Lawrence Ferlinghetti once told me publishing a book is like heaving a big boulder off a high cliff.  Next is waiting to hear anything.  Sometimes, you never hear anything at all.

After I turned in my manuscript to Sounds True, my first feedback came from a senior member of the team who’d been copyediting it.  He called it an instant-classic, and one of the best books he’d seen there in a long time.  Such recognition is priceless.

Here follows responses from various corners of the universe. The first is for the audio edition, from Tantor Media:

Gary Gach’s calm and soothing voice is a perfect match for his audiobook about becoming aware.

AudioFile Magazine, who celebrated the book with an Earphones Award.  ( For a complete roster of reviews – and interviews – please turn to interviews & reviews)

The next comes from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat’s multifaith and interspiritual website of resources for spiritual journeys – who call the book one of the best of the year.
Pause, Breathe, Smile embraces the creative and adventuresome world of everyday spirituality with ample doses of vim and vigor.
Spirituality & Practice

And the praise just kept on coming …

It’s direct, fluid, and wise; a beautiful mix of story-telling and dharma pushing.

Dr Justin Whitaker, Patheos

… a readable version of plain, sane goodness.

— Al Young, California Poet Laureate, author Drowning in the Sea of Love: Musical Memoirs; Who Is Angelina?; Seduction by Light.

Such a delightful approach to everyday mindfulness!

— Sharon Salzberg, co-founder the Insight Meditation Society, author of Real Happiness

Congratulations Gary for coming up with another great book. Surely your writings have granted me a deeper dimension of what lies beyond my current practice. Thank you for the timeless wisdom. Sadhu! With loving presence, —Swas Tan, Bodhi Heart Sanctuary, Penang, Malaysia

This book goes beyond anything I expected. It opened doors to simple, actionable practices that left me smiling for days, while exposing deeper truths of the energy beneath. Gary’s unique prose pierces through the common layers of anxious spin, bringing me to a verdant vista of perspective and peace. I dare anyone not to widen their eyes with wonder. 
— Sean Fargo, Mindfulness Coach, Mindfulness Exercises

This remarkable book is both simple and profound, practical and inspiring, humorous and heart-opening, immediately useful and thoroughly comp

rehensive. Reading it feels like being with a wise old Zen master twinkling with the eyes of a young child. Such a sweet wonderful book. — Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, andWisdom; Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence; and Resilient: How To Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness.

If a person is looking for a book which summarizes the teachings of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh — here it is.
— Jerry Braza,PhD, author Seeds of Love andMoment by Moment; Dharma teacher in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh

A lovely offering of wisdom, practices, and kindness to help foster a mindful life and a compassionate heart.
— Jack Kornfield author of No time Like the Present


Pause, Breathe, Smile is beautiful, clear, accessible, with so much warmth and care, It takes the reader on a beautiful journey through awareness, meditation,and wisdom using gentle instructions and accessible anecdotes. The book is clear and inviting, perfect for beginners but also wonderful for more experienced practitioners looking for a refreshing review. A deeply enjoyable and inspiring — Yael Shy, author of What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and B

Gary Gach offers us a sweet, often humorous, and always engaging presentation of an ancient spiritual discipline. “Pause, Breathe, Smile gives us mindfulness as a universalist spiritual discipline. I recommend it.  — James Ishmael Ford, American Zen Buddhist priest and Unitarian Universalist minister; author If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break and Zen Master Who?

Pause, Breathe, Smile is a delightful book!  Gary Gach’s writing is wise, practical, playful and encouraging.  My mindfulness practice was reinvigorated and deepened in surprising ways as a result of Gary’s insights.  Highly recommended!  — Daniel P. Coleman, author of Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community

Stress at work?  A technical meltdown? Having a bad day?  Having a good day? Don’t know what to do today? Start with poet Gary Gach’s simple formula for returning to sanity and grace. What a fine and much needed book especially now.   A lifetime of practice is folded into this elegant book.  It is guaranteed to make you smile.   —  Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom

Gary Gach’s life is his art. To spend any time with him – or what he’s written – is to be welcomed into a world in which colors are more vibrant and every act is play. He will make you feel younger, wiser, and more fully yourself. The book is lovely. reading it feels like taking a walk with Gary, so refreshing! What i like best about the book is its voice – how spontaneous and conversational it is. This is FUN to read! —Tim Desmond, author of Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy; The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook, and  How to Stay Human in a F*cked Up World: Mindfulness Practices for Real Life  

So simple! So skillful! So necessary! Bravo to Gary Gach for penning this brilliant approach mindfulness for all of us. I will be using it in my classes, and taking its wisdom to heart in my own life and practice.   — Leza Lowitz, author, Yoga Poems: Lines To Unfold By; Jet Black and the Ninja Wind; Up from the Sea; Sacred Sanskrit Words.

His best ever. Gach’s words are wise and go down easy, and his voice is sweet and clear as the mindfulness bell itself. It is DELIGHTFUL.   — Wes Nisker, author, Buddha’s Nature; The Big Bang, The Buddha, and the Baby Boom; You Are Not Your Fault, radio commentator, comedian, and Buddhist meditation instructor.

Pause Breathe Smile is an invitation to witness, enjoy, and engage the wonders of life. Gach reveals how we can get in touch with our True Nature. Mindfulness does not need to be an intermittent part of our life. It is available to us every moment!  Take Gach’s advice, “Like sheet music, this book’s not just to be read, but also tried out, performed.” — Rich Lewis, author of Centering Prayer Journey; The Stuff Dreams Are Made of: A Journey in the Pursuit of True Forgiveness

Pause Breathe Smile by Gary Gach is a mindfulness manual, a Twenty-first Century theology, an honest autobiography, and especially a cure for most kinds of anxiety. The tone is folksy, expansive and gentle. It’s a good read. Gach takes us literally beyond religion to gratitude, joy and sanctity. (Sure, that’s what religion was supposed to be doing all along. But, as with all things routine, religion ossifies.) Gach’s world is one filled with an all-pervading holiness and taking responsibility for one’s life. It is neither meditation nor religion but “present-ness” which, we suspect, is the goal of both.
  — Rabbi Lawrence Kushner has been the Emanu-El Scholar at The Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco for over a decade. He is the author of  over a dozen books (Eyes Remade for Wonder, The Book of Letters, The Book of Words) and a novel (Kaballah: A Love Story). He is also a serious oil painter.

Pause Breathe Smile cuts through the pious distractions masquerading as needlessly complicated spiritual truth to invite you into the simple reality of All in all. Read this book slowly. Take time to pause and breathe. And when you do, you will smile as well.   — Rami Shapiro, author of Holy Rascals: Advice for Spiritual Revolutionaries; Writing – The Sacred Art; Minyan: Ten Principles for Living a Life of Integrity


Read this, and breathe

Read this, and practice

Read this, and love

Read this, and awaken

—we will certainly be more awake, clear, and loving than before we started reading this book.

— Larry Yang, author Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community 

Hi Gary – well done!  may your book be a bridge for people keen on secular mindfulness to cross over and discover wisdom and ethics.  

—  Gillian Coote, Co-ordinating Teacher, Sydney Zen Centre

Thank you for writing it, the reading was a delight! PBS is nice and memorable, and makes for a good title. Love the stories, those are my favorite parts! And thank you for including intentionality as a fundamental starting point for practice, that is often missed. I also appreciate your inclusion of secular and nonsecular, just different paths, that neither is “better.”

— Ted Meissner, host of The Secular Buddhist podcast; community development at Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Center for Mindfulness

This is fantastic. A wonderful offering written in your own warm, clear voice. A great way to engage, honoring our teachers filtered through the lens of your own genuine insight and practice.

— Peter Kuhn, jazz musician

This dude does good stuff and has a strong thing going on.

— Kevin Jones. Convener, Social Capital Markets (SOCAP); Co Founder Neighborhood Economics, Regenerative Economics Conference; & Impact Hub Network (US).

Pause Breathe Smile is a graceful and easy read. Yet so very power-full. Not only for the reader, but perhaps as a tool in classes and groups. To bring the simple yet effective tool of mindfulness to our everyday lives. Kudos to the author Gary Gach.

— Les Jensen. Author (Citizen King & Forgiven Sinner), radio host (New Human Living), speaker, visionary.