If self-help books usually fall short of delivering life changes, The Breakout Principle is a book of a different stripe: a science-based path to self-transformation. Herbert Benson, M.D. pulls together 30 years of mind-body research to describe the Breakout Principle: "a powerful mind-body impulse that severs prior mental patterns and--even in times of great stress or emotional trauma--opens an inner door to a host of personal benefits." Breakouts open the door to different kinds of peak experiences--self-awareness, creativity, productivity, athleticism, rejuvenation, and transcendence--and lead to lasting changes.
Benson explains the stages of stress/struggle, release (during which you give up unresolved destructive or negative thought patterns), breakout/peak experience, and "new-normal" state. He balances the science behind his concepts with practical, how-to tips. For example, many different activities and types of experiences can trigger your personal Breakout in the release stage, and Benson helps you figure out which ones might work for you: repetitive mental or physical activity, an absorbing personal encounter, expression of your personal belief system, "total abandon" to an intense experience, altruistic activity, or filling your mind with a dominant sensory impression. He and skillful co-author William Proctor illustrate points with case studies and personal reflections, making complex medical and philosophical issues more easily accessible.
Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, is well known for his mind/body research, especially his work on the relaxation response. His other books include The Relaxation Response
, Beyond the Relaxation Response: How to Harness the Healing Power of Your Personal Beliefs
, and Timeless Healing
. This powerful and empowering book is highly recommended as a guide for readers willing to do the work of making a life change. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
In this well researched follow-up to the bestselling The Relaxation Response, which was first published in 1975, Benson and his co-author Proctor detail the intricate relationship between mind and body to uncover what they call a revolutionary "fundamental self-transforming principle"-the self-help solution to end all self-help solutions. The Breakout Principle holds that through a series of practiced mental and physical activities, an individual can achieve higher levels of self-awareness, creativity, productivity, athleticism, rejuvenation and personal enlightenment, as well as escape the stress and anxiety that can often block personal progress. Not the panacea it might seem, this method is a four-step method of tackling challenging life circumstances that begins with the struggle phase, followed by a "letting go," or mental release of the problem, and then by a Breakout experience (when you're completely released from familiar but unproductive thought patterns), and ending with a "new-normal" (i.e., enhanced) state of being. Benson and Proctor give plenty of "release triggers," including meditating, jogging, folding laundry and looking at nature, that may assist in bringing readers to a mentally freeing "peak experience." Anecdotes and case studies pad the text, and fairly extensive empirical evidence gives it weight. This may not be the cure-all the subtitle promises, but it's a good resource for anyone seeking a new path to self-understanding.
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