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The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body Paperback – December 16, 2008
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"Fehmi and award-winning science writer and journalist Robbins present a convincing argument for the effectiveness of neurofeedback in a self-help format for those who want to try the techniques. . . . This well-written book will be of interest to anyone in the alternative healing community."—Library Journal
“Based on thirty-plus years of research and professional experience, this book reveals a startling truth: how you deploy your attention in your daily life is centrally important for your mental and physical health. It also describes a breakthrough methodology for overcoming depression, anxiety, and other hard-to-manage emotional states. As a colleague of Dr. Fehmi from the earliest days of brainwave-biofeedback research, I can trust the credibility of his reports. He is a creative and critical thinker in the field. I heartily recommend this book.”—Joe Kamiya, PhD, research psychologist at Langley Porter Institute of Psychiatry
“I’ve used the Open-Focus techniques in my work with NFL players, and I’ve shared this knowledge with other athletes and coaches. These attention exercises are applicable across all disciplines.”—Bob Ward, Director of Sports Science, former conditioning coach for the Dallas Cowboys
“The techniques described in this book can make life fuller, more enjoyable, and more productive. I recommend it.”—Andrew Weil, MD, author of Healthy Aging
About the Author
- Item Weight : 10.7 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 1590306120
- ISBN-13 : 978-1590306123
- Paperback : 208 pages
- Dimensions : 6.02 x 0.55 x 8.97 inches
- Publisher : Trumpeter; 1st edition (December 16, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #161,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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*my sleep is much sounder
*my dreams are much more vivid
*my senses are much sharper
*I am more relaxed throughout the day
*I laugh more
*finally, I have a proven method of reducing or eliminating pain.
Now, this is only after a month, mind you. I really do feel sorry for the reviewers who gave up so easily because they didn't "have the time," or it was "too hard." Like almost anything worthwhile, it's a little difficult at the beginning but it gets easier and easier. I now look forward to my meditation time with the CDs. (By the way, there are many more CDs/mp3 downloads from the author's website. Order these when you start to get bored and rotate them through. That way the meditations continually stay fresh.)
A big thank you to Les Fehmi for providing the tools to a richer life.
As a psychologist who does some physiological research, I was impressed with the background information presented. I also found that I completely recognized the techniques described. I am not a chronic pain sufferer, but use these techniques habitually to help me focus and remember things without taking notes. In any case, I found it a very clear book that I would recommend to people interested in learning to techniques to help them improve their attention generally and to cope with pain in specific.
Consider: Maharshi used the "Who am I?" mental question. That's the practice he most often gave. The idea was that if every other thought was "Who am I?" then the mind would turn back on itself and, well, basically, rest. Dr Fehmi, excuse me if I don't put this exactly right, but it seems to me that if, when we are in "narrow focus" we bring in the thought/feeling of space, timelessness, and silence, those are categories that the mind cannot really relate to and so it rests, gives up for a moment.
Consider: in Dzogchen and other "spacious disciplines" everything that happens is happening IN space. A practice I was given was to consider all thoughts and images AS occurring in space. Space everywhere, space pervading, space infinite and containing the image/thought/movement. Yet space--"diffuse attention"--cannot exactly be alone, by itself, except as it contains "narrow focus".
So the two work in tendem. As Dr Fehmi says, to be in narrow focus AND to bring in thought/feeling of space, brings more balanced and integrated being.
Consider: therevada asks us to pay attention to everything we are doing, putting exclusive attention on what is happening "now".
Well....for someone such as myself who has been addicted to "narrow focus", as I assume most of us in Western culture are, that is not the way to go. "Diffuse attention" corrects the imbalance of narrow focus, utterly goal directed thinking.
Consider: Some of the Tibetan and other disciplines DO advocate both narrow and diffuse styles of attention. But I never understood that until I read, and began practicing open focus.
Open focus is and will be my practice from here on out. I found it interesting that Dr Femhi wrote that many people who had been through the program admitted that later on the only practiced when they needed to. I hope to avoid that because, as he said,
and as I have seen in my practice of it, anxiety, worry etc., CAN be diffused and leveled immediately, rather than being stored away and accumulating.
I am just truly amazed. Open focus is what I've been searching for. Not more knowledge, not endless practices, not endless accumulation of bits and pieces of stuff. HOW I attend is the most important thing.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you've been searching and haven't found, maybe that's because the search ends when you begin to know HOW to attend to what is.
The exercises in the book are simple, direct and minimal. The mind seems to know when to give up, surrender, rest, when confronted with categories it cannot address. Much like zen koans: What is the sound of one hand clapping? Eventually, the mind surrenders and rests. But it seems to me that happens much faster with open focus. And isn't it pleasant to think that our minds can actually rest, that we don't need to be in a state of "narrow focus" all the time? As he says, we are addicted to the narrow focus style of attention--but we don't have to be.
Top reviews from other countries
First off the book explains what open focus is but it took me a while to grasp it. It wasn't until I read the first exercise that I 'felt' what open focus is about. I feel the book does require a few reads. More importantly, I felt I was very drawn to re-reading it, especially after listening to the cd.
Let me try a technique he uses in open focus. So while you are reading this review, imagine the distance of the screen from your eyes while still reading. Then see the edges of the computer screen yet still managing to read. Notice the spaces between each of the lines of words. Can you feel your shoulders? Can you feel if your arms and fingers are tense? Are your eyes relaxed? Still keep reading yet feel your tightness as you are still reading. Perhaps you can soften that tension and still maintain focus. Perhaps that feels more relaxed and now less urgent?
So one of the ideas is to still function but we don't always need what's known as 'narrow focus' or 'hyper-focus'. This is the focus that uses a high level of energy, tension and focus. We don't always need this type of focus with everything we do. This type of focus is very effective at getting things done, but unless we have a knowledge of 'different types' of focus, we can burn out. We don't always need to use narrow-focus for every task and every conversation. There are lots of other things we could do in open focus, enjoy them more and maybe even do a better job. An obvious one is reading. When I did the exercise he gave while reading I noticed my tension and softened it, especially the tension I was using to hold the book.
There is a cd with the book. The exercises on them are really brilliant. For me, going through the exercises really helps digest the sense of open focus.
One of the main themes of open focus training is to focus on space and spaces. Something like the space between your eyes. On the cd there are 15 second pauses between focuses. So imagine the distance from your eyes to the tip of your nose. pause. Imagine the volume of your lips. pause. The idea is not to say "oh its an inch" but more the greater depth of the space, such as the space between the atoms in the space.
The first of the two long guided sessions is working the head, shoulders and upper back. The second works the whole body. The voice on the cd is very pleasant.
What this book does very well is point out that we are living as if everything is urgent. Yet a lot of the time we aren't aware of it. Our culture rewards this type of focus. We are taught it at school; "stop daydreaming"; "pay attention"; "concentrate". A lot of the time we were paying attention but we look relaxed, or our gaze wasn't looking 'focused' enough.
Theres a lot of scientific biofeedback to back up this open focus training to move the practitioner very quickly into alpha waves using what is know as "imageless imagery".
Les Fehmi has been working with being "a student of how human beings attend both to the world around them and to their internal world of emotions and thoughts" for over 40 years. He's worked with Dallas Cowboys(American Football), the New jersey Nets, and the Olympic Development Committee.
At the time of writing this review there are no other reviews. So to read more reviews use the link in the address bar, delete the .co.uk and replace with .com and that should take you straight to amazon.com and their 20 reviews of this book.
Creator of the Beginner Tai Chi (DVD)
My personalised take on how to describe such intelligent and diligent writing.
Les Fehmi has delivered a masterstroke, in that if you've read neuroscience then this book is the extra dimension to your knowledge base.
A must read and I have to say, a deserved five stars.