Cover image for Aware : the science and practice of presence : the groundbreaking meditation practice / Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Title:
Aware : the science and practice of presence : the groundbreaking meditation practice / Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
ISBN:
9781101993040
Publication Information:
New York : TarcherPerigee, [2018]

©2018
Physical Description:
xiii, 379 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Abstract:
"This groundbreaking new book from New York Times bestselling author Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., introduces readers to his pioneering, science-based meditation practice. Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a life-changing tool for cultivating more focus, presence, and peace in one's day-to-day life. An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation's effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle "Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows." Siegel reveals how developing a Wheel of Awareness practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life. Whether you have no experience with a reflective practice or are an experienced practitioner, Aware is a hands-on guide that will enable you to become more focused and present, as well as more energized and emotionally resilient in the face of stress and the everyday challenges life throws your way"-- Provided by publisher.

"Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention that can help one grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in their life"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

New York Times bestseller · This groundbreaking new book from New York Times bestselling author Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., introduces readers to his pioneering, science-based meditation practice.

Aware provides practical instruction for mastering the Wheel of Awareness, a life-changing tool for cultivating more focus, presence, and peace in one's day-to-day life.

An in-depth look at the science that underlies meditation's effectiveness, this book teaches readers how to harness the power of the principle "Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connection grows." Siegel reveals how developing a Wheel of Awareness practice to focus attention, open awareness, and cultivate kind intention can literally help you grow a healthier brain and reduce fear, anxiety, and stress in your life.

Whether you have no experience with a reflective practice or are an experienced practitioner, Aware is a hands-on guide that will enable you to become more focused and present, as well as more energized and emotionally resilient in the face of stress and the everyday challenges life throws your way.


Author Notes

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding codirector of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute. He is also coauthor of Parenting from the Inside Out, The Whole-Brain Child, and Mindsight and the proud father of two children in their twenties.


Excerpts

Excerpts

There are three learnable skills that have been shown in carefully conducted scientific studies to support the cultivation of well-being. When we develop focused atten­tion , open awareness , and kind intention , research reveals we:   1. Improve immune function to help fight infection;   2. Optimize the level of the enzyme telomerase, which repairs and maintains the ends of your chromosomes, keeping your cells-- and therefore you - youthful, functioning well, and healthy;   3. Enhance the "epigenetic" regulation of genes to help prevent life- threatening inflammation;   4. Modify cardiovascular factors, improving cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart function; and   5. Increase neural integration in the brain, enabling more coordina­tion and balance in both the functional and structural connectiv­ity within the nervous system that facilitates optimal functioning, including self-regulation, problem solving, and adaptive behavior that is at the heart of well-being.   In short, the scientific findings are now in: your mind can change the health of your body and slow aging. In addition to these concrete discoveries, we have the additional, more subjective, yet equally powerful findings that cultivating these aspects of mind--how you focus attention, open awareness, and guide intention toward kindness and caring-- also increases a sense of well-being, connection to others (in the form of enhanced empa­thy and compassion), emotional balance, and resilience in the face of challenges. Studies reveal that as a sense of meaning and purpose increase, an overall ease of being-- that some call equanimity-- is nurtured by these specific practices.   These are all outcomes of strengthening your mind by expand­ing the container of consciousness. The word eudaimonia is derived from the Greek term, and it beautifully describes the deep sense of well-being, equanimity, and happiness that comes from experiencing life as having meaning and connection to others and the world around you. Does cultivating eudaimonia seem like something you'd like to place on your to‑do list in life? If you experience this quality of being already in your day‑to‑day living, these practices of training attention, awareness, and intention may enhance and reinforce where you already are in life. Wonderful. And if it feels like these features of eudaimonia are distant or perhaps unfamiliar to you, and you'd like to make these more near and dear to your everyday existence, you've come to the right conversation.   The Wheel of Awareness is a useful tool I've developed over many years to help expand the container of consciousness.   I've offered the Wheel to thousands of individuals around the world, and it's proven to be a practice that can help people develop more well-being in both their inner and interpersonal lives. The Wheel practice is based on simple steps that are easy to learn and then apply in your everyday experiences.   The Wheel is a very useful visual metaphor for the way the mind works. The concept came to me one day as I stood looking down at a circular table in my office. The tabletop consists of a clear glass center surrounded by a wooden outer rim. It occurred to me that our awareness could be seen as lying at the center of a circle-- hub, if you will--from which, at any given moment, we can choose to focus on a wide array of thoughts, images, feelings, and sensations circling us on the rim. In other words, what we could be aware of could be represented on the wooden rim; the experience of being aware we could place in the hub. If I could teach people how to expand that container of con­sciousness by more freely and fully accessing the Wheel's hub of awareness, they'd be able to change the way they experienced life's tablespoons of salt, and perhaps even learn to savor life's sweetness in a more balanced and fulfilling way, even if there were a lot of salt present at the time. As I looked down at this table, I saw that the clarity of that glass hub might represent how we become aware of all of these tablespoons of life, each of the varied experiences we could become aware of, from thoughts to sensations, which we might now visualize as being placed on the circle around this hub--the table's outer wooden rim.   The Wheel was designed as a practice that could balance our lives by integrating the experience of consciousness. How? By distin­guishing the wide array of knowns on the rim from each other and from the knowing of awareness in the hub itself, we could differen­tiate the components of consciousness. Then, by systematically con­necting these knowns of the rim to the knowing of the hub with the movement of the spoke of attention, it became possible to link the differentiated parts of consciousness. This is how by differentiating and linking, the Wheel of Awareness practice integrates consciousness.   The essential idea behind the Wheel was to expand the container of consciousness and, in effect, balance the experience of conscious­ness itself. Balance is a common term that we can understand scien­tifically as coming from a process that can be called integration--the allowing of things to be different or distinct from each other on the one hand, and then connecting them to each other on the other. When we differentiate and link, we integrate. We become balanced and coordinated in life when we create integration. Various scientific disciplines may use other terminology, but the concept is the same. Integration--the balancing of differentiation and linkage--is the ba­sis for optimal regulation that enables us to flow between chaos and rigidity, the core process that helps us flourish and thrive. Health comes from integration. It's that simple, and that important.   A system that is integrated is in a flow of harmony. Just as in a choir, with each singer's voice both differentiated from the other singers' voices but also linked, harmony emerges with integration. What is important to note is that this linkage does not remove the differences, as in the notion of blending; instead it maintains these unique contributions as it links them together. Integration is more like a fruit salad than a smoothie. This is how integration cre­ates the synergy of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Likewise, this synergy of integration means that the many aspects of our lives, like the many points on the rim, can each be honored for their differences but then brought together in harmony.   In my own journey as a clinician, working within the framework of a multidisciplinary field called interpersonal neurobiology, reflect­ing on our mind as a self-organizing way we regulate energy and information flow inspired me to try and find strategies to create more integration in my patients' lives in order to create more well-being in their bodies and in their relationships. When we integrated consciousness with the Wheel of Aware­ness, people's lives improved. Many individuals have found the Wheel of Awareness a skill-building practice that empowers them in quite profound ways. It transformed how they came to experience their inner, mental lives-- their emotions, thoughts, and memories--opened new ways of inter­acting with others, and even expanded a sense of connection and meaning in their lives. Excerpted from Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence--The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice by Daniel Siegel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part I The Wheel of Awareness: Idea and Practicep. 1
An Invitationp. 3
Cultivating Well-Being by Developing Attention, Awareness, and Intentionp. 4
A Practical Toolp. 6
A Travel Guide to the Mindp. 12
Stories of Using the Wheel of Awareness: Harnessing The Power of Presencep. 15
Billy and His Return to the Hubp. 16
Jonathan's Respite from His Emotional Roller Coasterp. 16
Mona and the Sanctuary of the Hubp. 17
Teresa, Trauma, and Healing with the Integration of the Wheelp. 18
Zachary: Finding Meaning, Connection, and Relief from Painp. 22
Preparing Your Mind for the Wheel of Awareness: Focused Attentionp. 25
Building the Regulatory Aspect of the Mindp. 25
Some Starting Tipsp. 27
A Mindsight Lensp. 32
Breath Awareness to Stabilize Attentionp. 34
What Is the Mind?p. 40
Three Pillars of Mind Trainingp. 46
Focal and Non-Focal Attentionp. 50
Monitoring Attention and Awarenessp. 53
The Basic Wheel of Awarenessp. 59
Maps, Metaphors, and Mechanismsp. 59
The Basic and the Full Wheel of Awarenessp. 61
A Map of the Basic Wheel of Awarenessp. 65
Practicing the Basic Wheel of Awarenessp. 68
Reflecting on Mind: Your Experience of the Basic Wheelp. 72
Kind Intentionp. 78
Weaving Kindness, Empathy, and Compassion into Your Lifep. 79
Integration, Spirituality, Healthp. 91
Our Inner and Inter Selvesp. 93
Building Compassion with Statements of Intentionp. 95
Reflecting on Kind and Compassionate Intentionp. 102
Deepening the Wheel Practicep. 105
Open Awarenessp. 107
Exploring the Hubp. 107
Reflecting on Knowingp. 111
Energy Around the Wheelp. 112
Consolidated Wheel Practicep. 117
Part II The Wheel of Awareness and Mechanisms of Mindp. 121
Mind and the Energy Flow of the Bodyp. 123
Minding Your Brainp. 128
Your Head Brain in a Hand Modelp. 130
The Default Mode Networkp. 135
How to Integrate the DMNp. 138
Loosening the Grip of a Separate Selfp. 143
Clinging Versus Attachmentp. 146
The Fourth Segment of the Rim and the Relational Mindp. 151
Growing an Integrated Brain with Mind Trainingp. 156
Integration in the Brain and the Spoke of Focal Attentionp. 160
How and Where Does Awareness Arise?p. 160
Awareness and the Integration of Informationp. 166
Attention, Consciousness, and the Social Brainp. 169
The Hub of Knowing and Possible Mechanisms of the Brain Beneath Pure Awarenessp. 174
The Nature of Energy, The Energy of Mindp. 183
Science, Energy, and Experiencep. 183
The Energy of Naturep. 186
Energy as Probabilityp. 202
A 3-P Diagram of Energy Flowp. 214
Mapping the Mind as Peaks, Plateaus, and a Plane of Possibilityp. 218
Awareness, The Hub, and a Plane of Possibilityp. 231
Awareness and the Plane of Possibilityp. 231
Brain Correlates of Pure Consciousnessp. 234
Filters of Consciousnessp. 238
Filters of Consciousness and the Organization of Experiencep. 238
How Top-Down and Bottom-Up Shape Our Sense of Realityp. 243
Plateaus, "Self," and the Default Mode Networkp. 248
One Personal Set of Filtersp. 253
Pure Awareness and the Filters of Consciousnessp. 256
The Oscillatory Sweep of Attention: A 3-P Loop, a Spoke of the Wheelp. 258
Sweep Ratios, States of Mindp. 264
Awe and Joyp. 274
A Table of Correlations Among Mental Experience, Metaphor, and Mechanismp. 276
Part III Stories of Transformation in Applying the Wheel: Harnessing The Hub and Living from the Plane of Possibilityp. 279
Offering the Wheel as an Idea to Children: Billy and the Freedom of the Hub, the Spaciousness of the Planep. 282
Teaching the Wheel to Adolescents: Jonathan and Calming the Roller Coaster of Plateaus and Peaksp. 288
The Wheel for Parents and Other Care Providers: Mona and the Freedom from Recurrent Plateaus and Peaks of Chaos and Rigidityp. 295
The Wheel in Healing Trauma: Teresa and the Transformation of Traumatic Filters of Consciousnessp. 301
The Wheel, Professional Life, and an Awakened Mind: Zachary and Accessing the Planep. 320
Part IV The Power of Presencep. 331
Challenges and Opportunities of Living with Presence and Being Awarep. 336
Freedom: Transforming into Possibilityp. 344
Presence Beyond Methodsp. 347
Mindful Awareness and Integrationp. 350
Linking from the Planep. 352
Laughing, Living, and Dying from the Planep. 354
Leading and Loving from the Planep. 359
Acknowledgmentsp. 363
Selected References and Readingp. 367
Indexp. 369

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