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Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind
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314 of 320 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I had no trouble whatsoever relating to Dr. Dispenza's descriptions of how the human brain functions. In fact, I found his no-nonsense discussions of the brain extremely refreshing and encouraging, especially in view of the fact that I was so sorely in need of obtaining a practical working model of why large-scale healing and personal change are even possible.

For me, the greatest value of Dr. Dispenza's book is in gaining the practical tools to heal. To that end, what healed Dr. Dispenza's multiple vertebral fractures was his level of consciousness and his ability to think. Without prior knowledge of how to help himself, he more than likely would have gone the conventional route of treatment and ended up as a cripple. And without the Four Pillars of Healing (well-described in the text), the cases of spontaneous remission presented by other people in the book would probably not have occurred. Thus, when all is said and done, the power of thought appears to be at the core of healing.

To make this book more user-friendly for myself, I outlined what were, for me, its key points:

1) Decide who/what you want to be and create an ideal picture of that in your mind.

2) Allow the frontal lobe of your brain to fulfill its functions as your guide; the frontal lobe is so skillful that the only limitation on its ability to construct these models is your own skill at envisioning the ideal of yourself. The frontal lobe allows you to transcend the slow, linear process of evolution and to advance beyond the natural progression of adaptation.

3) Regularly rehearse the new attitudes and behaviors internally and externally, including at bedtime.

4) Break your brain and body's chemical addictions to negative thinking and feelings by stopping automatic negative thinking and feeling and interrupting the flow of repetitive thoughts that occupy most of your waking moments.

5) Address your attitudes and discover what groups of thoughts that are clustered together in habitual sequence (i.e., attitudes) that you have to break free of.

6) Resolve to no longer revisit memories of your past and the associated attitudes that define you as a victim.

7) Stop blaming others for your problems.

8) Deny your familiar internal voice and external voices of other people.

9) Replace negative "priming" with positive priming, such as feeling appreciation and gratitude; mentally rehearsing your new role; taking breaks in routine (such as travel); changing negative perceptions to positive perceptions).

10) Break away from customary routines.

11) Get feedback from others on how you're doing [as the "new person"].

12) Devote every spare minute to moving into the new life.

13) Become so involved in focusing on the present moment and on your intent that you completely lose track of your body, time, and space. Nothing, then, will be real but your thoughts.

14) Seek out instruction to get to the next level.

15) Work with the Four Pillars of Healing.

16) Make the healing/changing process the most important thing in your life.

Since reading Evolve Your Brain, I have come across another book called What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter. This book is in the same vein, but it concentrates on the practical aspects of reprogramming your thoughts and feelings and spends almost no time on related scientific aspects of brain chemistry. (What To Say was written much earlier than Dr. Dispenza's book, but is unequivocally on the same page as the work of Joe Dispenza.)

I highly recommend both books - and note that after several weeks of working with each of them, I am in incredibly different and better spaces than I was.
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87 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of book that could change your life, but it's not an easy read. If you were looking for more from Dr. Dispenza about "I Create My Day" as seen in What the Bleep, you will be disappointed with this book. If you are fascinated by how the brain works and how to use more of your brain to fulfill your potential, you will love this book. If you are looking for details about exactly how to change yourself and your life with focused intention then skip to the last 2 chapters of this 500-page lesson in brain function. This is a dense, scientific work, not as spiritual as many would like. But Dr. Dispenza finally explained a great many things I have always been curious about, including quantum physics, in a way that I could understand.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
First, I think that you have to be ready for a book like this. But, if you're ready, if you've already been asking the questions about how your life is created, and why things happen to you, then this is the book to buy. I discovered Dr Dispenza in the movie "What The Bleep do we know", and he was one of the speakers that I liked the most. I watch this movie every day, and get more and more out of it each time I watch it. The first time I watched it I rushed to my computer to find out anything I could about Dr. Dispenza, and had Evolve your brain in my hands the next day. I will admit that some parts of the book I had to read over more than once, but with the intention of wanting to understand, and the desire to change my mind and my life I got through it. I began practicing what he said all during the time I read the book, and after a while, realized that it isn't so difficult once you understand how our minds really work. If you are genuinely ready to change your life, this book is a MUST READ.
Also, the moment that he mentioned Ramtha, the white book, I ordered that also. But, I had already been opened to channeling before discovering 'what the bleep'. I was also drawn to Ramtha, and wanted to know more about him. But as I said, you have to be ready to receive this information.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is sincerly ready to change their lives - which should be all of us, and would advise that they take the time to really read what Dr Dispenza is telling us. In doing so you will truly get the most out of this book and begin to change your life from just a mediocre every day experience, to manifesting the existence that our spirits came here for in the first place
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Overall I enjoyed reading this book, although I did find it somewhat misleading regarding the scientific "paradigm" it offers and the minority philosophical points underlying it, and I was disappointed that there was not more practical applications of the author's interesting model.

My take on this book was almost the opposite of many of the other reviewers here who were either so impressed by the fact that someone would try to sue use science to support "free will" or so dismayed by the amount neuroscience in this book. Neither of those things seems that impressive to me. There *is* a lot of neuroscience here, and much of it is better than average (for a popular non-technical book anyway), but there is also some crude and I think poorly thought out philosophy as well. And the ironic thing for me was that the principles the author espouses for change are pretty mundane and don't really require either the neuroscience or the "consciousness precedes matter" philosophy.

The reasonable principles include such straightforward suggestions as envisioning your end point to organize action, using deliberate shifts of attention to change direction, using rehearsal to change habits, identifying destructive habits of thought, take responsibility for change, and make well-being a priority. Great ideas, but they don't really need the intro to neurosci or quantum physics in my opinion.

Brain science would have been more appropriate if the author had gone into more details about how we make decisions, showing how to influence the thinking process (e.g. see The Owner's Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research 3rd Edition), but he avoids *that* sort of research, probably because it would dilute the philosophical message of "free will" that the author seems very concerned with promoting. If there are causal influences on thought, then it doesn't seem so free afterall, the opposite of the rhetorical message of this book.

The author does a pretty good job most of the time selecting and deriving pertinent lessons from neuroscience data and he gives some optimistic and realistic applications for how we can and do change ourselves sometimes. Where there is practical advice given, most of it seems very good to me, which is why I like this book overall and gave it a fairly good rating as inspirational self-help that tries hard to be scientific. As such it may for many people turn out to be a nice corrective to the scientific pessimism they find from many old school medical and psychological experts who are overly deterministic in their prognoses. I guess that's why so many reviewers seem so taken with this book, it does have an element of hope in it dressed in science, and we are more used to getting skepticism or pessimism in scientific treatments.

The author and I both seem to agree that we *can* change ourselves and influence our healing processes deliberately to some degree by rewiring our own nervous system in places, and we both also respect and commit ourselves to scientific causal models. We also both seem to be "compatibilists," people who beleive that our sense of free will and scientific determinism can be adequately reconciled. That far, I liked this book. We may disagree on the limits of self-change in practice in some specific spots, but I think the basic concept of self-healing and self-change is sound and welcome.

However the author also seems to have struggled with the philosophical problem of "top-down causation" at some point and I don't agree with or like the resolution he came up with. The whole concept from the start begins with the idea that thoughts trigger all sorts of physical things that have lasting effects. The author spends a lot of time in the book giving detailed examples of this. I have no problem with that, although it should be mentioned that this is not something new, it has been pretty well documented for decades by other authors, e.g. The Healer Within: The New Medicine of Mind and Body and Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing: New Concepts of Therapeutic Hypnosis.

The problem with this particular book that I didn't have with those others is: where did the thought itself come from and what is its manifestation in the brain? That's where the author mostly just hand waves the brain mechanisms and defers to the ancient archaic version of "free will" as something that floats free of physical reality through some obscure unspecified quantum mechanical rationale. Why does he need this stretch to point out that we can change ourselves? I don't think he does.

The way thoughts themselves arise is one of the most important and interesting aspects of brain science, and still largely a mystery. The author's good but selective review of neuroscience mentions "free will" a lot but never all the wonderful data that has been accumulated regarding how we make decisions or where our perceptions and misperceptions of "free will" come from. Free will, in the sense that it actually exists and is worth seeking, is not something that escapes the brain and then reprograms it as the author claims, it is a result of that same remarkable brain, even if not entirely understood. At least that is a more interesting and promising line scientifically than hand waving about quantum weirdness and how "thoughts" as disembodied entities cause things to happen in the body. From my perspective, the illusion that makes us feel as if thought has to be non-physical is addressed well in: The Illusion of Conscious Will (Bradford Books) and Freedom Evolves

This "new paradigm" of the author is actually more philosophy and pop science speculation than hard science I think. It isn't terrible by any means, or impossible, and he isn't alone in considering it, but it is not really a new scientific model at all in any interesting experimental sense. It has been around for a while and has had a small, marginal, but dedicated following outside of mainstream science (and more broadly in popular media).

The author applies the problematic "consciousness is prior to matter" philosophical stance and then at the end of the book he throws in the traditional idiosyncratic interpretation of quantum physics to make the point more "scientific." To be fair, this view is reasonable philosophically and more to the point, I suppose may help non-scientists better appreciate human potential for change, which seems to be the author's primary overriding goal. But personally I think it is a technically completely unneccessary and misleading way to resolve the issue raised by top-down causation. For details on the philsophical issues, Jaegwon Kim's books are particularly helpful, such as: Mind in a Physical World: An Essay on the Mind-Body Problem and Mental Causation (Representation and Mind)

"Top-down causation," is the problem of how the mind, as a product of the brain, can then turn around and influence the body. I would say that this is a problem of how some aspects of brain function can influence others. The author instead joins those modern day Cartesians who evade the scientific problem with philosophy by making "thought" something outside of the physical world that causes things to happen in the physical world. Yes, I agree with the author that whatever a thought is in the brain does cause other things to happen in the body, but I disagree with him that it requires a weird non-physicalist take on consciousness and quantum mechanics to achieve this in principle. I particularly don't like that he claims this is some sort of new scientific paradigm. It is an old philosophical idea. There's a nice account of the difference between this intuitive view and the scientific worldview in: The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them

This idea is certainly considered seriously by some philosophers, especially those who feel it is impossible to solve "hard problems" like qualia with physical explanations. But there is very little science here that applies to these ideas unless you really stretch and squint an awful lot at a few marginal experiments that could just as well be interpreted in other ways.

More importantly, the book doesn't really have as much in the way of practical ideas as I would have liked. The "science of changing your mind" should actually have a lot in it about changing your mind, rather than just explaining why it should be possible to change your mind.

So I don't think this was pioneering science because of its unneccessary odd digressions of philosophy and quantum physics, and I don't think it is a good how-to book, but I think the author makes a good case from neuroscience for the possibility of changing ourselves. I did find some value in the author's general model of how we change, but that would have made a better article than a book.

If the author had taken his model of change and neuroscience references and applied them to many practical examples rather than using them to promote an idiosyncratic underlying theory, this would have been a superb book in my opinion.

As it is, it is a better than average "alternative science" book. A worthwhile spiritual and also practical message combined with a mixture of real scientific and also very idiosyncratic models.
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61 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I HAVE READ this long-awaited book by Dr. Joe Dispenza and have found it to be practical and inspiring. It puts right back into our own conscious control the unfoldment of our lives and our health. It describes Dr. Joe's journey to discovery of principles which he first applied to his own life and then studied in depth to understand the scientific basis for what he was learning. He applies both spiritual understanding and new discoveries in quantum physics and molecular biology in a very understandable and readable format which can be understood by all -- I give it five stars!
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74 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited when I recieved this book, as I had recently seen Joe Dispenza on the "What the Bleep" movie and thought that he was a really cool person, and a real role model for people who want to put the power of intention to work in thier lives in a powerful way. I have read many books on the power of intention and the new quantum physics as it relates to conscious thought and the power to use that to create your own reality.

Well.... this book, kinda, sorta, hinted at that all the way through, but... it was basically a very, very verbose book on the anatomy and functioning of the brain. Maybe this book would be good for pre medical students.. maybe. It wasn't even that the book was too technical for people, as I already knew most of the information. It was just boring, and went on an on and didn't really relate the information to the practial stuff that we bought the book for.

I still think Joe Dispenza is an amazing guy, but just didn't give the readers what they wanted, or anything to really inspire them into really "evolving thieir brains" or changing their lives in a powerful way.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Whenever humans have lived on the cusp of a dramatic upheaval, they have been forced to choose whether they will cling to what has been, or embrace what is coming. The quantum paradigm shift that is beginning to rumble through human consciousness will confront us with the question of whether we want to continue as human doings, or recreate ourselves as "Quantum Beings." But, as Joe Dispenza states, "Choosing to break free of the routine of living in survival mode and creating a new self are not easy tasks. It is so much easier to live in a reactive, rather than proactive, manner. To change is to break the habit of being yourself." "Evolve Your Brain" is an encouraging guide for anyone who wants to change their life but has become discouraged by this seemingly insurmountable task.

Readers who are more interested in action than theory may get bogged down by the overabundance of data included in the beginning chapters, but as Einstein pointed out, ". . .no problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it." If we are to affect the workings of the mind in a positive way, we must understand the negative foundation we are working from. Dispenza demonstrates that our "thoughts" are more often the result of unconscious programmed reactions and chemical/emotional addictions than conscious choice. To change means that we must break down neurochemical circuits that we have reinforced through continuous stimulation. Dispenza offers many realistic strategies, such as mental rehearsal, that anyone willing to put forth the effort can utilize. When we know how to change the patterns we have created, and realize that effort and focus are required, we have a far greater chance to move past frustration to success.

Considering Dispenza's relationship with the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know," some readers may be disappointed that the book remains so firmly rooted in brain science. We feel that this is one of the reasons the book is so valuable. While we believe that consciousness exists as part of the One Mind/Zero Point Field, the brain is our "receiver" and has the ability to interfere with our intentions and choices to a degree few of us are aware of. We cannot easily adopt the thinking needed to step into a new paradigm without first making changes at the brain level that will support the change. If we fail to make these changes, we will quickly slip back into established patterns the brain is most comfortable with, even though those patterns deny us the happiness we seek. Dispenza is not offering a quick fix, but the information he offers works. Lee & Steven Hager are the authors of Quantum Prodigal Son: Revisiting Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son from the Perspective of Quantum Mechanics
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The actual useful information in this book doesn't show up until after 300 pages, and could have been a ten-page pamphlet. If you are looking for a primer on brain anatomy and mis-interpreted quantum theory peppered with lots of boring anecdotes, this is your book. I gave it three stars because there IS quite a lot of information on brain anatomy and cognition in the book.

However, there is little application presented for the information, other than the idea that you become more like what you practice being (okay, maybe it wouldn't have filled a whole pamphlet). I cannot find a persuasive reason to recommend this book.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
While this book is well-written and packed with technical information about the brain, it is not at all about "evolving your brain". A better title for this book would be "How the Brain Works". I was on page 320 when I realized this book wasn't going in the direction I hoped it would. Detail after detail about the way a brain works. Quite the opposite of what I hoped.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I finished with a couple of huge reservations.

1. The book was written by a chiropractor, not a neurologist or anyone we would presume to be an expert.
2. He gives a few pages to his affiliation with the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. I had not heard of this before, but a quick search makes it seem like an obvious con/cult (I'm certain the author does not view it that way).

So, any information in the book is highly suspect under the circumstances. One of the most interesting assertions is that neural nets developed in an individual can be passed on through his dna. Documentation on this and other novel positions is thin or nonexistent. Without supporting documentation, it's easier for me to throw out everything in the book than to check every fact.

One incorrect fact that is easy to counter is Dispenza's assertion that Descartes did his work in the late 1700s (he died in 1650) and that Newton formulated the laws of physics a hundred years later (he died in 1727). It's probably just bad editing, but it's not faith-inspiring.
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