages from beginner to advanced — I was able to quickly identify my stage, begin applying his instruction, and am thrilled with my progress. I finally feel like I’m “getting it,” because I’m actually experiencing changes in my attention, the stability of my awareness, and a more continuous focus on the meditation object. I’ve read a few negative reviews of this book that seem to suggest the reviewers were reading through the book — I don’t see this as a book to read through, rather one to work through. The first quarter of my copy is underlined, highlighted, and full of marginalia. I’ll read through a section, work with the material until I feel I’ve internalized it, then read another 20 or so pages and start working on that piece. One of the biggest helps so far is his advice on dealing with the hinderances, the distractions, and self-pralazing doubt. I’m finally understanding how much attitude can play into early progress and that has done wonders. I highly recommend this book — its value greatly exceeds its modest cover price…