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Publisher's Summary

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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  • Overall
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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
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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
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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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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.

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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.

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Touchingly Human, Sensitive, Funny Yet Humane

Where does Advice Not Given rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I rarely write reviews but I was moved to write one in this case. I am not sure where I first saw an excerpt that got my attention, and I almost didn't buy since I am not always eager to pick up 'self-help' books, but I am so glad I did. It was definitely not a 'self-help' book. Yet it was informative, gave some great food for thought and the illustrative stories really carried the points he was trying to make. His approach created space for thoughtfulness and consideration... in part because his treatment of the material was very gentle and compassionate. Well worth the listen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Helpful

I found the author’s information and knowledge helpful and thought provoking. I would recommend as a good read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Framework

Although this book does not offer a formula for becoming aware of, and interacting with ones own ego, Mark does certainly offer a compelling framework for approaching ones own relationship with oneself, and from there, the world.