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

John Yates, Matthew Immergut, Jeremy Graves · 12 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
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.
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All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this book.
Two pieces of advice:

- Getting easily distracted is normal. Don't set a goal of never getting distracted: it's unrealistic and counterproductive. I've spent hundreds of hours meditating, and still get distracted (albeit more briefly). Instead, feel good when you notice you're distracted. The goal is to train yourself to notice and return to the sensation sooner, with positive feedback.

- Don't try to block out everything except what you're meditating on. That should be your main focus, but you should let yourself be aware of other things in the background.

The Mind Illuminated has some good practical advice in the early chapters. I can't vouch for the later chapters.

The anxiety part of this sounds like something meditation could help with.

I've found this book (, at least the earlier stages to be quite helpful in regaining control of my thoughts.

Mar 24, 2020 · mleonhard on God Helmet
With persistence, you can do it for free at home. Here's a guide:

Several people in the thread have already recommended meditation. I’m going to join them.

If you’re already doing therapy, consider complementing it with meditation. Meditation, if done right, can be equivalent to years of therapy.

The benefits are great, and for your situation the most relevant are reduced/eliminated anxiety, more willpower, energy, clarity (to see through depression for example); but there many others.

However, there’s a catch: meditation is hard. It requires consistent effort and dedication, just like any practice involving a complex skill (e.g., going to the gym or swimming pool).

For a completely secular practice, I’d recommend “The Mind Illuminated” by John Yates [1], a neuroscientist and a master meditator, whose aim with the book was to create a modern manual for meditation by making old Buddhist teachings accessible to an average westerner. The book is a synthesis of those teachings complemented with both his experience as a master meditator /and/ as a neuroscience Ph.D. This means that along with detailed instructions on how to actually meditate the book contains theoretic chapters explaining in popular scientific terms how your brain works and what meditation has to do with it, by first introducing a simple model, and then gradually building upon it as you progress through the book and develop your skill.


Thanks. I will look in to it - sounds interesting
Oh, and you if you need a little more persuading or motivation you might want to check up on books by Sam Harris [1] and Michael A. Singer [2]. The first one is also a neuroscientist and a famous sceptic, and the second is a former programmer and a successful businessman. Personally, when I was in a similar place as you are now, I found that simply reading Singer’s book was a form of therapy.

[1] [2]

What I was talking about in the previous post is two topics. So, it depends what you're looking for.

There are tons of books and meditation courses. It depends what suits your style. eg, The Mind Illuminated is the most popular meditation book right now. There is even a subreddit dedicated to it. However, it is quite the read, guiding as one progresses, mirroring how a teacher would do it.

Culadasa, who made The Mind Illuminated, is working on another book that goes over the second topic I was diving into (like Noting Meditation). It is incomplete with no eta. It would be a 102 book for after one finishes The Mind Illuminated.

There are other resources on the second topic, but right now both topics are ideally taught with a teacher, especially the second topic, so progress can be aided and verified.

What goal do you have? I can possibly write a skinny as to what to look at and where to go to achieve that goal, including providing more resources.

Also, just in case you do not know CBT, with a good therapist, is, I believe, the only kind of therapy that works well on depression. CBT takes from the techniques in the topics above, and then boils them down into a light version that can be worked through at an accelerated rate.

I've been meditating for the last 2 years, and I've found many benefits. Stress reduction, better control of feelings, better understanding of self, and joy are just a few.

It's really simple to start out:

1) Devote 10 minutes of each day to meditation time. Early morning is best, as your mind is fresh and not as distracted.

2) Find a quiet/non-distracting place to sit in a comfortable position. Legs crossed on the floor or in a chair are fine. You want to keep your back straight to help keep from falling asleep.

3) Focus on the sensation of your breath, wherever it is strongest. Typically this is the tip of the nose, or in the nostril, but chest can work as well. Your mind will become distracted with work, worries, thoughts of food, etc. When this happens, congratulate yourself on noticing that it happened, and bring your attention back to your breath.

That's it! It blows my mind how developing concentration can have such a profound impact on your life.

Here are some good resources for those interested:

It's good to point out there are many different types of meditation, as some work better than others, depending on the individual. However, this article doesn't seem to be advocating Vipassana, rather, it states: "Meditation is all about being aware of how your body feels and the thoughts that go through your head without judging or getting caught up in them. Often, this is done by focusing on a certain part of your body, like the breath or your feet, legs, arms, hands and chest etc. At the end of the day, what you’re aiming for is to keep bringing your attention back to what you’re focusing on, everytime you notice your mind has drifted off."

The book is called The Mind Illuminated, and is an absolutely fantastic book on meditation. Super cheap too:

Meditate, do Cognitive Behavior Therapy, exercise, sleep better, eat better, and cultivate relationships with people. Generally, be more present.

Short book on meditation:

Longer book:

Also, try some guidelines to help you choose more intentionally when and how to analyze things. Is it no topic is worth thinking through all outcomes? Or, important topics are worth it, and they are x, y and z? Or, I can do that type of thinking only an hour a day, from 7-8pm? Once a week? A therapist and trial and error can help you figure out what works for you.

Have a counterfactual behavior that you'll do when you notice you're analyzing when you didn't intend to. E.g. if I notice I'm thinking through scenarios, I'll acknowledge that, then focus on my breath.

Second this recommendation, here's a link for further reviews and breakdowns of why this textbook is so useful:

I dabbled in meditation for years but it wasn't until this book that I was able to see the complete picture and why it's such an important area of study for all reflective minds, and start making real progress. There's so much snake oil out there regarding meditation. It has changed my life for the better in so many ways. It's also simply a great manual for how to approach learning just about anything in a happy and healthy way.

Fwiw, Culadasa (John Yates PhD) taught physiology and neuroscience before retiring and that's very much reflected in his approach to writing the book, using modern understanding of the brain. People think kids should start learning programming from a young age? Meditation as I understand it now is even more important! For personal growth and understanding, general awareness, EQ, and more...

Cannot strongly recommend enough "The Mind Illuminated" by John Yates.

It's been discussed on HN before (it's how I found it a few years ago) and breaks down meditation in a systematic way while relating the phenomena described in Buddhist texts to current psychological principles. This "moments of consciousness model" of the mind is discussed at length and a short answer to you question is yes, different sensory moments are integrated in "binding moments".

Yeah, I own it. "Binding moments" is why I asked that question :-).

I'm partly wondering if peoples' experience matches the book's description, and partly looking for more detail about what the actual experience is like than the book provides.

Would second the recommendation though: it's a great book.

Apr 15, 2018 · RickS on Vipassana for Hackers [pdf]
The above is an affiliate link, if you care about such things. Here's one that isn't:
For those interested in learning more, The Mind Illuminated is by far the best book I've come across on the topic. It's an extremely systematic college level manual for learning how to meditate. The author has a PhD in physiology, has been meditating for 40 years, taught neuroscience for years, and speaks Pali and Sanskrit, so he's able to read and interpret the original Buddhist texts. These combined allow him to teach with a unique depth and precision.

Take a look at the Amazon reviews, and ask yourself if you've ever seen anything so highly rated:

I hope you find it as valuable as I did :)

Frustratingly, you can't get the kindle version if you live in the UK (I actually live in the Netherlands, which Amazon doesn't operate in at all, but my account is from the UK). The kindle version even shows up on the US site until I log in.

EDIT: I tried to use (they do have a kindle store, just not regular Amazon), they have the kindle version of the book but when I log in after buying it I'm told it's not available in my country

It seems you solved the problem, but for the next time: You can add a U.S. address in your Amazon account (any random address will do) and set it as the primary address. Then buy the book, and right after switch the account back to your real address. I think I have even seen Amazon recommend this solution.
Email me (in my profile).
It's not in your profile
Thanks, fixed.
You have to put your email address in the About: box. The email: box on your profile is only seen by mods.
Whoops, thanks for that, fixed now.
I was just looking too, and it appears there's a separate listing for the kindle version:

You're a fucking hero
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