Siddhartha's Brain: Unlocking the Ancient Science of Enlightenment

James Kingsland. Morrow, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-2403858
Guardian science editor Kingsland presents a fascinating exploration of the studies of enlightenment—where the experience of meditative spiritual practice meets the rigors of scientific research. Kingsland suggests that the ubiquitous presence of psychiatric illnesses may be alternatively understood as an "extreme manifestation of ordinary human condition," and if this is the case, the practice of meditation should (in theory) alleviate afflictions caused by a mental apparatus gone haywire. To fix the errant mental system, Buddhism prescribes meditation: one pays attention to the breath, practices non-judgmental awareness, and calmly observes the landscape of thoughts. Kingsland skillfully dives in and out of various subjects—the neurological relaxation response to meditation, the difference between pain and suffering, emotional regulation—and effectively paints a neurological picture of the mind without devaluing Buddhism's spiritual image of cognition. Science shows that meditation reworks neurological networks to better regulate and manage the emotions; in short, being a good, contented human being is a skill that can be learned. Based on this idea, Kingsland offers guided practices at the end of every chapter, ranging from attention to the breath to metta (loving-kindness) meditations. Kingsland's book is a cursory but fascinating exploration of the neuroscience behind meditation, and he offers a wonderful starting point for further research and practice. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Religion
MP3 CD - 978-1-5047-3094-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-244519-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-9513-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5046-9512-1
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-240387-2
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-240386-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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