Dorothy's Reviews > Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley
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's review
Dec 13, 2011

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Read from December 13, 2011 to February 08, 2012

I think I've discovered a new truth. I think that when it takes you way too long to read a book, you end up disliking it, even if you started off liking it. Especially nonfiction. That's what happened to me with this book!

It took me forever to finish reading this. Even then, I was skimming the last few pages. I just couldn't read it during my restful reading time (preferring my Anne of Green Gables series by far!), I couldn't read more than a couple paragraphs at a time with my one-year-old during the day, there was a book club book thrown in there, and I had to return it to the library and wait for it on hold again midway through . . . just too much time passed. Anyway.

I liked the concept of the book, and a good, clear writing style taught me about the fascinating world of neuroplasticity. I also learned about the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute, the work of many scientists over many years, and some Buddhist concepts. The problem was that by the time I tried to piece it all together, it wouldn't mix properly. I understand what the author was getting at, but I definitely wanted more about some key concepts.

There was a small mention about visualization -- mental preparation before performing -- to help one actually perform better, but I thought there would be a lot more on things like this. Such as, could you teach yourself to play guitar by honing your mental focus until your fingers did what you wanted? Could you tell yourself to not get frustrated over every little thing, until your brain rewired itself to be calm on autopilot? How would that work? But I guess that's not possible or not part of this book. There was a lot of historical and research explanation, but not much on crazy cool futuristic concepts that you can actually learn and do. I'm a practical person! I want to use crazy cool skills like these!

Considering the title, I was really hoping for some concrete ways I could "train my brain". It's nice that "mental training" can alter your physical brain and affect your emotions, happiness, fend off depression, etc., but I wanted the actual training and exercises I could do to get these benefits. I guess what I'm asking is, is there a companion workbook or something?

At one point she states that novice volunteers got a week of meditation training. I thought this book would give me some, too. I utterly fail every time I try to meditate! (Or maybe I don't. Every time I try to meditate, my mind goes blank and I fend off the stray thoughts -- to no ultimate effect that I can see -- or I fall asleep.) But even at that, the discussion of the Buddhist concepts and ways of meditating was a bit confusing for me. I just don't seem to get it.

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