Memorability’s Book Club: Mindsight By D Siegel
There is no life without tragedy or personal loss.
In a world still filled with so many biases, and with inequality, we are faced with prejudice, oppression and abuse. We lose love, jobs or health.
There is also no life without beauty and resilience.
There is love, and opportunity, and purpose. With these opposites, you need be able to celebrate beauty and embrace joy. You need to respond to challenges. You need to learn to thrive, using both good and bad experiences. You need to find your silver linings.
This is not an easy task, but it is not an impossible task either.
Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Malcolm X. Caster Semenya. Malala Yousafzai. Ken Saro Wiwa. Inkosi Albert Luthuli.
How did they find resilience?
How did they find hope despite injustice and cruelty?
Yes, they were exceptional but you have resources that you can tap into as well. These resources can help you to cope, and to thrive.
Do you know people with amazing resilience?
Do you know people who seem to transcend challenges?
Your grandparents? Parents? Uncles, aunts, friends, community leaders? There are so many people that have overcome despair, who were reliant on internal resources. I marvel at their strength and resilience. Do you?
What can you do to increase your resilience?
First you need to understand yourself. You need to understand which habits and thoughts are harmful, which are helpful. Art, has an amazing potential to increase resilience by activating a part the brain important in self-reflection, which can help you with this. Then work out manageable steps to correct those that are harmful, as gently as possible. (For more on art and the brain: Modern Art at the Border of Mind and Brain.)
Is it possible to change your brain and increase resilience?
As I’ve discussed in my post on The Beautiful Brain, your brain has amazing potential, beyond what science can explain. Your brain is also plastic throughout life. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to grow and adapt, it’s how we learn new information. And this information is not just of facts, but also how we respond to stress and happiness, and our emotional patterns. Memorability’s focus on brain health is cohesive. Memorability’s Book Club aims to to stimulate the brain and stimulate thought. Books suggested are in keeping with Memorability’s focus on brain health.
Mindsight is an excellent resource to start understanding yourself better, and then to help yourself in the best way possible.
The Book: Mindsight by Daniel Siegel
In Mindsight, Daniel Siegel shares stories and practical advice to change your brain.
Why will you love it?
A brilliant, different perspective on the brain, the mind, it’s potential, and in fact, your potential. With case studies to illustrate the power of the mind, the usefulness of emotions and the science behind this, you will understand your strength and your capacity for change.
On the Wisdom of Mindsight
Daniel Siegel’s approach to well-being focuses on three principles:
1. You can learn how to live well, and be well.
2. As the skills to learn how to live well are learned, the structure of the brain changes. New circuits are formed in your brain that help with resilience, empathy, and compassion.
3. Integration is an important part of this process. This involves integrating different parts of ourselves, and connecting with others in a healthy way.
In Mindsight, Siegel shares stories of people who were able to transcend habits, and patterns, that were harmful. From sixteen year old Jonathon, to ninety-two year old Stuart, these personal stories provide inspiration.
Jonathan, is a teen suffering from possible bipolar mood disorder. To help Jonathan, one of the techniques Siegel uses is mindfulness. Siegel describes mindfulness as, ‘a form of mental activity that trains the mind to become aware of awareness itself and to pay attention to one’s own intention…It teaches self-observation…is a form of internal tuning in to oneself that enables people to become their own best friend.’ Jonathan learned to understand his emotional responses to experiences, and then find a healthier way to respond.
My favourite, is the story of Stuart. At ninety-two Stuart reluctantly started therapy with Siegel. He had been referred by his son, who was concerned that he was depressed. Siegel found that Stuart had an ‘emptiness’ and was ‘flat’. Stuart had a lifetime pattern of avoiding emotions which had developed as a coping mechanism in childhood. Using techniques such as focusing on bodily sensations, reflection, and imagery work, Stuart was able to analyse his thoughts and emotions, feel openly, and deal with different experiences. One year after their last session, Stuart sent Siegel a note, ‘I cannot tell you how much fun I’m having. Life has new meaning now. Thank you.’ Siegel adds, ‘I thank him for teaching me, for teaching all of us, how resilient our integrative brains can be.’
You need to learn to thrive, using both good and bad experiences. You need to find your silver linings.
What is different about this philosophy?
Learn about the brain, and emotions, and what you can change. Whether you’re seventeen or ninety two, you have the potential to live well. There is no magic in this. You need effort, awareness & discipline. You need skills that help you to move forward. It is a powerful message. While you are not in control of the experience, you are in control of your response to the experience.
My favourite quote from Mindsight
‘Early experience is not fate: If we can make sense of our past- if we integrate our narratives- we can free ourselves from what might otherwise be a cross-generational legacy of pain and insecure attachment…taking responsibility for one’s own mind can lead to liberation of the self, and to the ability to love and nurture the next generation.’
This is the essence of Mindsight. You can use your vision to change your mind. You can change your perception which defines your reality. You need effort, awareness & discipline. While you are not in control of the experience, you are in control of your response to the experience. Read more here.
Further reading suggestions
1. The Road Less Traveled- M. Scott Peck
“In thinking about miracles, I believe that our frame of reference has been too dramatic. We have been looking for the burning bush, the parting of the sea, the bellowing voice from heaven. Instead we should be looking at the ordinary day-to-day events in our lives for evidence of the miraculous, maintaining at the same time a scientific orientation.”
2. The Power of Now- Eckhart Tolle
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
3. The Prophet- Kahlil Gibran
“For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.”
Are there guides for this journey that you would recommend?
Are you motivated to learn about your strength, hope and resilience?
Be inspired. Stay Motivated. Keep on learning.
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