A Calm Brain: Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System

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A successful life doesn’t mean you have to experience chronic stress. Now, Dr. Gayatri Devi shows in A Calm Brain how you can cultivate an optimal mental and physical state of focused peaceful awareness by tapping into your body’s hard-wired natural relaxation system.

Our ancestors used the fight-or-flight mechanism to protect themselves from predators. We use it to fend off daily crises. In a world filled with too many toys, too much technology, and too many choices—how can we ...

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A Calm Brain: How to Relax into a Stress-Free, High-Powered Life

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Overview

A successful life doesn’t mean you have to experience chronic stress. Now, Dr. Gayatri Devi shows in A Calm Brain how you can cultivate an optimal mental and physical state of focused peaceful awareness by tapping into your body’s hard-wired natural relaxation system.

Our ancestors used the fight-or-flight mechanism to protect themselves from predators. We use it to fend off daily crises. In a world filled with too many toys, too much technology, and too many choices—how can we possibly keep up? Our bodies have been trained to react to the beeps and alarms of all our different technologies, be it the ever present cell phone, an angry text message, or a frantic voicemail. The result is chronic stress and a learned inability to relax.

With a warm, lucid voice, Dr. Devi shares stories from her medical practice of ordinary people—suffering from migraines, neck pain, gastrointestinal upsets, and sleep deprivation— trying to work through life’s difficulties. With practical advice she shows just how to promote a higher “vagal tone,” and delivers the best news yet: you don’t need more drugs. Here are the keys to more tranquil, productive, and enjoyable life.

Dr. Devi explores a paradigm shift in our understanding of the brain’s relaxation mechanisms. It is hard for our brains to talk our bodies into feeling calm, but our bodies have strong wiring that makes true enduring calm possible. The body does this through the vagus nerve, a powerful conduit that taps directly into our brain’s built-in relaxation system. This revolutionary science can transform your work life and your home life.

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Editorial Reviews

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For the past two decades, studies have been released that link stress with illness, heart conditions, diabetes, and numerous other debilitating conditions. Fortunately, practicing neurologist and author Gayatri Devi (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Alzheimer's; Estrogen, Memory, & Menopause) is here to tell us that those reports are not just more troubling things to worry about. Her new book A Calm Brain taps recent research in neuroscience and her own extensive experience with patients to show readers how to cope with their most unsettling restless moments. Proven, drug-free approaches to calming yourself at every hour of the day. Editor's recommendation.

Kirkus Reviews
A neurologist who specializes in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and dementia explores how we can tap into "the neurology and physiology of our body's innate 'calm' mechanisms" to achieve greater health, happiness and success. The director of the New York Memory and Healthy Aging services, Devi (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Alzheimer's Disease, 2004, etc.) unravels the functioning of the core brain, where gut reactions are processed, and explains how we can train ourselves to relax and recharge in order to face the 24/7 pressures of the fast-paced modern world. The author describes the way in which the core brain works by controlling emotions and impulses as we navigate the outside world "and the vast environmental sensor and receptacle that is our body." Fight-or-flight reactions, as well as our relative sense of well-being or malaise, are mediated there by the vagus nerve, a frequently overlooked neural conduit that bypasses the spinal cord to connect with the body's organs. It provides a constant stream of information that tells the brain when to stress out and when to relax and monitors processes such as blood pressure. The core brain is the seat of the sympathetic nervous system, which releases an adrenaline surge when we perceive danger, and the parasympathetic system, which provides the all-clear signal when it is safe to calm down. Devi provides anecdotal evidence suggesting that meditation and yoga, by releasing bodily tension, cue the brain to relax, and she examines how affectionate gestures and shared laughter provide a similar release. A welcome alternative approach to overtaxing our brains and then reaching for the pill bottle--should warrant serious attention.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525952695
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/14/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Gayatri Devi is a neurologist and the director of the New York Memory and Healthy Aging Services. A clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, she is the president of the not-for-profit National Council on Women’s Health. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: My Grandfather's Secret 1

1 The Un-Calm, Modern Brain 11

2 The Core Brain, Architect of Calm 39

3 Getting to Calm from the Bottom Up 55

4 Why Ever Stress? 77

5 Top-Down Judgment 101

6 Gatekeepers 131

7 The Mother of All Calm 151

8 The Stress of the Two XX's 179

9 Calm Parenting Is Possible! 203

10 Weaving a Tapestry of Calm 221

References and Suggested Additional Reading 245

Index 263

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