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Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves Paperback – November 20, 2007


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Frequently Bought Together

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves + The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science + Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345479890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479891
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks and some of the world's leading neuroscientists all gather once a year at a conference on the latest discoveries in neuroplasticity: the study of how the human brain can change itself. (This is the second book the subject due out in March, along with Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself). This remarkable conference serves as the center of Wall Street Journal science columnist Begley's account of neuroplasticity. Until recently, the reigning theory was that neurons in the brain didn't regenerate. Begley walks readers through the seminal experiments showing that in fact new neurons are created in the brain every day, even in people in their 70s. With frequent tangents into Buddhist philosophy, Begley surveys current knowledge of neuroplasticity. Most interesting is a series of experiments with Buddhist adepts who have spent over 10,000 hours meditating. What these experiments show is tantalizing: it might be possible to train the brain to be better at feeling certain emotions, such as compassion. No less interesting are the hurdles the scientists face in recruiting participants; yogis replied that if these scientists wanted to understand meditation, they should meditate. Despite the title, the book holds no neuroplasticity tips, but it is a fascinating exploration of the ways the mind can change the brain. (Mar. 13)Corrections: The author of The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession (Reviews, Dec. 18, 2006) is Ken Alder. The title of Heather Ewing's biography of James Smithson is The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution and the Foundation of the Smithsonian (Reviews, Jan. 1).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“There are two great things about this book. One is that it shows us how nothing about our brains is set in stone. The other is that it is written by Sharon Begley, one of the best science writers around. Begley is superb at framing the latest facts within the larger context of the field. She also gives us the back stories that reveal how human the process of science research is. This is a terrific book.”

Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers


“Reading this book is like opening doors in the mind. Sharon Begley brings the reader right to the intersection of scientific and meditative understanding, a place of exciting potential for personal and global transformation. And she does it so skillfully as to seem effortless.”

--Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience


“It is very seldom that a science in its infancy is so skillfully unpacked that it reads like a detective novel. The fact that this science includes collaborative efforts of neuroscientists, psychologists, contemplatives, philosophers, and the full engagement of the genius of the Dalai Lama is not only fascinating, but uplifting and inspiring.   This book lets you know that how you pay attention to your experience can change your entire way of being.”

--Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Coming to Our Senses


“I have meditated for 40 years, and have long felt that the potential of mind training to improve our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being has barely been tapped.  Thanks to Sharon Begley’s fascinating book, though, that is about to change.  As human beings, we really do have inner powers that can make a world of difference, particularly if our goal is not merely to advance our own agendas, but to cultivate compassion for the benefit of all living beings.”  

--John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100, and Diet For a New America


“This is a truly illuminating and eminently readable book on the revolutionary new insights in mind sciences.  I recommend it highly to anyone interested in understanding human potential.” 

--Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart



From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Sharon Begley, science columnist for The Wall Street Journal, inaugurated the paper's 'Science Journal' in 2002. She was previously the senior science writer at Newsweek, covering neuroscience, genetics, physics, astronomy, and anthropology. The co-author of The Mind and the Brain, she has won many awards for her articles She is a frequent guest on radio and television, including The Charlie Rose Show, Today Weekend, CBS's The Early Show, and Imus in the Morning. She lives in New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

I found this book very interesting.
Amazon Customer
Train your Mind, Change your Brain is a fascinating look at new discoveries in neuroplasticity and their relation to Buddhist practice.
Z. M. Ridgway
This book did a lot to help me improve my life without magic thinking.
Mr Night

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

580 of 598 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Bockett on January 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Contrary to what the title may suggest, this is not a training manual for the brain. The book is a fascinating and convincing account of recent discoveries in brain neuroplasticity (i.e. its `pliability') even into old age, and the amazing implications of such discoveries. Sharon Begley states, "Yes, the brain can change, and that means we can change." For those looking for a magic bullet, she adds that it is not easy. "Neuroplasticity is impossible without attention and mental effort."

Those who have worked in fields such as psychology, education, gerontology and various social services will no doubt have observed unexplained and seemingly miraculous events with their clients and students. This book gives answers to their questions. For example, working as an occupational therapist in gerontology a number of years ago, I was stunned when an elderly (and chronic) stroke victim suddenly raised her paralysed arm to bat a balloon in a lighter version of volley ball. There was an "aha" moment when I read the chapter "New neurons for old brains."

This book also gives credence to the Superlearning trend of a decade ago, which met with a great deal of scepticism at the time. There were those, like myself, who used it anyway, purely on instinct, and met with amazing outcomes we could not explain. Anecdotal, of course, but Begley's book gives the following example some weight: While in my sixties, I decided to test out on myself what I had successfully used on the children. I undertook papers at university after forty years break from education, but reducing the study time by two thirds (using the Superlearning protocol.) It worked far better than I had dared hope; the 'grandmother' amongst students a third her age achieving the 90th percentile.
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273 of 283 people found the following review helpful By D. Buxman TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this book is based upon the Mind and Life Institute's 2004 Conference with the Dalai Lama, this is not a book about Buddhism, but rather a study of neuroplasticity; addressing the question of whether or not the brain is fixed or flexible in its structure and capabilities. For years, we have been taught that the development and enhancement of the brain stops at a very young age and that it is not possible to change it. Recent studies, however, have shown that the brain can be re-wired through various cognitive techniques. While some of this research deals with the impact of meditation on brain structures, there is also very interesting material concerning the ways in which the brain accomodates for various disabilities such as blindness or loss of hearing.

If you are interested in the latest developments for treating dyslexia and depression, or in ways to prevent mental deterioration brought about by aging, this is an excellent place to look. This book demonstrates that you can teach old dogs new tricks and that you can combat genetic determinism through cognitive methods, rather than psychotropic drugs (not something that the makers of Prozac want you to know). Although the subjects explored are complex, Ms. Begley does a great job of keeping the book interesting without oversimplification.
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Brunello VINE VOICE on February 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been practicing meditation and am a keen follower of mindfulness techniques for the last twenty years. I have believed in the transformative potential for meditation mediated neuroplasticity, which is the main theme of the book, for much of that time. I was also aware of the collaboration of H.H. the Dalai Lama with neuroscientists over the last few years to discover the nexus between science and Buddhism.

I thought the book did a credible job of covering these areas, albeit in a non exciting way (at least for me).

I think the title is misleading. "Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain" implies the delivery of a actionable personal strategy , or at least the promise of action. Instead, the book delivers a fairly dry synopsis of the current state of science and the relative nature of that science to the Dalai Lama's conception of the interface of science and the ancient Buddhist system relying on insight derived through meditative practice. Those are two distinctly different foci for the potential reader who may be looking for different things based solely on the title.

One implies the book will deliver a personalized strategy. The other implies a review of the science and the amazing potential for all of us.

The book fails to deliver on the first, and is a reasonable guide to the second.

So to my evaluation of the book:
* Be sure you read the description carefully of the contents before you use the "1-click" button. Be sure this is what you want.
* If you want the science, this is a good overview.
* If you want something actually actionable immediately, research Amazon's listing and buy something written by John Kabat-Zinn or Thich Nhat Hanh and just begin with their simple suggestions.
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133 of 141 people found the following review helpful By AskNed on January 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this lucidly written, very readable and compact volume, science writer Sharon Begley explores the recent convergence of learning about the mind and the brain through two very different approaches: Western science, in particular neuroscience and medical studies of the brain; and Eastern (Buddhist) philosophy, including mental training via meditation. As the book explains, recent research has documented changes in the brain that were once held to be impossible, changes wrought by conscious, focused mental effort on the part of the brain's owner. This emerging science has opened up wide vistas of possibility, ranging from mitigation of mental disorders that originate in brain (dys)function, such as OCD or the after-effects of stroke, to improving one's character by becoming more humane and compassionate. This book makes you think humanity may have a future after all, despite so much current evidence to the contrary, if we are wise enough to harness this powerful new knowledge to expand the common goodness of people everywhere.

The book's central message is a little like the old joke about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb--mind/brain change comes to an individual who really wants to change, and has the will to exert the needed effort. But techniques of mental discipline can be learned, and with proper motivation we can truly "re-wire" ourselves, potentially to eliminate violent or selfish impulses, for instance. The Dalai Lama is one leader who has already grasped the significance of the new science of neuroplasticity. Let us hope many others can follow in his footsteps. I highly recommend this book, which is readily understandable even for those with a minimal scientific background.
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