Mind: A Journey to The Heart of Being Human
What is mind? Is it brain activity resulting in consciousness?
Are mind and consciousness synonymous with each other?
Is self-awareness an illness that leads to despair, or is physicality a curse that creates the delusion of separateness leading to alienation and melancholy?
Defining the mind might limit its nascent quality; however, a definition can provide a necessary frame of reference in order to develop better understanding of what the mind is. Daniel J. Siegel, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and founding co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, has taken on the task of defining, identifying, and elucidating what this entity categorized as “mind” could be. Siegel has successfully and brilliantly conveyed his innermost experiences and transduced them into meaningful words that communicate a common truth in his new book titled Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human. Moreover, he goes beyond explaining how neurons fire and attempts to establish a tentative definition of the human mind.
Siegel’s volume is all about the venture that delineates the mind beyond its usual descriptions, and examines the scientific basis for proliferating healthy minds. The book consists of 10 chapters starting with a welcome chapter that explores the mind’s curiosity with itself and the discussion of the common views about what mind is and what the brain does. Chapters two and three investigate the system of mind, self-organization and information flow, while chapters four and five discuss mindsight as directed awareness in health and healing, and the centrality of subjectivity. Furthermore, chapters six, seven, and eight delve into the neuroplasticity, cultural systems, integration as the purpose of life, and exploring presence in mind and moment. The book ends with chapters nine and ten in which the author evaluates the continuum that connects consciousness, cognition, and community, the possibility of the existence of a plural self, and the process of identity integration between mind and physical property.
Employing a wide range of disciplines including psychiatry, psychology, religion, sociology, philosophy, quantum physics, and art, Siegel attempts to ascertain what mind is or might be. Through the use of eloquent, personal, precise, and fluent writing style he effectively conveys his insights. In addition, Siegel gently takes the reader on a panoramic expedition into the mind as he offers both his personal contemplations and speculations laced with scientific knowledge in a cohesive form.
Moreover, the author attempts to weld spirituality and science, and suggests that humans have a deep-seated need to transcend their sense of separateness by fusing the “me” and “we” into unified identity that he named MWe. Therefore, he goes beyond his psychiatric training and rhetoric as he attempts to connect to a deeper truth that binds people to the world. In his endeavor to define the mind, he skillfully edifies how definitions and comprehension interact to convey our innermost experiences. Additionally, he identifies the mind as a function of a system that consists of intentional energy and information flow within the body and between us and other entities-other people and the larger environment in which we live. However, he also emphasizes that the language we use and the language that surrounds us interconnects, enlightens, and constrains us all at once. These contrasts that the author presents are profound yet confusing as a quality cannot admit its opposite without negating itself. Nevertheless, Siegel attempts to unify these contrasts by incorporating existential concepts with spirituality creating an unlikely mélange of holistic ideas.
Finally, Mind: A Journey to The Heart of being Human is an outstanding and inspirational volume that will appeal to a wide audience. It will unequivocally transport the reader into a spiritual voyage with scientific blend combined with personal reflections, perceptions, and intentionality constituting an electrifying and illuminating reading.