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Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience…

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

by Rick Hanson, Richard Mendius (Collaborator)

Other authors: Jack Kornfield (Preface), Daniel J. Siegel (Foreword)

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"Buddha's Brain" contains a great mix of neuroscience and meditation practice. It is written for people without a scientific background but, as a biological scientist, I knew where he was going with some of the explanations and I really enjoyed them. How you can actually change your brain's behavior is something no one would have talked about 20 years ago, because it was thought that mature nerve cells could not change. Science is now catching up with Buddhist philosophy and it is very exciting. Also, the idea of pondering the "self" as a collection of different parts of the brain rather than a unit is a fascinating concept. The less one thinks of "self" as a unit, the less stress there is to make it "happy". This is better explained in the book, so I encourage people to read it rather than listen to me.

From my perspective the book is divided into 2 parts. The first part acquaints you with different parts of the brain - which part is involved in higher order thinking, where emotions are processed and how they function as a unit sometimes - or not. The second part of the book is more a series of suggested meditation exercises designed to have positive effects on your mood by regulating different parts of your brain. Although I read the entire book through, I think it would be better to read the second half one chapter at a time. Each day, a chapter could be read and the suggested exercises performed. That way one would have time to absorb the lessons more deeply. I hope to go back and do that some day. ( )
  krazy4katz | Mar 19, 2014 |
Finally a book about meditation/mindfulness that cuts through the buddhist chatter and focuses on what is important. ( )
  jefware | Feb 13, 2014 |
A brilliant piece of research. Some readers may find it a bit dry, as it reads a bit like a research paper (which it essentially is), but it is just wonderful. Just the idea that science is proving the common sense of Buddhist principles makes me happy. Hopefully it makes other people happy too. ( )
  BooksForDinner | May 7, 2013 |
Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom is exactly what its title suggests--a practical guide to meditative practices and the neurochemistry to explain why striving to act like Buddha leads to a sense of enlightenment and peace. Written by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., with contributions from Richard Mendius, MD, both of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, this book is a nice balance of hard science and spiritual guidance.

The book is well organized, with sections focusing on the transformative nature of the brain, the causes of suffering, and how to achieve happiness, love, and wisdom. The intricate dichotomy of mind vs. brain is explored through a scientific and evolutionary lens. There are several mental exercises and guided meditations to encourage a peaceful, open mind.

The most interesting part, in my opinion, is the concept of the self. Buddha's Brain examines the evolutionary and neurological realities that make the self necessary, yet the irony is that clinging to the self is often a major cause of suffering. Letting go of the self is the most liberating and challenging practices in which to engage.

Because Buddha's Brain is so full of information that I had to read it in small sections; the most I ever read in one sitting was one chapter. Upon reaching the end of a section or chapter, I felt the need to ruminate over all that I had read to really absorb and understand the content. I feel like I learned many useful things from this book, and not just information, but information and practices that I can apply in my daily life as a person and as a teacher. I would definitely recommend Buddha's Brain to anyone looking for ways to improve relationships with yourself and with others.
1 vote jessicaundomiel | Feb 24, 2012 |
From Publishers Weekly:

The brain physiology associated with spiritual states has been fertile ground for researchers and writers alike. Neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Hanson suggests that an understanding of the brain in conjunction with 2,500-year-old Buddhist teachings can help readers achieve more happiness. He explains how the brain evolved to keep humans safe from external threats; the resulting built-in negativity bias creates suffering in modern individuals. Citing psychologist Donald Hebb's conclusion that when neurons fire together, they wire together, Hanson argues that the brain's functioning can be affected by simple practices and meditation to foster well-being. Classic Buddhist concepts such as the three trainings—mindfulness, virtuous action and wisdom—frame Hanson's approach. Written with neurologist Mendius, the book includes descriptions and diagrams of brain functioning. Clear instructions guide the reader toward more positive thoughts and feelings. While the author doesn't always succeed at clarifying complex physiology, this gently encouraging practical guide to your brain offers helpful information supported by research as well as steps to change instinctive patterns through the Buddhist path.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Hanson and Mendius successfully answer the question: How can you use your mind to strengthen positive brain states and ultimately change your life?
  saraswati_library_mm | Mar 15, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rick Hansonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mendius, RichardCollaboratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Kornfield, JackPrefacesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Siegel, Daniel J.Forewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This book is about how to reach inside your own brain to create more happiness, love and wisdom.
Truly, you're here because a lot of stars blew up. Your body is made of stardust. Your mind also depends on countless preceding causes.
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"Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and other great teachers were all born with a brain built essentially like anyone else's. Then they used their minds to change their brains in ways that changed history. With the new breakthroughs in neuroscience, combined with insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, you, too, can shape your own brain for more joy, deeper relationships, and spiritual growth. This very practical teleseminar will focus on how you can take charge of your own brain with self-directed neuroplasticity. If you can change your brain, you can change your life" -- www.shiftinaction.com… (more)

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