Advice Not Given Summary By Mark Epstein

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Advice Not Given (2018) is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about the practice of meditation.

Author Mark Epstein is an experienced psychiatrist who can firsthand attest to its therapeutic benefits, and he provides readers with a practical approach to meditation in this book.

He dispels common misconceptions surrounding the practice and offers helpful clinical examples that demonstrate just how beneficial meditation can be for our mental health.

With Advice Not Given, readers are sure to gain a clearer understanding of what meditation is and how it works, as well as its therapeutic potential.

Advice Not Given

Book Name: Advice Not Given (A Guide to Getting Over Yourself)

Author(s): Mark Epstein

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 21 Minutes

Categories: Mindfulness & Happiness

Author Bio

Mark Epstein is a renowned psychiatrist based in New York City.

His professional background has fueled his interest in the relationship between psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation practices, inspiring him to write many works exploring this topic.

One of his most notable books is "Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself," which he wrote in 2019.

It interweaves thoughtful reflections on Buddhism and psychotherapy to provide readers with helpful advice for transforming their lives.

Dr. Epstein's other noteworthy titles include The Trauma of Everyday Life (2013).

How Meditation Can Be as Beneficial as Therapy – and It’s Free!


Mark Epstein, a trained and licensed psychotherapist, has a unique perspective on the tremendous benefits of meditation.

Drawing from his experience in both the fields of psychotherapy and meditation, he shares his invaluable advice on how people can deal with life’s stress without being weighed down by it.

Epstein explains that meditation can not only help you be more present and less distracted, but also provide insight into your behaviors and relationships.

It can even mirror visits to a shrink – except for the minor fact that it’s free!

In his book Advice Not Given, Epstein serves as an experienced guide to the world of mindfulness and helps you understand why it’s important not to overdo it.

He further provides examples on how to break free from obsessive thoughts and gain insight on one’s past through the practice of mediation.

So if you want leadership from a seasoned psychotherapist on how to use meditation as a tool to manage anxiety, then Advice Not Given is the book for you.

How We Can Train Our Minds to Be Present in the Here and Now with Sound Meditation

Living in the present moment is the key to meditation.

Unfortunately, for many of us it can be nearly impossible to just sit and not ruminate over our regrets or worries about the future.

It’s all too easy for our minds to drift towards obsessing over tasks we have to do by the end of the week, or unresolved issues from a previous encounter.

This is because our brains prefer familiarity: it’s new and unpredictable to live in the present moment, while past issues or future concerns provide it with a reliable mental terrain that’s easier to occupy.

The good news is that with practice, you can get your brain accustomed to living in the present.

This is beneficial because not only will you feel less stressed but also improved health due to a healthier immune system.

To begin retraining your mind, sound meditation offers an ideal starting point.

You simply need to find a quiet spot where you’re comfortable and close your eyes – then focus on sounds surrounding you without interpreting them further or constructing scenarios in your head such as ‘that’s the sound of a baby crying.’ With this simple practice, you’ll soon be able to better control your thoughts and more effectively embrace life as it comes.

Meditation: More Than Just an Escape from Life’s Problems

Many people mistakenly think of meditation as a way to get away from life’s realities and obligations – a practice used to escape from their problems.

However, the advice that is given in Jack Engler’s book, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself, shows us that this could not be further from the truth.

In the book, Engler recounts his experience with Guru Munindrana in India who showed him that meditation is not an activity separate from our day-to-day lives.

It’s actually a way of engaging with them even if they are unpleasant situations.

Meditating helps us become mindful of our current moment – thus bringing clarity and focus into our lives and helping us live more fully in it.

So essentially, meditation isn’t a tool we use to avoid life’s problems; instead, it should be seen as an effective way for embracing the present moment and allowing ourselves the opportunity for true growth.

No matter what you may be going through in life — whether it be a difficult relationship or taking on a new job — meditation can help you cope with any challenge by having you focus all your energy on being mindful and living truthfully in the present moment.

Mindfulness Is Beneficial, But Don’t Get Obsessed: Let It Go So You Can Move on to the Next Technique


Mindfulness is an extremely useful form of meditation, offering many wonderful benefits.

It can help us to manage stress, improve our awareness and even open up to higher states of consciousness.

That’s why it has grown in popularity in recent years and been embraced by celebrities like Emma Watson!

However, while mindfulness is great, it’s best not to overdo it – this isn’t always recognized in the popular culture that masks itself around mindfulness.

Meditation should be approached like a farmer approaching his own land; before harvest he must pay close attention to his cattle grazing, but once he’s collected the harvest he can relax.

Mindfulness serves as an excellent entrance for those who want to learn other, deeper forms of meditation too: it’s often thought of as the ‘appetizer’ so that we may then move onto advanced techniques freely and without attachment.

Or, you could think of it as a raft taking you across a river – but when you’ve reached the other side you don’t need to keep hold of it any longer.

You can simply let go and continue your journey on!

The Benefits of Concentration Meditation: Reducing Stress, Improving Health, and More

Concentration meditation is a great way to help you live a less stressful life.

It’s not just some spiritual or esoteric exercise: it’s simply an exercise in concentration.

To practice it, find somewhere quiet to sit down – ideally in the morning – and focus on one thing only, like your breathing or a short sound such as a metronome.

It may be challenging at first, but don’t worry if your mind starts to stray.

Just calmly bring your attention back to the breathing.

Start by meditating for five to ten minutes every day and work your way up to an hour, if you can.

The rewards of this practice are scientifically proven, and will leave you with a relaxed body state and improved digestion, among other things.

Studies have also shown that it helps people like those undergoing PET scans stay calmer during their tests.

In sum, concentration meditation is an invaluable tool for removing the impurities of daily life and living more peacefully!

How Meditation and Psychotherapy Can Work Hand in Hand to Help Us Heal.

Meditation and Psychotherapy

When it comes to healing, meditation and psychotherapy have much more in common than most people realize.

Both practices place a lot of importance on understanding thoughts and actions, recognizing their source and changing them for the better.

Meditation gives us a chance to take a closer look at our thought patterns so that we can gain insight into why certain emotions may arise and how to healthily react to them.

It also helps us identify negative thought patterns and flip them around so that they are productive rather than destructive.

For example, if you notice yourself thinking “I’m unfaithful and weak” you can use meditation to understand where this thought originated from and see it for what it truly is.

By recognizing these thoughts, we might instead think: “I acted deceitfully because I was scared of the consequences”

This ability to reflect on your own beliefs is similar to what happens during psychotherapy sessions, making meditation an incredibly helpful tool for mental well-being.

Shift Your Focus From Anxious Thoughts to Consciousness for Peace and Calm

Meditation can be a very powerful tool when it comes to shifting and pacifying your focus, and dealing with obsessive thoughts.

This is exemplified in the parable about Huike and the Bodhidharma.

When Huike asked for help, the teacher asked to see his troubled mind, but Huike replied that he couldn’t take hold of it.

The Teacher then told him “Now your mind is pacified.”

This shows how meditation can help to shift our focus away from cognitive thinking and over-analyzing, instead allowing us to draw our attention back to consciousness where we can experience peace and stillness.

The same advice was accepted by Dr. Mark Epstein’s elderly male client who suffered from shameful obsessive thoughts involving women.

Rather than simply repressing them or trying to let them go, Dr. Epstein suggested that his patient stop avoiding interaction with women altogether, so that he could shift his focus away from his analytical mind onto their actual physical beings; thus reducing his obsessive thoughts significantly.

All in all, meditation provides us with valuable techniques on how we are able to calm an anxious mind as well as cope with life’s anxieties and intrusive thoughts in an effective manner.

Meditation Helps Us Identify Root Causes of Conflict and Find Compassion for Loved Ones

Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool that can provide a calm space to help you gain clarity and see the real motivations behind relationship conflicts.

Take Kate, one of Epstein’s clients, as an example.

She was having problems in her relationship with her partner due to messiness in the house.

After meditating, she realized it wasn’t just about the mess – she felt like her partner didn’t care enough about what she wanted.

Thanks to meditation, Kate could keep things in perspective and accept that even though her desire for tidiness was reasonable, her partner was simply messier than she was, and that was OK.

Meditation enables you to observe your thoughts, feelings and motivations more clearly in order to better understand why disagreements arise between loved ones so that you can learn how to let go of things you cannot change in order to coexist happily.

Meditation Can Help Us Unlearn Misconceptions About the World and Ourselves


Meditation provides an effective way to process our thoughts and feelings about difficult or traumatic experiences.

It can help us break free of long-held misconceptions that have become distorted over time, giving us new perspective on the past.

This was certainly true for one of Mark Epstein’s patients, Martha, who had a misunderstanding with her father that she believed was directly related to a sexual misadventure when she was just eleven years old.

With the help of meditation, Martha was able to get rid of her lingering sense of shame and disgust towards sexuality.

As she practiced more often, it became easier for her to recognize when her thoughts were not in line with reality.

Through this practice, Martha slowly gained clarity into what actually happened during that incident with her father – realizing that he had distanced himself from his daughter because he was uncomfortable with the idea of her going through puberty – and not because she had done something wrong.

The power of meditation cannot be underestimated when it comes to freeing ourselves from our own personal misconceptions about events or people in our lives.

With regular practice, you can gain access to a broader perspective which can open you up to new understanding about yourself and your relationships – allowing for greater freedom and insight into life’s challenges.

Wrap Up

The Advice Not Given book by Mark Epstein is a great starting point into the world of meditation and its many benefits.

His main argument is that meditation should be seen as an additional practice to psychology, as it helps with mental health improvement in many ways.

By engaging in regular meditation, people can gain insight on their thoughts and behaviours more honestly and deeply.

This can result in an improved self-esteem and development of healthier relationships.

It can also help ease obsessive thinking.

The key advice for successful meditating was to not try too hard, allowing the body its time to adjust.

Accept irregularities or a wandering mind with no effort to control them; simply take note of them before returning gently back to focus.

Ultimately, this book provided useful information on how mediation can provide psychological healing and growth, paving the way for healthier mindsets in our lives.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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