Buddha’s Brain Book Summary - Buddha’s Brain Book explained in key points
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Buddha’s Brain summary

Rick Hanson

The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

4.4 (399 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson offers insights on how to cultivate a calm and loving mind through the practices of meditation and mindfulness. It provides practical tools for cultivating inner peace and emotional resilience.

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    Buddha’s Brain
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Our minds can change the structure of our brains and influence the way we feel.

    At any given time, what we feel is the result of the brain and mind interacting with each other.

    But what exactly distinguishes the brain from the mind?

    Our minds are our mental processes – our thoughts, wishes and feelings. In contrast, the brain is a highly complex bundle of synapses. So, while the mind is intangible, the brain is physical.

    For instance, the brain contains chemicals called neurotransmitters that cause us to feel certain emotions, such as happiness.

    However, our conscious experience is the result of a close interaction between brain and mind. In other words, they form an integrated system.

    For example, the neurotransmitter dopamine can make us feel excited and energized – sometimes uncomfortably so.

    Let's say that you get a promotion at work, and that your brain responds by releasing lots of dopamine. Whether this will cause you to feel happy or anxious depends on your mind, whose job it is to interpret this flood of dopamine.

    But the mind's power doesn't end there: it can also alter the brain's physical structure.

    Whenever you experience or feel something, this causes neurons to interact – or “fire” – with each other. Over time, these neurons physically change as enduring physical connections are created between them.

    This is known as Hebb's Rule, which is neatly expressed in the phrase: “neurons that fire together, wire together.”

    An example of this process is the simple act of laughing with friends. Doing this will establish new links in the brain between the neurons responsible for your memory of that moment and those triggering feelings of joy – proof that our mental processes can alter the structure of our brains.

    Here's another example. London cab drivers need to memorize complex street maps and routes. Because of this, they develop a larger than average hippocampus – the key area of the brain activated when memorizing and then recalling how to reach a certain location. In other words, their experiences alter their brains.

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    What is Buddha’s Brain about?

    Buddha’s Brain is a practical guide to attaining more happiness, love and wisdom in life. It aims to empower readers by providing them with practical skills and tools to help unlock their brains’ potential and achieve greater peace of mind. Specific attention is paid to the contemplative technique “mindfulness” and the latest neurological findings that support it.

    Buddha’s Brain Review

    Buddha's Brain (2009) explores the connection between neuroscience, mindfulness, and happiness, offering practical techniques to rewire our brains for greater well-being. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its groundbreaking research and accessible explanations, the book provides a deeper understanding of how our brain shapes our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
    • It offers a wide range of mindfulness exercises and meditations that can be easily incorporated into daily life, helping readers cultivate inner peace and resilience.
    • Through fascinating stories and examples, the book demystifies ancient wisdom and shows how its practical applications can lead to increased happiness, well-being, and personal growth.

    Best quote from Buddha’s Brain

    Your brain is three pounds of tofu-like tissue containing 1.1 trillion cells, including 100 billion neurons.

    —Rick Hanson
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    Who should read Buddha’s Brain?

    • Psychology students who are interested in meditation but still want information grounded in scientific fact
    • Anyone who wants to learn how to live a stress-free and happy life
    • Anyone who wants to know both the theory behind meditation and its practical application in their everyday lives.

    About the Author

    Dr. Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist, meditation teacher and a senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. Hanson’s previous book, Hardwiring Happiness, is a best seller, and has been translated into 14 languages.

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    Buddha’s Brain FAQs 

    What is the main message of Buddha’s Brain?

    The main message of Buddha’s Brain is that we can change our brains and our lives through mindfulness and meditation.

    How long does it take to read Buddha’s Brain?

    The reading time for Buddha’s Brain varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Buddha’s Brain a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Buddha’s Brain is worth reading because it provides practical insights into cultivating happiness and resilience through neuroscience and mindfulness.

    Who is the author of Buddha’s Brain?

    The author of Buddha’s Brain is Rick Hanson.

    What to read after Buddha’s Brain?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Buddha’s Brain, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
    • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
    • The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Happiness by Matthieu Ricard
    • Neurodharma by Rick Hanson
    • Living Untethered by Michael A. Singer
    • The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer
    • No Self, No Problem by Chris Niebauer
    • The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot
    • Be Here Now by Ram Dass