Buddha’s Brain: Chapter one recap and discussion

Buddha’s Brain is not what you would call a “light read.” I have a tendency to skim or speed read if I’m not careful, and that method of reading doesn’t work with this book. Even the first chapter, which is effectively an introduction to major themes and an overview of what’s to come, is full of concepts that require the reader to slow down and truly ingest what is being said.

As the introduction to this book, chapter one sets out to explain why it is possible to use your own mind to change the way your brain functions. Right off the bat it’s clear that we will learn facts about the brain and how neuroscience has determined the brain works, as well as practical theory that can be applied by training your thoughts toward mindfulness and positivity. The three disciplines mentioned that will be utilized in this book are psychology, neurology and contemplative practice. An example of contemplative practice is described as:

“For instance, when Tibetan practitioners go deep into meditation, they produce uncommonly powerful and pervasive gamma brainwaves of electrical activity, in which unusually large regions of neural real estate pulse in synchrony 30-80 times a second (Lutz et al. 2004), integrating and unifying large territories of the mind.”

We also get our first introduction to the influence of Buddhism on this book with a reference to Siddhartha and his three pillars of Buddhist practice: virtue, mindfulness and wisdom. According to the book, these Buddhist pillars correspond to three fundamental functions of the brain: virtue with regulation, mindfulness with learning, and wisdom with selection. It is indicated that later in the book we will learn more about each of these trifectas.

The thesis of this books is grand, but tempered in this first chapter by statements solidifying the importance of the narrative, and ensuring the reader that strengthening your brain is not the process of sprinting a mile, but rather of walking consistently many steps. An example:

“Every day, ordinary activities – as well as any personal growth or spiritual practices – contain dozens of opportunities to change your brain from the inside out.”

Additionally:

“Small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time, as you gradually build new neural structures. To keep at it, you need to be on your own side.”

I’m truly looking forward to continuing reading this book, and putting its recommendations into practice. I hope you will join me. I’m sending you joy, wherever in the world you may be.

Would you like more posts like this? Check out the other posts I’ve made on this subject:

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One thought on “Buddha’s Brain: Chapter one recap and discussion

  1. Pingback: Buddha’s Brain: Chapter two recap and discussion | Find Joy, Speak Love

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