Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation – Daniel J. Siegel

From Wikipedia:

Daniel J. Siegel (born September 2, 1957) completed his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and his post-graduate medical education at UCLA. His training is in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. Dr. Siegel is currently clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. Siegel was the recipient of the UCLA psychiatry department’s teaching award and several honorary fellowships for his work as director of UCLA’s training program in child psychiatry and the Infant and Preschool Service at UCLA. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.

Mindsight – TOC:

PART I • THE PATH TO WELL-BEING: Mindsight Illuminated

1 • A Broken Brain, a Lost Soul:
The Triangle of Well-Being 
Minding the Brain: The Brain in the Palm of Your Hand 
2 • Crepes of Wrath:
Mindsight Lost and Found 
Minding the Brain: Neuroplasticity in a Nutshell 
3 • Leaving the Ether Dome:
Where Is the Mind? 
Minding the Brain: Riding the Resonance Circuits 
4 • The Complexity Choir:
Discovering the Harmony of Health

PART II • THE POWER TO CHANGE: Mindsight in Action

5 • A Roller-Coaster Mind:
Strengthening the Hub of Awareness 
6 • Half a Brain in Hiding:
Balancing Left and Right 
7 • Cut Off from the Neck Down:
Reconnecting the Mind and the Body 
8 • Prisoners of the Past:
Memory, Trauma, and Recovery 
9 • Making Sense of Our Lives:
Attachment and the Storytelling Brain 
10 • Our Multiple Selves:
Getting in Touch with the Core 
11 • The Neurobiology of “We”:
Becoming Advocates for One Another 
12 • Time and Tides:
Confronting Uncertainty and Mortality

Epilogue • Widening the Circle: Expanding the Self 

Quotes from the book:

When adults are in tune with a child, when they reflect back to the child an accurate picture of his internal world, he comes to sense his own mind with clarity. This is the foundation of mindsight. Neuroscientists are now identifying the circuits of the brain that participate in this intimate dance and exploring how a caregiver’s attunement to the child’s internal world stimulates the development of those neural circuits.

Neuroplasticity is the term used to describe this capacity for creating new neural connections and growing new neurons in response to experience.

“The human mind is a relational and embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information.”

Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds.

Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.

People sometimes hear the word mindfulness and think “religion.” But the reality is that focusing our attention in this way is a biological process that promotes health—a form of brain hygiene—not a religion.

The bottom line is never pass up the opportunity to look hard at any work of art (even those frogs), and pass your fingers over its surface (if you’re allowed), and ask a bunch of sharp questions.

Here’s another thing we know for sure: When we block our awareness of feelings, they continue to affect us anyway.

Neurons that fire together, wire together. In memory terminology, an experience becomes “encoded” by the firing of neurons in groups. The more often these neural clusters, or “neural net profiles,” fire, the more likely they are to fire together in the future.

one of my greatest teachers—had a powerful saying: “Memory retrieval is a memory modifier.”

For me, the explanation lies in some of the most exciting research done in psychology during the past thirty years: the ongoing exploration of early attachment. We have discovered that our early relationships shape not only how we narrate the stories of our lives when we reach adulthood, but also how our minds develop in infancy and childhood.

Attachment patterns are one of the few dimensions of human life that appear to be largely independent of genetic influence.

But anyone who doubts the influence parents have on their children must deal with these extensive studies of attachment. They demonstrate clearly that what parents do matters enormously.

The best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to his parents as children, but rather how his parents made sense of those childhood experiences.

The way we feel about the past, our understanding of why people behaved as they did, the impact of those events on our development into adulthood—these are all the stuff of our life stories.

Writing in a journal activates the narrator function of our minds. Studies have suggested that simply writing down our account of a challenging experience can lower physiological reactivity and increase our sense of well-being, even if we never show what we’ve written to anyone else.
It is never too late to heal the mind and to bring to ourselves and to those around us the compassion and kindness that arise from that healing and integration.

All addictive behavior, from gambling to the use of drugs such as cocaine and alcohol, involves activation of the dopamine system.

The brain is a social organ, and our relationships with one another are not a luxury but an essential nutrient for our survival.

Attuned couples link together in a mental lovemaking, a joining of minds, in which two people create that beautiful resonant sense of becoming a “we.”

As he’d learned to say, “A feeling is not a fact.”

Yes, the prefrontal cortex enables our mind to plan, dream, imagine, and reflect—and to continually reinvent itself as life moves forward. It creates the seemingly infinite potential of the human mind. But these capacities come at a price.

The brain has a bias for making the world appear solid and stable.

“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”*

There is only the ongoing challenge of remaining open to whatever may arise, pain and pleasure, confusion and clarity, step by step along our journey through time.


From Wikipedia:

* The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The prayer has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs.

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