Joseph Goldstein is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where he is one of the resident guiding teachers. He is the author of A Heart Full of Peace and One Dharma and has coauthored books with Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield. Goldstein has studied and practiced meditation since 1967 under the guidance of eminent teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet. He lectures and gives retreats around the world. He is profiled in S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers Project. You can visit him at

In the 1950s mindfulness was a lonely kid on the block. He started to come into his own over the past 20 years thanks to the proliferation of Buddhist teachers and the large numbers of people going on meditation retreats. Now mindfulness is the most popular kid, and his presence and influence in our everyday activities, work, and relationships is awesome.

Goldstein centers this ambitious book on the Satipatthana Sutta, Buddha's discourse on the four foundations of mindfulness, but he also gives himself the freedom to range freely as he explores this gateway to wisdom. According to the author, the most common understanding of mindfulness is that of "present-moment awareness, presence of mind, wakefulness." Mindfulness also balances the spiritual faculties, acts as the guardian of the sense doors, and protects the mind from unskillful thoughts and emotions.

The rest of the book covers mindfulness of the body, feelings, the five hindrances, the five aggregates of clinging, the six sense spheres, the seven factors of awakening, the four noble truths, and the noble eightfold path — the wisdom factors, the morality factors, and the concentration factors.

Along the way Goldstein has some very interesting things to say about impermanence, fostering empathetic joy, judging one's own progress on the path, discerning what is skillful and what is not, the five grades of rapture, the role of calm on the way to awakening, equanimity as a quality of balance, ways to practice renunciation, and the limitless field of compassion.