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Uncontrived Mindfulness: ending suffering through attention, curiosity and wisdom
'Uncontrived Mindfulness' is a fresh and comprehensive guide to awareness of how the mind shapes experience. The Buddha emphasized that happiness is found through understanding the mind rather than getting caught up in sense experience. This simple yet radical shift is key to a relaxed and uncontrived way of practising.
Freedom comes from uniting right view and mindfulness. A deep dive into the practice of exploring our experience as it happens, Vajradevi's emphasis is on cultivating wisdom, using the tools of attention, curiosity and discernment to recognize and see through the delusion that is causing our suffering. Vajradevi is a warm and insightful guide to this exploration, drawing on her intensive and wide-ranging practice of satipatthana meditation.
The clear explanations and instructions are amplified by Vajradevi's personal accounts, charting her uncompromising voyage into self-discovery. Guided meditations are included.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vajradevi grew up on the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England and met the Dharma at the age of 23 after a period of travelling in Australasia.
She was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1995 and has worked on various projects within Triratna including seven years spearheading Akashavana women’s ordination retreat centre in Spain, and four years as Centre Director at the Cambridge Triratna Buddhist Centre.
For the past twenty years she has been exploring and teaching meditation based on the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s primary teaching on mindfulness. To this end she spent a year in Myanmar on retreat with the Burmese teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya and several months in the US practising with Joseph Goldstein.
She is increasingly in demand in the UK and Europe leading retreats that teach mindfulness as a path to wisdom.
This is a lively and accessible overview of the transformative power of mindful awareness in the cultivation of a free and awakened life. It is clearly a distillation of many years of dedicated practice, and the writing is enlivened by personal glimpses into the author’s own journey as well as reflective exercises to help the reader directly connect with what is being described. If you’ve ever felt that your mindfulness practice was becoming somewhat ‘contrived’ – trying too hard, or over-striving for results – the guidance in these pages will support you in undoing that, based on a deep understanding of the mind and how its habits can lead us into suffering or toward release.
—Jenny Wilks, Insight Meditation teacher, Gaia House Retreat Centre, Devon
A wonderful book, written with that independence of mind characteristic of deep practitioners. Reading is like being taken into the author’s mind: just the tone reveals how what’s being described is affecting her.
—Kamalashila, meditation teacher and author of Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination and Insight
Uncontrived Mindfulness is a treasure for anyone interested in living a mindful and wise life. Vajradevi has the ability to translate the Buddha's classical teachings on mindfulness and wisdom into clear and practical instructions for both formal meditation and daily life. She offers her guidance, which is clearly based in her own deep and long experience, with such accessible examples and good humour that one finds it easy to trust and follow them… and come to recognize for oneself that uncontrived mindfulness is natural and universal. Many of her descriptions of uncontrived mindfulness, and the wisdom and freedom that naturally arise with it, are drawn from her own experiences in meditation and in daily life. The result, for me, was a deepening of the realization that mindfulness and wisdom are about how we live, and that this is supported by our formal meditation practice. I can recommend this book both for those in the early days of learning to recognize and support uncontrived mindfulness, as well as for anyone who would like to refresh their approach to practice. Vajradevi reminds us of the joy that arises naturally as we relax into steady mindfulness and allow ourselves to recognize the wisdom of the Buddha.
—Carol Wilson, Guiding Teacher of IMS
Vajradevi’s approach to satipatthana – mindfulness and meditation – is both refreshing and distinct. There are already many excellent books going into the details of the Satipatthana Sutta and the technicalities of the original Pali terminology, and a vast plethora of general books about mindfulness. Vajradevi takes us straight into the experiential core to which these teachings are pointing. This is mindfulness as the direct way to awakening from the delusions which produce our suffering. “McMindfulness” it is definitely not! Her own substantial practice, together with the benefits of having studied satipatthana with some very good teachers, shines through. It makes a huge difference to realise that effective mindfulness practice does not have to be constantly effortful and contrived. Vajradevi points us to the awareness that is already naturally present; hence, “uncontrived mindfulness”. As I’ve found out myself, recognising this truly does make all the difference to practice. The simple, lucid style, personal stories and practical exercises make this into an extraordinarily hands-on and helpful book, for new and experienced meditators alike.
—Tejananda John Wakeman, Chair, Vajraloka meditation retreat centre, North Wales
Vajradevi gives incredibly relevant and real examples which show us that dedicating ourselves to mindfulness does not mean being cut off from life or living. I love reading the stories she weaves in to explain her journey in mindfulness and the thoughtful connections she then makes with many of our common doubts or questions about mindfulness practice, the journey and its effects; a true friend to everyone who is practising or wishes to approach the practice. Uncontrived Mindfulness really helps to de-mystify meditation and mindfulness in a thorough, relevant way that is light and even humorous! Vajradevi demonstrates through every page that mindfulness can be in every or any moment, hence uncontrived. Just open to any chapter or page and find the fascinating ways that our ordinary or thoughtful moments can all be part of mindfulness practice.
—Ma Thet, translator for Sayadaw U Tejaniya
Vajradevi is a practitioner who shares her own experience of practising mindfulness simply and clearly. She makes traditional concepts accessible because she knows them from the inside, and Uncontrived Mindfulness is full of stories of how Vajradevi has learned to be mindful of her own life. The uncontrived relaxation of her writing matches her message that mindfulness isn’t a technique or an achievement so much as a ‘wise involvement with experiences’ that is both focused and relaxed.
—Vishvapani Blomfield, author of Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One