[Book review] The Mind Illuminated

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science by Culadasa (John Yates)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I found this book, I had been meditating for four years, mostly by using (subscribing to) the Headspace app. Like other meditation apps, Headspace guides you aurally as you meditate. It also offers many “types” of meditation, such as stress relief meditation and getting to sleep.

I always had a nagging question on how to get better at meditating. I think meditation is a skill that you learn and practice to get better. While I liked Headspace when I began meditating, it didn't help me get better.

The Mind Illuminated is an amazing book if you're serious about meditating. It is a tome of more than 500 pages — I didn't know there was that much to talk about meditation! Usually, when you ask someone about how to meditate, they will tell you to just sit down, stay still, and breathe.

Well, it turns out there are many layers to peel in meditation. While the book is thick, it is full of substance and easy to read. It breaks down how the mind works so that we know what to “control” when meditating. The book is fully accurate in describing what's going on in my head as I meditate. I feel that the authors have deep expertise in meditation and neuroscience.

The book offers ten levels of meditation, and for each level, there are different areas to focus on. I find these levels extremely helpful for me to track my progress as I build up my skills. For once in my meditation journey, I know where I stand, and I know what to do to get better.

Headspace, Calm, and other meditation apps are fine for beginners. They are subscription-based and therefore focused on generating new content to keep subscribers paying. They also want their content to be generic and appeal to the masses. If your goal is to get better at meditating and leave the generic masses, you can't do it by subscribing to meditation apps. Also, apps subscriptions are expensive in the long term. This book, on the other hand, is a one-time purchase that keeps on giving. It is a comprehensive reference that you can go back to again and again.

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