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The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being Hardcover – April 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 387 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039370470X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393704709
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Siegel, co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center, blends personal experience with scientific research, attempting to capture the spiritual as well as the physiological phenomenon of "mindfulness"-or, in Siegel's acronym-speak, COAL: the state of simultaneous Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love. Siegel's endeavor is timely and well-intentioned, but his is an elusive subject, and his text is peppered with confusing, semi-technical descriptions of mind-states (like meditation) and processes (like egocentric and allocentric circuitry) that frequently frustrate. Despite this, Siegel does introduce persuasive scientific evidence that meditation and the mindful state not only produce improvement in well-being, but also detectable physical changes in the brain, such as a thickening of the middle prefrontal lobes. He also introduces exotic new vocabulary, such as "ipseity," "the core sense of self beneath the usual personal identity." If the result of Siegel's marriage of medicine and mysticism is something of a muddle, he is to be commended for the effort, and his attitude toward science is unique in a medical doctor (tellingly, Siegal took a sabbatical from med school after being reprimanded for empathizing with his patients, rather than objectifying them, and used the time to pursue drawing and dancing). Though uneven and weighed down with too many acronyms, this is a notable science title that smartly combines the personal, the clinical and the spiritual.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


In-depth as well as life changing. . . .The ideas will enrich one's own mindfulness practice and enhance one's therapeutic skills. (The American Journal of Psychiatry)

More About the Author

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is an internationally acclaimed author, award-winning educator, and child psychiatrist. He is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he also serves as a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational center devoted to promoting insight, compassion, and empathy in individuals, families, institutions and communities. His books include "Mindsight," "The Developing Mind," "The Mindful Brain," "The Mindful Therapist," "Parenting From the Inside Out," and "The Whole-Brain Child." He is the Founding Editor of the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which includes "Healing Trauma," "The Power of Emotion," and "Trauma and the Body." He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. For more information on Dr. Siegel's work, please visit

Customer Reviews

It is worth the time to read it and a great book to read over again.
I was fascinated by the manner in which Dr. Segal combined the neurological concepts associated with such an intense field as mindfulness.
Eric Amberg
Healthy experiences can help us cultivate our brains, our minds and our sense of well-being.
Dr. Richard G. Petty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

217 of 225 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard G. Petty on May 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A favorite book of mine is Ellen Langer's "Mindfulness." Happily still in print though it is nearly twenty years old. With it, Ellen, an eminent academic at Harvard introduced the psychological community to something that lies at the core of many religious, spiritual and contemplative practices.

This marvelous book by the co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center is a next step. To give you a flavor of the book, let me quote from the Preface,

"Welcome to a journey into the heart of our lives. Being mindfully aware, attending to the richness of our here-and-now experiences, creates scientifically recognized enhancements in out physiology, our mental functions, and our inter-personal relationships. Being fully present in out awareness opens our lives to new possibilities of well-being.

Almost all cultures have practices that help people develop awareness of the moment. Each of the major religions of the world utilizes some method to enable individuals to focus their attention, from meditation to prayer, yoga to t'ai chi."

For Daniel Siegel, being "mindful: means being aware, of being conscientious, with kindness and care." He uses a helpful acronym: COAL, for curiosity, openness, acceptance and love.

As Daniel points out, we are in desperate need of finding a new way of being, not just in ourselves, but in our relationships, schools and in society as a whole. Professionals constantly see the terrible consequences for people who feel social isolation, dislocation and alienation. Yet until the advent of the Positive Psychology movement, academic psychology, psychotherapy and psychiatry had all focused almost exclusively on the sick mind.
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92 of 98 people found the following review helpful By K. Harrison on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the content of this book fascinating and important (5 stars) but the writing ponderous and redundant (2 stars), for the most part. It is an ambitious attempt to synthesize and interpret scientific research and the author's personal experience in an emerging field that is fraught with speculation. Perhaps because of this, the author appears to have cobbled together every study potentially relating brain function and mindfulness, weaving back and forth to make every possible connection, rather than following a few salient lines of thinking and explicating them clearly. Difficult as it was to digest some of the material (I am a practiced reader of science but had to read too many sentences too many times), I benefited personally and immediately from several of the concepts presented such as streams of awareness, parenting styles ("secure attachment"), approach mindset and mindful education, and I look forward to further research in this field. I had imagined the brain research to be further along than it is and expected more about research on meditation, so I was a tad disappointed, but this is not the author's fault. In spite of the poor presentation, there was some delightful new learning for me and I am glad to have read this.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always been a fan of this author, he is a scholar, excellent writer and based on his writing a wise individual. What makes this book especially good from my perspective is the balancing of subjective information from the world's wisdom traditions and his own interior experience with their physical correlates i.e. rigorous science without reducing either to the other. This is extremely refreshing and this carefully researched book adopts an attitude of openness, curiosity and wonder.

In addition, THE MINDFUL BRAIN is NOT written soley for academically minded individuals or psychologists. It is very readable by any intelligent layperson and extremely engaging. It is theoritical, but also compellingly practical in the spirit of Parenting From the Inside Out, which I highly recommend as well.

I also The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are is an incredible book. However, this is much less accessible to the average person than this volume and the one in the proceeding paragraph.

More concisely, what Daniel Siegel has done is brought together what we know from the various contemplative traditions, mind-body medicine and neuroscience together in a compelling argument for the value of mindfulness to everyday life, happiness and health. I would think this would be something everyone would be interested in.

While it's a wonderful adaptation to be able to think ahead, plan, etc. This often carries one out of the HERE and NOW moment and keeps us on a treadmill of postponing our fulfillment.
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62 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Stall on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The topic of mindfulness has been around for many millenia, & espoused by many religious & spiritual sects throughout the world, primarily in the East. The topic fascinates me, as I have taken a course in Asian Philosophy and have read many neuroscience books the last couple of years. Despite this, the book was unable to keep my attention, ironically, because of the redundant writing style. While eloquent, Siegel is often rearranging the same statement without adding much knew to it. Perhaps this is great for a more global, holistic view of the subject, but it is difficult to maintain attention (ironically) when you lose your place from feeling like you just read the same thing.

The neuroscientific aspects of resonance circuitry (and mirror neurons) isn't a new idea but Siegel skillfully expounds upon it and how it relates to mindfulness. All in all, despite some glaring flaws in my opinion, the book was worth buying for this alone, but if you're expecting an emphasis more on the brain rather than a subjective perspective on mindfulness, I find the balance of the book to be tilted in the other direction--so it may disappoint you if that's the case.
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