Mindsight is a book by Daniel Siegel. The book is broken down into two parts. The first part is a tremendous, fascinating, and clearly articulated explanation of the human brain, neuroscience, and its connection to our lived experiences. The second part is a collection of stories of how Siegel has applied this science through his own life and his practice as a psychologist. It’s a book about some of the most complex things being explored in the world of science today, all explained so clearly and concisely with wonderful examples, stories, and mental models to help make it easy easier to understand.
Here is a short summary of the concept from the author.
Here are three lessons I want to carry forward from Mindsight:
1. Understanding the Neuroscience of How the Mind Works
This is the most thorough and most easily understood description of neuroscience I’ve read. If you are interested or fascinated by neuroscience but don’t feel confident talking about it knowledgeably, this would be a great primer. Siegel uses things like his hand model model of the brain described below to help these complex notions and ideas stick.
He describes the neuroscience of the brain and the integration throughout the body. The mind is the brain/body integration that includes the brain between our ears and its connection through the nervous system regulating the flow of energy and information back and forth between brain and body. He also describes neuroplasticity (see below) and the applications of this science (some established and some emerging) in our day to day lives. The appendix of Mindsight is a great reference and summary of these concepts.
2. Neuroplasticity Allows Us to Change Our Brains
Neuroplasticity is simply the concept that the brain is malleable and shifts to rewire so that what it does often, it does well. It is an incredible awareness of how our brains function and how we can use attention, mindfulness, and practice to develop new patterns in our brains that better serve us. For more details on neuroplasticity and its applications, you can read my previous post here.
3. The Three Tools We Can Use to Literally Change Our Minds
Siegel describes the tools we can use to shift our brains and change patterns in many aspects of life.
The tools help us shift patterns that might be so well ingrained that they can seem like “that’s just who I am.” He describes how mindfulness, attention, and practice can help us shift from old patterns to new patterns. Mindfulness through breathing or meditation can help us slow down and give us a chance to notice and begin to shift patterns. Attention helps us notice old patterns and focus on developing new patterns. Practice helps those new patterns become as comfortable and efficient as old patterns as we rewire our brain through neuroplasticity.
Siegel shares stories of challenges he and his clients have faced and the effectiveness of applying this neuroscience approach including; managing mental health, relationships, overcoming childhood attachment issues, and many more.
How could you apply Mindsight in your own life?