Book Notes

February 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Train Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life

Stress — Our minds seem to focus inordinately on what’s wrong, what will go wrong, and what has gone wrong.  How do we become more resilient and train ourselves, our children and patients to handle stressors more effectively when we seem hard-wired to focus on stress?

Train Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life presents a course in Attention and Interpretation Therapy (AIT) by Dr. Amit Sood, Director of Research and Practice, Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program and Chair of Mayo Mind Body Initiative at Mayo Clinic.  Dr. Sood offers a two-step program to enhance attention, decrease stress, cultivate peace, joy and resilience, and to practice presence with love through Attention and Interpretation Training.

The AIT program teaches how to actively engage your brain’s higher center, the pre-frontal cortex.  This decreases negative ruminations and enhances engagement with the present moment in two steps:  Train Your Attention and Refine Your Interpretations.  The program’s journey takes you away from past worries and pulls you back from future fears to focus on the present moment, from lesser to higher wisdom, from suffering to joy, from ego to self.

The components of attention training address the 3Ds of attention: direction, depth and duration.  It is possible to train your brain, engage your heart and increase your presence in the here-and-now to decrease your “attention black holes.”  You learn how to be in the present moment and in the world without needing an outside event that is threatening or unusually pleasing to find joy.  Practicing the skills will guide you to discover the novelty that already exists in your world.

Dr. Sood teaches that joy is not contingent on something extraordinary happening externally.  This journey emphasizes finding joy in ordinary events: a healthy meal, children playing, a kind email, or beauty in nature.  He defines resilience as your ability not only to withstand adversity, but to bounce ever higher, sometimes even as a result of disruptions that occur in your life. Readers learn to develop resilience by being grateful for blessings, accepting the present moment, learning to focus on compassion, cultivating greater forgiveness, and anchoring in higher meaning and purpose in your life.

In the second step of refining interpretations, Dr. Sood emphasizes five core teachable skills based on higher principles of gratitude, meaning and purpose, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness. These concepts can provide an immediately available alternative to negative ruminations.

Often people are trapped, sometimes for decades, in the stress center or limbic system of their brains, thus increasing their suffering.  Dr. Sood has no doubt that you have a way out. He invites you on this journey to bring the joy and wonder of a child along with the forgiveness and compassion of a realized adult.

All profits to the author from this book are used to support underprivileged children in the world.

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