The Mind's Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation Hardcover – Nov 24 2011
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The Mind's Own Physician is a journey of understanding, in which an integrative dialogue unfolds between the spiritual leaders of contemplative meditation and scientists at the forefront of mind-body medicine. This transformative conversation provides valuable insight into how meditative practices can balance the mind with effects on the body, as well as, potential benefits for human health. This blending of contemplative traditions with Western science opens a mindful awareness that has the empowering capacity tofully engage people in their health, and more broadly, in the well-being of our societies."
-Michael R. Irwin, MD, Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
" The Mind's Own Physician offers us a precious portal into the seminal conversations that gave birth to the nascent field of contemplative neuroscience. The issues digested, debated, and ignited in its pages will serve as a road map and inspiration for my students and their students over the coming decades."
-Amishi P. Jha, PhD, contemplative neuroscientist, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Miami
"If you want to see how to build bridges between the deepest wisdom of the heart and the highest standards of contemporary neuroscience, look no further. This series of meetings between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Western scientists and meditation teachers will prove to be epoch-changing, and this book shows why. Here, you will find interior and exterior empiricism in exquisite dialogue. Drink it all in. The brilliance of the participants shines through on every page."
-Mark Williams, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford, Director, Oxford Mindfulness Centre
"Can meditation improve your health? This question is just the starting point for a series of innovative exchanges across different ways of knowing among first-ranked clinicians, scientists, Buddhist teachers, and the Dalai Lama. Thoughtful, rigorous, and surprising by turns, this dialogue reminds all of us who care about the effects of the mind on health just how much more thinking remains to be done."
-Anne Harrington, PhD, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, author of The Cure Within
"Our thoughts can seem too real, giving our imaginings about tomorrow the power to create chronic stress and unhealthy changes in our bodies. Our sense of self can seem too fixed, creating a cage where our habitual worries can run in depressing circles. In the moment that we recognize our thoughts as thoughts and our habits as habits, new and liberating possibilities emerge for the way we live our lives. Contemplative traditions such as Buddhism have long seen the transformative power of thatsimple moment of recognition, and more recently, clinicians in various domains have discovered the potential that this contemplative insight offers for the treatment of chronic stress, depression, and other especially modern maladies. Yet the potential of interventions based on contemplative approaches has only begun to emerge. The full realization of that potential requires a careful, critical, and honest dialogue among contemplatives and scientists so as to allow research and clinical practices to develop effectively. This remarkable book provides a fresh and clear record of such a dialogue. Informative and highly accessible, The Mind's Own Physician is a groundbreaking moment in the development of contemplative science."
-John D. Dunne, Associate Professor of Religion, Emory University
"A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how Buddhist contemplative traditions and Western scientific traditions can work together to uncover the complexities of the human mind. Mind and Life has done it again: engaged a group of distinguished contemplative scholars, clinicians, and scientists in a lively, productive, and inspiring dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that furthers our understanding of meditation and its potential to heal."
-Jeanne Tsai, Associate Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, Director, Stanford Culture and Emotion Laboratory
"This book marks a milestone in the emerging field of contemplative sciences. Within its pages, you can relive a seminal 2005 Mind and Life conference that brought together world-famous neuroscientists, clinicians, and contemplative scholars in a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This groundbreaking work explores the development of scientifically based tools and programs aimed at creating more balanced and healthy lives. How does stress evolve? What does it do to our minds and bodies? How can we use ancient mindfulness and meditative practices in our everyday, modern lives and also in clinical settings to reduce stress and cultivate healthier minds? This book is a must for everyone who is interested in making this world a more human place."
-Tania Singer, PhD, Director, Department of Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
"Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson bring together an internationally acclaimed cast of neuroscientists and scholars for a stimulating dialogue with the Dalai Lama. They weave a rich tapestry of information on how meditation can be useful for a wide variety of conditions, ranging from depression and stress to anxiety and psoriasis. In easy-to-understand, conversational style, the experts lay out how the mind's powerful healing effects can be harnessed in ways that are becoming increasingly illuminated by scientific discoveries."
-Stuart J. Eisendrath, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, Director of the UCSF Depression Center
"It is most befitting that this wonderful book, composed from Mind and Life dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, would appear after the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Accompanied by greatly increasing psychophysiological stress, anxiety, and depression, the post-9/11 decade has yielded an auspicious upsurge of rigorous scientific and clinical research on mindfulness meditation and other systematic methods of mental training that may help transcend the pain and suffering caused by such harmful afflictions. The Mind's Own Physician highlights these exciting advances through a series of insightful discussions between His Holiness and a diverse group of stellar contemplative scholars, scientists, and physicians who are leaders in the field of integrative mind-body-brain medicine. Everyone who wishes to cultivate a sound body and sane, healthy mind in these turbulent times will welcome the publication of these inspiring conversations."
-David E. Meyer, PhD, Clyde H. Coombs, and J. E. Keith Smith Professor of Mathematical Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Michigan
" The Mind's Own Physician brings you straight into the heart of a remarkable interchange between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, renowned contemplative teachers from Buddhist and Christian traditions, and world leaders in neuroscience, psychiatry, stress physiology, and clinical medicine. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard Davidson guide the reader through an authentic chronicle of a landmark meeting of extraordinary minds as it unfolds through a series of crystalline presentations and probing dialogues about the nature of mind, meditation, and brain function. These dialogues provide the foundation for discussion on the biological effects of chronic stress, treatment and relapse prevention in depression, and the historical and evolutionary roots of Western medicine's struggle to understand and care for the whole person. The highly accessible and rich treatment of each of these areas is fascinating to read. The constant presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's deeply engaged attention, teaching, and critical ear reverberates throughout. The participants' common commitment to fostering the conditions necessary for human flourishing through intercultural and interdisciplinary inquiry is truly inspiring. In capturing this arc of information and intent, The Mind's Own Physician becomes an essential treatment of one of the most hopeful directions in thought alive today: the human capacity to ease our suffering through introspective insight and our growing scientific investigation into how this may occur."
-Clifford Saron, PhD, Associate Research Scientist, University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain
About the Author
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society. He is professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and author of numerous books, including Full Catastrophe Living , Arriving at Your Own Door , and Coming to Our Senses .
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Top Customer Reviews
regarding the benifits of meditation on the mind , particularly regarding the treatment of depression , attended by the leading scientists in that field of study at the time. The results were very positive. While the book is an overwhelming endorsement
encouraging the study of meditation , it is not a mediation manual.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, the information presented is fascinating, and done in bite-size chunks that lay readers can mostly understand ('lay' referring both to non-Buddhists and non-scientists.) I say 'mostly' because although I am very familiar with Buddhism, I am most definitely not a neuro-scientist (although I have read a lot of meditation related research), and the more technical brain discussions did get a bit over my head. However, in most cases the question and answer sessions brought things back down to a practical level that I could understand.
The conference sessions, and the book, are divided into 5 themed sections: Meditation-Based Clinical Interventions, Biological Substrates of Meditation, Meditation and Mental Health, Meditation and Physical Health, and Integration and Final Reflections. Each features 1-3 speakers presenting their research, followed by a panel discussion with questions and answers (in some cases including questions from the audience.) The panels are themselves a who's who of Western Buddhism, featuring names that will be familiar to many - Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Alan Wallace, Jon Kabat-Zinn and more. For the first time a Christian representative, Father Thomas Keating, was included as well.
That being said, most of the discussion is secular in nature. The principal discussion is how MBSR (mindfulness-based-stress-reduction) and MBCT (mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy), both based on Buddhist practices but developed in a secular context outside of them, impact the brain, and how they can be utilized to heal and to maximize human potential. The greater emphasis is placed on the former - on clinical applications to both mental and physical health ailments. Research presented addresses the proven and potential impact of MBSR and MBCT for managing the impact of stress, clinical depression, and chronic pain, as well as for changing negative thought and emotional patterns and developing positive ones.
In that sense, this really isn't a 'science of spirituality' kind of book, as it doesn't spend a lot of time looking at spiritual and mystic experience or beliefs per se (for that consider Fingerprints of God: What Science Is Learning About the Brain and Spiritual Experience). And although it is possible to extrapolate from the research presented here to develop practices for yourself, this also isn't a personal spirituality book (for a presentation of some of this info for that purpose, try another book by the Mind Life Institute Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves).
But if you are looking for a current (2005 being current in the science research world) and accessible overview of the science behind meditation and mindfulness, and how these may impact humanity on many levels, this is a great offering.
The dialogue in this book was aimed at finding mediation and mindfulness practices that could be incorporated in medicine. There are very many ways to mediate as HH Dalai Lama states. He didn't have an educational background in medicine, biology so he needed more information about the terms or how things worked, he asked questions. He was asked to and gave a summary of the principle themes in Buddhism. That also helped to make sure that no one was getting lost when he was using terms common in Buddhism.
Since I don't want to give too much away in the findings explored and the commonalities of Buddhist thought and modern neurobiology, I will just mention a little of what was discussed in Session One.
Pain was discussed. HH Dalai Lama explained there are two parts to pain (1) the pain itself and (2) the arrows around it or the feelings around it. We ask ourselves, will this ever end? It is killing me; will it ever get any better? Buddhist meditation can do nothing about the pain but it can change the added pain of thoughts about the pain. And that can help people feel better. That part of the burden can be lifted and the person with pain can feel freer.
A research study on psoriasis was given as an example of using mediation as a healing tool. Both the control group and the experimental group were given UVB or PUBA light treatments. But only the experimental group also listened to meditation tapes. But as illustrated in this book, the graphs showed that the group who listened to the tapes healed faster than those who just received the light treatment.
This book does still have a lot of religious and medical terminology that you need to learn in order to understand the concepts so it is not a book that you can read quickly. I recommend reading about one session and then letting the book sit for a while. That way, you can come up with your own questions and perhaps explore something in more detail that was brought up in a chapter.
I recommend this book to everyone interested in learning about the benefits and limitations of meditation to medical problems.
I received this book from the GoodReads program but that in no way influenced my review.
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