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Publisher's Summary

"Most people will never find a great psychiatrist or a great Buddhist teacher, but Mark Epstein is both, and the wisdom he imparts in Advice Not Given is an act of generosity and compassion. The book is a tonic for the ailments of our time." (Ann Patchett, New York Times best-selling author of Commonwealth)

Our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work to be bigger, better, smarter, and more in control, is one affliction we all share. And while our ego claims to have our best interests at heart, in its never-ending pursuit of attention and power, it sabotages the very goals it sets to achieve. In Advice Not Given, renowned psychiatrist and author Dr. Mark Epstein presents a how-to guide rooted in two traditions, Buddhism and Western psychotherapy, devoted to maximizing the human potential for living a better life. 

Our ego, and its accompanying sense of nagging self-doubt as we work to be bigger, better, smarter, and more in control, is one affliction we all share. And, while our ego claims to have our best interests at heart, in its never-ending pursuit of attention and power, it sabotages the very goals it sets to achieve. In Advice Not Given, Dr. Mark Epstein reveals how Buddhism and Western psychotherapy, two traditions that developed in entirely different times and places and, until recently, had nothing to do with each other, both identify the ego as the limiting factor in our well-being, and both come to the same conclusion: When we give the ego free reign, we suffer; but when it learns to let go, we are free. 

With great insight, and in a deeply personal style, Epstein offers listeners a how-to guide that refuses a quick fix, grounded in two traditions devoted to maximizing the human potential for living a better life. Using the Eightfold Path, eight areas of self-reflection that Buddhists believe necessary for enlightenment, as his scaffolding, Epstein looks back productively on his own experience and that of his patients. While the ideas of the Eightfold Path are as old as Buddhism itself, when informed by the sensibility of Western psychotherapy, they become something more: a road map for spiritual and psychological growth, a way of dealing with the intractable problem of the ego. Breaking down the wall between East and West, Epstein brings a Buddhist sensibility to therapy and a therapist's practicality to Buddhism. Speaking clearly and directly, he offers a rethinking of mindfulness that encourages people to be more watchful of their ego, an idea with a strong foothold in Buddhism but now for the first time applied in the context of psychotherapy. 

Our ego is at once our biggest obstacle and our greatest hope. We can be at its mercy or we can learn to mold it. Completely unique and practical, Epstein's advice can be used by all - each in his or her own way - and will provide wise counsel in a confusing world. After all, as he says, "Our egos can use all the help they can get." 

©2018 Mark Epstein (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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    3 out of 5 stars

An author's personal reflections

I started the book hoping that it would talk more specifically about the relationship / integration between Buddhist practices and Western psychology in practical ways. There are some very good nuggets here and there, but they are scattered among a lot of the author's personal reflections, journey, etc., which, given what I was hoping to hear, was too high an investment for the return. In terms of the narration, the author reads his own book here. While I don't doubt that his voice and manner are excellent in a counseling setting, I found it difficult at times to stay engaged.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • RC
  • 01-25-18

Insight

Mark gives solid life advice in this book. Advice or perspective that allowed me in some ways to break free from my own expectations of mediation, to become a better brother, uncle, lover, son, and much more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

This book can actually change your view

Mark Epstein's view of eight fold path and his translation of the word "sama" as being "equal, just, or balanced" as opposed to "correct" can actually change the outlook of the eight fold path and Buddhism for the beginner. His use of personal experiences to explain each aspect really help to drive things home. There are a lot of things you can miss if you only half listen to this book or start listening with pre conceived notions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Insightful

I enjoyed this insightful book immensely. I plan to listen again. The reading for me was soothing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Olivia
  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, US
  • 10-28-18

Very well presented

Covers many relevant topics. Narration is clear and soothing. The book made the subject matter easy easy to understand.

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I even sent a copy to my therapist.

Really brilliant. Helps me connect my therapy with my meditation practice. I even sent a copy to my therapist so she could keep up.

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    3 out of 5 stars

So What Next?

This book's main theme seemed to be finding yourself using Buddhist principles . The author talked too much about himself. Yes, there were case histories of different people but nothing that I feel the average joe blow could relate to. Left me with feeling ... so after all that now what?

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If I was a therapist looking for new insights...

I felt like this book was meant more for therapists looking for new ways to connect to their patients. I don't want to leave the impression that is wasn't insightful to those seeking understanding of how buddhism and therapy can coexist, it just feels as though the book was written for the writers colleagues then for his patients. However, I'd still recommend to anyone who's curious.

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Like a good fríend

That brings about truth, a sense of quiet comfort you want to meet again and again.

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excellent read

definitely going to listen to this a few more times, gave me much needed insights.