- Hardcover: 387 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039370470X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393704709
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being Hardcover – April 17, 2007
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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.
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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)
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Top customer reviews
The book offers an incredible amount of information and understanding about the relationships between the functions and attributes of consciousness and the structures of the brain. It is really a "brain-mind" primer. The author is clearly of the opinion that mind is not merely an epiphenomenon of the brain, but an equal creator of it. If the brain is hardware, then the mind is the experiential aspect of using a computer--one step up from software, in fact. The number of areas the text touches upon is staggering: from child development to parenting, education, meditation, psychotherapy, you name it. Siegel is one of the leaders in this field, and the book offers an extensive bibliography of books and articles consulted in the writing. If someone has the time, a second reading is definitely warranted as the information can be overwhelming.
This is part of the problem with the text and why I'm not giving it five stars. It is at times repetitive, stating the same things over and over in different ways. This can make it feel poorly organized. Sometimes the discussion of brain structures is on the rather dry and technical side, and this can seem a little irrelevant at times, especially for non-specialists. This was another issue: I had the sense the author was unable to target a specific audience. Was he writing for neuroscientists or laypersons? Sometimes it seemed like the former, sometimes the latter. The text was as a result alternately overly technical and at other times just right (for me, at least). Often the figures and diagrams were not where they should have been and the writing seemed awkward--clear indications than an editor (or two) was asleep on the job.
Overall, this is a very good book--not entirely introductory--and this author clearly has much to offer. I am starting in now on MINDSIGHT, which, as noted, appears a more polished, more focused work. The science here is exciting and this book is just scratching the surface, a start and going in the right direction, it seems to me.
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. This book is about balancing our ability to look forward while remaining anchored in the present... the only place where love, happiness and peace could be found.
I work in this area and have graduate education in biology, biochemistry and psychology. This is my life's passion and I own many books on this topic and present workshops. This is in many ways the book I wish I had written although humbly I must admit Daniel Siegel would be an extremely difficult person to top. Hopefully, however, someday I will be able to add value by complimenting his and other people's good work.
It is worth the time to read it and a great book to read over again.
Awareness is a gift and this shows us how important this gift is in