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Not Quite Nirvana

The book is a memoir of how a skeptical, fast-talking New Yorker became Thich Nhat Hanh's editor, turned forty, realized she was aging, and slowly and reluctantly started to absorb mindfulness practice and grow up. Scenes with Thich Nhat Hanh and the author's two vividly exuberant older parents, illustrate how the author adapts mindfulness techniques for the busyness of her life, without losing her edge. With honest and vivid stories about dealing with difficult relationships with family members, death, illness, vanity, exhaustion, and creating a safety net of joy, the author explores and offers guidance for three key mindfulness practices: Knowing When You're Available and When You're Not; Full-Attachment Living; and Interbeing (Other People are Not a Hobby). This book is designed for adults who are new to mindfulness practice, Buddhism, curious skeptics, people familiar with the practice who want a personal story, and those interested in memoir.
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About the Author

Rachel Neumann is a Bay Area-based writer whose work focuses on civil liberties, human rights, mindfulness, and the intersection of parenting and progressive politics. She is a contributing writer to and her work has appeared in The Village Voice, The Nation, Dissent Magazine and many other national and local magazines. She is also a contributor to the anthology The Battle of Seattle (Soft Skull Press) and the co-author of Healing (Parallax Press). She is the editor for Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and blogs regularly at


Neumann, longtime editor of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, comes out from behind the editing curtain to show how mindfulness can be caught perhaps more effectively than it can be taught. Her presentation of her reluctant journey is both convincing and charming. A New York editor and writer who likes to walk fast gets a job as editor to the Zen master, giving her a chance to return to the California of her youth. Slowing down in the world of Buddhist meditation practice is not optional. It happens, Neumann discovers, with habit, intention, and age, factors the Buddha himself reckoned with. Thematically grouped essays gather steam and coherence as the reader comes to know more about the author and her family. Neumann writes about her two children with a loving eye for detail. Many Buddhist books about seeking enlightenment are theoretical despite their best intentions. Neumann has written the real deal, in which the enlightenment seeker's life involves hollering at rude drivers and agonizing over what to do when you forget your plastic bags at the grocery store. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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