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

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Overview

If you change your brain, you can change your life.

Great teachers like the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and Gandhi were all born with brains built essentially like anyone else’s—and then they changed their brains in ways that changed the world. Science is now revealing how the flow of thoughts actually sculpts the brain, and more and more, we are learning that it's possible to strengthen positive brain states.

By combining breakthroughs in ...

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

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Overview

If you change your brain, you can change your life.

Great teachers like the Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and Gandhi were all born with brains built essentially like anyone else’s—and then they changed their brains in ways that changed the world. Science is now revealing how the flow of thoughts actually sculpts the brain, and more and more, we are learning that it's possible to strengthen positive brain states.

By combining breakthroughs in neuroscience with insights from thousands of years of mindfulness practice, you too can use your mind to shape your brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom. Buddha's Brain draws on the latest research to show how to stimulate your brain for more fulfilling relationships, a deeper spiritual life, and a greater sense of inner confidence and worth. Using guided meditations and mindfulness exercises, you'll learn how to activate the brain states of calm, joy, and compassion instead of worry, sorrow, and anger. Most importantly, you will foster positive psychological growth that will literally change the way you live in your day-to-day life.

This book presents an unprecedented intersection of psychology, neurology, and contemplative practice, and is filled with practical tools and skills that you can use everyday to tap the unused potential of your brain and rewire it over time for greater well-being and peace of mind.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wonderfully comprehensive book. The authors have made it easy to understand how our minds function and how to make changes so that we can live happier, fuller lives."
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness

"Solidly grounded in the latest neuroscientific research, and supported by a deep understanding of contemplative practice, this book is accessible, compelling, and profound—a crystallization of practical wisdom!"
—Philip David Zelazo, PhD, Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

"This is simply the best book I have read on why and how we can shape our brains to be peaceful and happy. This is a book that will literally change your brain and your life."
—Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman’s Comfort Book and The Life Organizer

"Buddha’s Brain is a significant contribution to understanding the interface between science and meditation in the path of transformation. Illuminating."
—Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace and One Dharma

"Buddha’s Brain is compelling, easy to read, and quite educational. The book skillfully answers the central question of each of our lives—how to be happy—by presenting the core precepts of Buddhism integrated with a primer on how our brains function. This book will be helpful to anyone wanting to understand time-tested ways of skillful living backed up by up-to-date science."
—Frederic Luskin, PhD, author of Forgive for Good and director of Stanford Forgiveness Projects

"I wish I had a science teacher like Rick Hanson when I went to school. Buddha’s Brain is at once fun, fascinating, and profound. It not only shows us effective ways to develop real happiness in our lives, but also explains physiologically how and why they work. As he instructs us to do with positive experiences, take in all the good information this book offers and savor it."
—James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy and cofounder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center

"With the mind of a scientist, the perspective of a psychologist, and the wise heart of a parent and devoted meditator, Rick Hanson has created a guide for all of us who want to learn about and apply the scintillating new research that embraces neurology, psychology, and authentic spiritual inquiry. Up-to-date discoveries combined with state-of-the-art practices make this book an engaging read. Buddha’s Brain is at the top of my list!"
—Richard A. Heckler, PhD, assistant professor at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA

"An illuminating guide to the emerging confluence of cutting-edge neuropsychology and ancient Buddhist wisdom filled with practical suggestions on how to gradually rewire your brain for greater happiness. Lucid, good-humored, and easily accessible."
—John J. Prendergast, PhD, adjunct associate professor of psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies and senior editor of The Sacred Mirror and Listening from the Heart of Silence

"Buddha’s Brain will show you how mental practices, informed by the contemplative traditions, can increase your capacity for experiencing happiness and peace. This book provides a scientific understanding of these methods, and clear guidance for practices that cultivate a wise and free heart."
—Tara Brach, PhD author of Radical Acceptance

Publishers Weekly
The brain physiology associated with spiritual states has been fertile ground for researchers and writers alike. Neuropsychologist andmeditation 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. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572246959
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Series: Unassigned Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,210
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a neuropsychologist and meditation teacher. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, he cofounded the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and edits the Wise Brain Bulletin. He and his wife have two children.
 
Richard Mendius, MD, is a neurologist and cofounder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. He has taught medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, and Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. He also teaches weekly meditation classes at San Quentin State Prison. He and his wife have three children.
 
Foreword writer Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is executive director of the Mindsight Institute and an associate clinical professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of The Developing Mind, The Mindful Brain, and other books, and is founding editor of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology.
 
Preface writer Jack Kornfield, PhD, is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. He is author of many books, including A Path with Heart and The Wise Heart.

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Table of Contents

Foreword v

Preface vii

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Self-Transforming Brain 5

Part 1 The Causes of Suffering

Chapter 2 The Evolution of Suffering 23

Chapter 3 The First and Second Dart 49

Part 2 Happiness

Chapter 4 Taking in the Good 67

Chapter 5 Cooling the Fires 79

Chapter 6 Strong Intentions 97

Chapter 7 Equanimity 109

Part 3 Love

Chapter 8 Two Wolves in the Heart 121

Chapter 9 Compassion and Assertion 137

Chapter 10 Boundless Kindness 157

Part 4 Wisdom

Chapter 11 Foundations of Mindfulness 177

Chapter 12 Blissful Concentration 191

Chapter 13 Relaxing the Self 205

Appendix Nutritional Neurochemistry Jan Hanson, L.Ac. 227

References 235

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    A must read!

    You have to follow the instructions, and not just 'read' this book. If you do, it will help you to slowly re-wire your brain. This is not a religious book, but more like a handbook for the mind.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Excellent book, IMO.  Highly recommended for anyone who is inter

    Excellent book, IMO.  Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Buddhism from a secular statement rather than a religious standpoint. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    one of the most important books you will ever read

    Do yourself a favor and read tis book. It will change the way you live your life.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2013

    Great Book!

    In addition to the podcast, this book is a great read!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    Not bad book

    Good book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Pratical Neurology

    This book is both practical and profound. The practices are areligious and always backed with scientific evidence.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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