Book: Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom
Authors: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. with Richard Mendius, MD
With May being National Mediation Month, I want to share a book that I’ve found can help you begin to train your brain to be more like Buddha’s brain and less of a burning brain.
Since I began practicing yoga I’ve had an interest in understanding how and why it has such a positive effect on my life compared to other forms of exercise or relaxation. While I now have a clear understanding that asanas (yoga poses) in and of themselves can only take you so far in your practice of yoga, I still find myself intrigued by exactly how moving your body in and out of yoga poses, working with your breath and prana (energy) in pranayama exercises, along with focusing and stilling your mind through meditation can actually change your perception of the world and help your life flow more smoothly.
When I stumbled upon Buddha’s Brain at Maple Street Books I was naturally drawn to its combined approach of using neuroscience, psychology and Buddhist contemplative practice to help the layman understand how the mind can change the brain. While this isn’t a book focused on the science of yoga, it does shed light on how the brain changes through practices that are similar to many yoga techniques.
The first part of the book lays the groundwork in very simple terms for the reader to understand the mind, brain, nervous system and endocrine system. While some of this isn’t exactly written in a way that makes you want to stay up all night until you get to the end, it is very useful information for those of us who aren’t neuroscientists. It helps you understand what is chemically and physically happening in the body when thoughts and feelings arise.
The book goes on to focus on three main areas: happiness, love and wisdom. Contemplative and meditative practices are interspersed throughout to give you an opportunity to practice the concepts that are backed up by scientific facts and research. Each chapter ends with a bulleted “key points” section which allows a quick review of the highlights of that section.
In short, if you have an interest in learning why you feel so good after you practice yoga and how you can cultivate more of this content state in your daily life, Buddha’s Brain can help you recognize that mindful practice creates happiness, love, wisdom and an understanding of your true nature.
This book review first appeared on www.yogalagniappe.com.