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Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,517 Ratings  ·  405 Reviews
Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and other great teachers were born with brains built essentially like anyone else's. Then they used their minds to change their brains in ways that changed history.

With the new breakthroughs in neuroscience, combined with the insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, you, too, can shape your own brain for greater happiness, love,
Paperback, 1st edition, 252 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by New Harbinger Publications
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The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggThe Brain That Changes Itself by Norman DoidgeBuddha's Brain by Rick HansonIncreasing Intuitional Intelligence by Martha Char LoveChange Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen
3rd out of 55 books — 89 voters
Siddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIVZen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu SuzukiWhen Things Fall Apart by Pema ChödrönThe Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
A Buddhist Reading List
107th out of 686 books — 863 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alisa Bowman
Jun 05, 2012 Alisa Bowman rated it it was amazing
This book seemed to want to come into my life. I kept walking past it in the bookstore and it kept coming up as a recommendation on Amazon. Finally one day I broke down and bought it. I was not disappointed. In in, the authors take many of Buddha's teachings and show, through neuroscience, how they change the brain for the better. I've been meditating and studying Dharma for several years, but I still got a lot out of this book. The authors show how certain practices can rewire the brain--helpin ...more
Nicholas Litterski
Jul 11, 2011 Nicholas Litterski rated it it was amazing
Really enjoying this book.

It is well-laid out, not overly technical, and has a handy-dandy "review" section at the end of each chapter. I'm limiting myself to one chapter/day. I could definitely read it quicker, but that seems to defeat my purpose in reading a book like this. In explaining some of the emerging brain science surrounding motivation, happiness, and (Eastern) Wisdom: it succeeds fantastically. It is a nice mix of Western "why" and Eastern "practice". Hence "Practical Neuroscience".
Feb 07, 2012 Deb rated it really liked it
Shelves: brain-iac
An enlightening book, full of useful techniques to promote compassion, insight and wisdom. Many of the ideas were familiar, but that did not detract from the book. I liked the combination of neuroscience and meditative techniques. I will attempt to use the techniques in my daily life.

"All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy."

I wish all Goodreaders well!
Tara SG
Aug 10, 2014 Tara SG rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-kindle, nonfiction
* * * 3/4

In Six Words :
never thought about it like that

What I Loved :
As a non-Christian science nerd, this was geared towards me. Not to say that you couldn’t enjoy this book if you are a Christian (but you have to take the evolution sections with a grain of salt if that doesn’t fit with your beliefs) or that if you aren’t into science that this will be boring (this is probably the opposite).

I really enjoyed the sections that explained why we react the way we do to certain situations and related
May 16, 2013 Vishvapani rated it liked it
Buddha's brain is a model of how to write a self-help book about meditation and science, presenting complex material with outstanding clarity and making it accessible, readable and digestible. It distills the authors’ considerable understanding of both meditation and neuroscience into punchy advice and things that people can actually do. However, I came to it with some doubts about the whole project of expounding meditation in neuro-scientific terms and my response was mixed. Its scientific fram ...more
I only have a few things to say about this book. First of all it's heavy on the vocabulary of the brain. It basically gives you a science lesson throughout much of the book. The "exercises" in this book are more like tips for using the information. I should warn a lot of you that if you are interested in this book then use the physical copy or eBook and not the audio-book. This is a book that you may want to read slow and write notes in. I fell asleep twice to the audio-book and I'm not sure if ...more
May 29, 2012 Indiegoddess rated it it was amazing
I don't even know what to say - there's no coherent way I can review this book. It was truly one of the best most helpful books I've ever read, especially in dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. I learned so much from this book: the way my brain has developed, how it works, what helps it work the right way; exercises to calm and still myself. It was like a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) course without the therapists. :) If I weren't reading a Kindle copy it'd be dog-eared an ...more
Dec 14, 2011 Jonny99 rated it liked it
Less interesting than it sounds. Buddhism distinguishes itself from other religions by accepting the value of science. Hence, writing a book discussing the intersection of Buddhist practices and potential scientific bases for their value, particularly meditation in this case, is a peanut butter and chocolate fit. The neuroscience will be familiar to anyone with a few neurobiology classes behind them - the singulate gyrus, amygdala, pre-frontal cortex, brain wave variations and other familiar st ...more
Apr 04, 2011 Jennie rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
Buddha's Brain is a surprisingly quick, "easy" read, using neuroscience to explain why meditation and mindful awareness work to improve your contentment and get over bad experiences. For anyone who has ever dismissed meditation as hippie new age nonsense, or for those of us who just like to know why things work, this book presents the brain as a well-oiled machine: do this or that, and your brain is made to react in a certain way. In a way, it's inspirational; if you're having trouble "getting s ...more
Sep 30, 2014 Frank rated it liked it
I have to say that I was quite disappointed by this book. I bought it after hearing a talk by the author where he presented an introduction to the ideas in the book. I found the lecture interesting but tinged with a little bit of "the power of positive thinking" new age evangelism. Much to my chagrin, the same tone was present in the book. I found the scientific evidence presented to be thought provoking but limited and a little over simplistic and I do not know to what extent the research he pr ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Cj rated it it was ok
The ideas are worthwhile, but I found the writing-- especially the pacing-- disengaging. I would find my mind wandering away with no clear idea what I had just read. Obviously, I was not managing my Buddha brain while reading. The ideas are good and clear, but it just wasn't inspiring reading for me. Might give it another chance one of these days. I read about seventy-percent of it, so I'm in no real hurry to get back to it, sticking to my philosophy that there is no reason I should finish a boo ...more
Jeanine Marie Swenson
Jun 25, 2014 Jeanine Marie Swenson rated it it was amazing
One of the most difficult things in medicine is to present an incredibly complex subject in readable but simple and understandable language to reach every level of reader. Drs. Hanson and and Mendius do this beautifully and skillfully, to make this nonfictional work blending mind & body both broadly accessible and interesting. I really enjoyed and learned from this uniquely preventative and helpful guide to neuroscience with a gentle, spiritual twist.

Recently, you may have read the shocking
Jan 12, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it
This is a very interesting subject for me. This book is serious science, not fluffy new-age nonsense. It is very satisfying for me to learn exactly HOW something happens. I appreciated all the details of the nuts and bolts of neurology,always a fascinating subject. Most importantly the information within this gem is very encouraging. I can set my own self free from worry and depression that has haunted all my life. What little I have learned from other meditation resources so far does indeed wor ...more
Michael Greenwell
This book is a compelling marriage of practical elements of mindfulness and character development from Buddhism with a light neurological overview that allayed my preconceived skepticism of the practices described. I did find myself wondering why some elements were thoroughly referenced and other points simply stated, I understand that it is a book written for the popular press, but while I accept the results of mindfulness and meditative practices both intuitively and practically I don't think ...more
Sep 07, 2010 Happyreader rated it really liked it
Where this book may be of benefit is when it focuses on how one mental process can excite or inhibit another mental process. Kind of a book of Buddhist tips with brain anatomy lessons thrown in for scientific authenticity. For instance, if your mind is chattering away, do a body scan or bring a visual image to the forefront since it's difficult to be both visual and verbal at the same time.

Yet sometimes all that detail about the brain structure seemed extraneous and sometimes distracting to the
AJ LeBlanc
May 18, 2013 AJ LeBlanc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, health, cbr-v
When I’m not being judgmental, cold, cynical, sarcastic, fatalistic, angry, or hopeless, I try to be a better person. Have a positive attitude, practice active kindness, find beauty and good in the world and all that crap.

My therapist recommended Buddha’s Brain to me after I tried to explain that I sort of understood that my brain was telling me things that weren’t necessarily true. I understand on a logical level that my brain is trying to keep me alive and to fear change, even though in the lo
Jan 10, 2014 Michele rated it liked it
Read this book slowly, perhaps a chapter a day. I read it all in a couple of days, and that was a mistake because it got tedious and repetitive. If you're familiar with meditation practices, you'll be familiar with most of the practices presented. The neuroscience parts also aren't very detailed or deep, and the studies cited seem to be there just to help justify the benefits of meditative practice and not necessarily provide insight into the inner workings of the brain, which was a bit disappoi ...more
Jenny Choi
Jun 10, 2015 Jenny Choi rated it it was amazing
This book is very well organized about mindful practice. Especially the thing that I like most is summary . If it is possible, I want to memorize a whole book. hahaha
Ashley Seymour
Sep 08, 2015 Ashley Seymour rated it really liked it
If you want to know the science behind why you are such an anxious, worrying ape- read this book. I dug it. And have already successfully used some of the techniques to chill out.
Marcus Solberg
Aug 15, 2015 Marcus Solberg rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about what goes on in our brains in regards to happiness, love, and wisdom. The message is that if you can change your brain you will change your life - and you can! The book drawn upon buddhism and mindfulness practices, to which the authors applies cutting edge neuroscience in order to explain different processes and how you can take advantage of them. Neuroplasticity (the fact that our brains change according to how we use them) means that we can form practices (such as ...more
Apr 01, 2014 Jairo rated it liked it
Para mi propósito, tener mas detalles de las técnicas terapéuticas esbozadas en un articulo reciente en Psychtherapy Network, el capitulo 4, "Taking the Good", fue util. Resumiendo como Hanson recomienda externalizar lo positivo para combatir la tendencia cerebral de fijar la memoria en lo negativo:
1. Buscar una acontecimiento cotidiano y relativamente neutral del pasado o del presente y volverlo una experiencia positiva.
2. Saborear por varios segundos de 5 a 20, esa experiencia enfocandola en s
Aug 18, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it
Buddha's Brain describes how the parts of the brain and related hormones interact to cause happy or unhappy moods, and how meditation and related techniques affect those aspects of the brain beneficially. Its hopeful message is that we can affect our brains and thus our emotional lives by simple techniques using attention/mindfulness, breathing, and intentional, uplifting thoughts. The last chapter contains an interesting discussion on how our sense of self is distributed among different parts a ...more
Jul 29, 2013 Irene rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
In the beginning I was somewhat turned off by what I interpreted as the author's attempt to use neuroscience and psychology as a vehicle to "prove" the legitimacy of Buddhism. It was annoying, particularly coming from someone claiming to to have some scientific background. As the book continues however, it pays less homage to Buddhism and more to neuroscience. I find it a very illuminating book with practical suggestions as to practices which might help in the attainment of happiness.

In the last
Frank Jude
The sub-title of this book describes it's content and purpose: "The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom." Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and meditation teacher, and he does a good job explaining in lay-person's terms the neurological anatomy and functioning of the brain behind the effects of meditation.

The strength of this book is that it doesn't merely tell you what parts of the brain are involved in various functions like decision making, impulse inhibition, and emotions
Apr 21, 2013 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiration
I was delighted to find a book that mixes modern science with an age old tradition. The science is extremely clear and readable, and Hanson offers so many practical suggestions, some of which are quite fresh, giving the book added value. The practice of "taking in the good" is among my favorites and it alone was worth the price of the book. His guidelines for effective communication, based as they are on compassion AND how our brains work, expanded my understanding of reflective listening and gr ...more
Yuekun Liu
The book may be more attractive to those who have some basic knowledge in neuroscience. To be honest, the terminologies on brain structure are a little bit disturbing to me. Maybe I am not open-minded enough to embrace this new knowledge. Well, the figures there are very clear indeed.

The other thing I learn from the book is to love yourself and love others. And hope to practice to be mindful, which is a real challenge to me. lol.
Michael Harris
Jan 13, 2016 Michael Harris rated it it was amazing
Excellent, scientifically sound self-help. If you want to know why neuroscientists can't stop talking about Buddhism and meditation, 10% Happier by Dan Harris is a fun introduction, but Buddha's Brain serves as a foundation for actual practice, especially if – like me – you need to know why something works to feel comfortable diving in. Hanson is a vivid writer, and each chapter is chocked full of subtle practices to boost mindfulness, compassion, and a sense of peace.

Albert Einstein: "The reli
Mads P.
Feb 20, 2012 Mads P. rated it liked it
I enjoyed the talks on wisdom, love and happiness here, but those came after wading through all the technical talk about the brain. I'm glad doctors and scientists are learning more about which parts of the brain do what, but I'm not that interested in those types of anatomical specifics. I would have liked more detailed descriptions of the nature of mind and the different types of meditation. They get into this, but another source might be better if you want to go deep into the subject of medit ...more
Eric Pelot
Jan 04, 2012 Eric Pelot rated it it was ok
I have a lot of books on my reading list from recommendations given on this is one of those books. I've sort of been reading all the recommendations wholesale without any pre-screeing. I think that's going to have to change. This is the second book in the same number of weeks that was really more about self-help than about science/technology/futurism... which I was expecting from a recommendation made by that site. I guess I can see the tie-in with the bit of neuroscience that ...more
Ryan Brinkworth
Aug 16, 2015 Ryan Brinkworth rated it liked it
I enjoyed hearing about the workings of the brain, how it is shaped by events, and consequently shapes us. Many say We are what we eat. I now feel, just as importantly, the way we think shapes our thoughts. Taking a mindful approach gives us the best opportunity to best use our grey matter. Well, that's what I think anyway.
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Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books are available in 26 languages and include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. He edits the Wise Brain Bulletin and has numerous audio programs. A summa cum laude graduate of UCLA and founder of the Wellspring ...more
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“Nurturing your own development isn’t selfish. It’s actually a great gift to other people.” 17 likes
“The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences—and in particular, to take them in so they become a permanent part of you.” 12 likes
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