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The Compassionate Mind

Narrated by: Rupert Farley
Length: 22 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Throughout history people have sought to cope with a life that is often stressful and hard. We have actually known for some time that developing compassion for oneself and others can help us face up to and win through the hardship and find a sense of inner peace. However in modern societies we rarely focus on this key process that underpins successful coping and happiness and can be quick to dismiss the impact of modern living on our minds and well-being. Instead we concentrate on 'doing, achieving' and having'. Now, bestselling author and leading authority on depression, Professor Paul Gilbert explains how new research shows how we can all learn to develop compassion for ourselves and others and derive the benefits of this age-old wisdom. 

In this ground-breaking new book he explores how our minds have developed to be highly sensitive and quick to react to perceived threats and how this fast-acting threat-response system can be a source of anxiety, depression and aggression. He describes how studies have also shown that developing kindness and compassion for self and others can help in calming down the threat system: as a mother's care and love can soothe a baby's distress, so we can learn how to soothe ourselves. Not only does compassion help to soothe distressing emotions, it actually increases feelings of contentment and well-being. Here, Professor Gilbert outlines the latest findings about the value of compassion and how it works, and takes readers through basic mind training exercises to enhance the capacity for, and use of, compassion.

 New audio available from 01 August 2018.

©2013 Paul Gilbert (P)2013 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"As somebody who suffers from severe depression, I know the depressive's harshest critic is themselves. It is never helpful to be told to pull ourselves together by others but saying it to ourselves leads us in only one direction - into a spiralling descent into despair. This wise and perceptive book teaches us self-compassion and the consolations of kindness. I recommend it all the time." (Sally Brampton, author of Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression and the Aunt Sally column in The Sunday Times)
"The increasing drive to find a competitive edge in all aspects of our lives may create efficiencies but they are cold, heartless and unpleasant to live with. Gilbert shows how and why this occurs, and explains why our capacity for compassion is the antidote." (Oliver James, author of Affluenza and the Selfish Capitalist)
"A timely book for a time when competitiveness, materialism and narcissism have failed us. This book provides timeless wisdom that you can use every day. It will make a wonderful gift for someone you care for - especially, if you give it to yourself." (Robert L Leahy, author of The Worry Cure and President Of The International Association For Cognitive Psychotherapy)
"Fascinating ... thoughtful and well written ... this book is a resource to be owned and used with enjoyment" ( Nursing Standard)
"A challenging and useful addition to anyone's self-help shelf, as well as a refreshingly rigorous look behind why our brains work the way they do. In fact, this is a self-help book for people who don't like self-help books." ( ONEinFOUR magazine)
"Important and enjoyable." ( The Psychologist)
"A landmark book" ( The Scientific and Medical Network)
"Interesting and helpful." ( Mental Health Practice)

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Wonderful

I found this book to be beautifully read and beautifully written inspiring and with some great practical tools to help me with developing compassion aspects of myself. Thank you Paul Gilbert and the reader and audible books!

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  • Vickie
  • 02-09-2013

Like water for a thirsty wanderer

What did you love best about The Compassionate Mind?

The author's kindness and humor. He felt like a friend, helping me through difficult--but crucial--information that will help my life for years and years to come. I will always be grateful to him for this.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Compassionate Mind?

A few things. When he mentioned other works by other authors (Napoleon Hill's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" which basically tells us to just LISTEN to each other; John Price's work; Mark Leary's book "The Curse of the Self"; and many more), I quite often took note of that for future looking into.

The author's book focuses on explaining complex ideas about self-compassion (and compassion for others) in easily-understood language, and to tell we the readers that we CAN attain this elusive and wonderful gift of self-compassion/other compassion.

The gold in this book, which was repeated in many different ways throughout the book (helping me to understand it from different angles and within different contexts), THE THEME UPON WHICH THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN, is that it isn't our fault that we are critical or judgmental toward ourselves or others, or might feel superior/inferior, OR that we suffer from anxiety, fear, anger, or depression. Further--and what really brings it home for me--is that it is natural to feel a sudden flood of anxiety, fear, or a feeling of anger or wanting to exact revenge. AND that, because of how our brains have evolved, it is also natural for us to ruminate on these momentary feelings for days, months, and even years. It is also natural to feel a wide spectrum of feelings. They are not the enemies. What IS important is being aware of them and dealing with them so they don't overtake your life (like my reference to rumination--which is only one example).

In a phrase, he wants us to "experience rather than self-judge/judge others"; to be kind, loving, self-compassionate/compassionate, and warm towards ourselves and others. His full chapters, coming at the subject from many angles, and his exercises teach us how to do this.

This is not a difficult, scientifically-slanted book, though it is grounded firmly in science. It is also not a spiritual book per se, though you can certainly come at it from that angle, should you enjoy that. It is just, plain and simple, a very, very practical book. It doesn't throw around any far-flinging (what I call) "woo-woo" terms which other books might. It's real. It's down to earth. It's usable in everyday life.

He gave hope to this reader.

I feel more hope now, after hearing this book (which I'll be restarting at the beginning as soon as I've finished the first go-through, and I'm going to listen to it again and again) than I have in three decades of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and therapies with dozens of philosophies and advice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

As others have stated, this book is very long. But it is, by no means, too long--for all of its in-depth coverage of vital (and in my view life-saving) information. There is nothing I would have edited out to cut down the length. I have been listening to it in 3-4 blocks of time. But you could easily listen to it in one-hour increments or full day's-worth segments of time.

Any additional comments?

Buy this book, and then let it wash over you, confront your prior attitudes and opinions, and amaze you. His book is tightly focused, well-planned and executed, and practical for novices and experienced alike! I'm going to look for more by this author.

As a side note: this book is written by a British author, and the audio book is read by a British narrator. However, as an American, I had no trouble understanding every single word. In addition, I didn't have to strain to hear every single word with ease--the tone was even in volume and cadence throughout the entire piece.

Buy this book. It will make you feel so much better and more hopeful about yourself and your world than you could have ever imagined. I think these ideas are going to make a huge difference in my life as I begin to orient my gaze toward its premises, exercises, and practical applications.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe
  • 10-10-2015

Such a splendid book!

Such a humanistic master pease! And also, in my layman mind, a very exiting summary, at least for the large audience, of many evolvements in modern psychiatry. But before all a brilliant and convincing presentation emphasizing the importance of the compassionate perspective not only in the caring professions and the education sectors but in all functions of the public as well as the private spheres of society. Also very well written and not without some elegant humor and charming self irony.
When an audiobook stretches over many hours I am
sometimes inclined to fast forward; just a little. But never in this Masterpiece even if more than 20 hours of audio normally could feel like a long piece of listening. And indeed it was so long so that I just made up my mind to read it in e-book form, before I listen to it the second time.
The narration was also very good.
Johan Landsdorff
Helsinki

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Napoleon
  • 13-11-2018

Amazing!

Excellent book on compassion towards others and more importantly yourself. The author does a great job of walking you through the process of internal growth. Definitely a must have, there aren't many books that effectively help you combat shame as this one.

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  • Dorota
  • 20-10-2018

Longish, but well worth while

I found this discussion of compassion to be directed to the lay public: certainly people who have not given any thought to meditation or any other spiritual or mindful practice. It does offer a great, matter-of-fact perspective on the value of compassion, and many tools for making space for compassion in our minds and lives. I enjoyed listening to it, and plan to return to it in the future.

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  • Scott
  • 20-09-2013

Boring, boring, boring

I kept waiting for an insight—any insight—that wasn't just ridiculously obvious to surface in this book. Maybe you don't already know that our minds evolved from a more primitive base that doesn't always serve us well. Maybe you've never heard how to meditate. So, okay, go ahead and give it a listen. Personally, I recommend "Buddhism Without Beliefs" instead. It's much shorter, and doesn't get lost in (really) elaboration.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanna
  • 25-10-2016

Incredibly important read.

Even though the editor could pay a little bit more attention to ensure that repetitions and mistakes made whilst recording the book are cut out, it was time well spent. The book equips with tools that serve as a brilliant introduction to meditation and mindfulness. I listened to it and read the book on my kindle simultaneously. I recommend!

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-2016

Thought provoking and influential!

This book explains well the evidence base underpinning this approach. For people who like that sort of this, it is comprehensive. The author touches on many themes of emotional and psychological difficulty faced by people so I think most people would find an aspect of the book relevant to their situation. For me, this book has helped me to be more aware of myself, my emotions, and step back from them. Rather than get annoyed or frustrated with others for "making" me feel certain ways, I'm being much more understanding of my feelings and where they are coming from in me, knowing my own vulnerabilities. This is making relationships a lot easier for me and particularly important when working in a system that is very pressured at the moment! I am finding ways to use this approach with clients I work with too. I know I will keep dipping into certain chapters and exercises to consolidate my learning. I bought the paper copy to help me with this. I'm interested in what the author makes of Trumps successful candidacy, is it a reversal to more archetypal thinking? The narrator was engaging too. I found the audible version helpful in covering a lot of material in a relatively shorter time than it would have taken reading the book eg I could play it while driving around. Thank you.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Luke Stableford
  • 09-03-2015

very interesting and well written

Very thorough and well written book. Long though! the excellent narrator made it much more digestible, and in fact was much easier to take in than the print version.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • M.RAYN
  • 14-05-2018

You’ve got to read this

Wordy but brilliant theory. Really brings home the true meaning of compassion-and it’s not all airy fairy, it’s hard. This will challenge you to tap into brain systems within yourself, you will find some benefit from the exercises contained. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s counterproductive.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Louisa Hylton
  • 04-03-2019

Great book on compassion.

Narrator was very clear. lots of example on compassion and tools we can use to develop it. i would have like a little more on self compassion. but overall a good book. Easy listening

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • rebecca marriner
  • 13-05-2016

compassion will heal the world

i loved this book i feel it expanded my mind and gave me a greater understanding of myself and the society i live in i feel inspired to go out and absorb as much as i can and train my mind to compassion. highly recommend x

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 07-02-2016

brill

interesting, full of humour and insight, Gilbert so honest about himself. found it life changing

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-01-2019

Good first half. Poor editing

Loved the first half which was really insightful. It was a bit drawn out and repetitive at times though. At about 11 hours it gets into the practical side of the book and that’s where the limits of audible show most. There were hours of example exercises explained and to be honest I’ll probably never go back to them and can remember few. Many sounded very similar that they all sort of merged.
Last part of the book was going on about how a compassionate society would be which is not something I can influence in reality and this got boring...as did his obvious love for Buddha and dislike of any other religion. I got a bit sick of that.

The narration was putting me to sleep at times and the editing was messed up in well over a dozen places with parts repeated straight after they’ve been read. At one point a piece was repeated three times. This was all mostly in the second half which was all a bit dullsville. I got sick of hearing ‘mind brain’ as when reading it you’d not read both choices each time.

Good for the first few hours but the exercises need the book really which I’ll probably get second hand. Went on too long and was repetitive and off message too much.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Julia
  • 10-09-2015

Good but over long

Enjoyable and pulls together a number of strands from mindfulness, and neuroscience although already sounding a bit out of date. Quite sad that the hopeful postscript about Obama the new President didn't really change in the way Gilbert hoped....... More judicious editing would have helped too. Way too long and repetitive in places.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Benny
  • 08-12-2018

Great content. Glitches in recording

Funny in places but very thought provoking mind changing content. Helpful explanation of the science behind our brain chemistry. Written pre Trump, wonder what he, d add about that. Recommend.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful