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Aware

The Science and Practice of Presence

By Daniel J. Siegel
15-minute read
Audio available
Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence by Daniel J. Siegel

Aware (2018) is a no-nonsense, empirically-grounded look at a discipline traditionally more closely associated with monks than medical practitioners: meditation. Drawing on the latest neuroscientific research, practicing psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel shows that mindfulness is far more than the latest lifestyle hack – it benefits your mental and physical health. The added bonus? It’ll also make your experience of life more meaningful, joyous and profound!

  • Psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Meditators
  • The harried and stressed

Daniel J. Siegel is a psychiatrist working at the David Geffen School of Medicine in California. He specializes in the study of mindfulness and meditation and is the author of several popular books on the subject, including Parenting from the Inside Out and Mindsight.

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Aware

The Science and Practice of Presence

By Daniel J. Siegel
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence by Daniel J. Siegel
Synopsis

Aware (2018) is a no-nonsense, empirically-grounded look at a discipline traditionally more closely associated with monks than medical practitioners: meditation. Drawing on the latest neuroscientific research, practicing psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel shows that mindfulness is far more than the latest lifestyle hack – it benefits your mental and physical health. The added bonus? It’ll also make your experience of life more meaningful, joyous and profound!

Key idea 1 of 9

Meditation doesn’t just make you feel better; it also slows aging and boosts your self-control.

It won’t surprise you to hear that meditation boosts your health. That’s an idea that’s been around for a while now. But you might not know just how good it is. In fact, scientists are only just beginning to understand the miraculous effects of meditation.

Take the latest research. Recent studies looking at meditation and mindfulness – a type of meditation that trains the mind to block out background noise and focus on one thing – have demonstrated all sorts of incredible health benefits.

People who regularly meditate, for example, show increased immune function and are much better at fighting off infections. Meditation has also been linked with an increased production of something called telomerase, an enzyme that repairs chromosomes and generally slows the aging process.

If these perks aren’t convincing enough, here are three more reasons to start meditating today: studies show that it results in improved cholesterol levels, better blood pressure and a healthier heart.

Meditation isn’t just a boon to your physical well-being, however – it’s also great for your cognitive abilities. Mastering mindfulness has been shown to help your mind self-regulate, amp up problem-solving skills and adapt to new and unfamiliar situations.

The author’s own experience shows just how effective meditative practices can be in educational settings, where attention is key to success. When he works with teachers and students, he uses a simple model to explain how meditation works. Imagine a central hub called awareness and a large circle around it filled with everything that’s going on around you. Now picture an arrow called focus pointing outward from the hub to a spot within the circle. Meditation is about controlling that arrow. You might want to point it toward something in the circle. Or you might direct it toward the hub itself, thereby raising self-awareness.

A primary school teacher who adopted the author’s model later reported how much it had helped Billy, a student who was experiencing difficulties. Billy had all but transformed after taking up meditation and told his teacher that meditating helped him control his impulses. When he wanted to lash out at his classmates, he focused on his hub and tried to come up with a better solution. Becoming more aware of his feelings and the way he reacted to external stimuli – everything in that wider circle – taught him self-control.

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