Mindsight by Daniel Siegel says talks about the usefulness of mindfulness and self-awareness.
- Mindsight increases the awareness of our self and of the mind/body/emotions connections
- With mindsight, you learn to control yourself, your emotions and your urges
- Mindsight, by better showing us our internal world, allows to connect with others
Self awareness, empathy, self mastery and social skills are the main domains for success in life. But the foundation for them all, says Daniel Siegel, is self awareness.
And mindsight is how you grow self awareness.
Mindsight is the focused attention allowing us to see the internal workings of our mind. It allows us to understand and name the emotions we are feeling without being overwhelmed by them.
- I am sad
- I feel sad
These two are completely different. The first is a self definition. The latter acknowledges the feeling without being consumed.
The brain is plastic, says Siegel, which means we can change ourselves (also read The Brain That Changes Itself and Phantoms in The Brain). Mindsight allows us to voluntarily change our brain patterns.
Mindsight allows us to bring to the conscious brain what happens on an unconscious level.
Mindsight: The Process
Sit down quietly. Let your attention go to the middle of the room, then near a wall. Notice that your attention wherever it wants. Then turn it within you.
Turn your awareness wherever you feel your breath. It can be your lungs, stomach or nostril. Keep it there. When your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing.
3 Legs of Mindsight
No matter how your mind is on the surface, there’s a place beneath that is observant, objective and open. And it’s calm and quiet.
- Observation: become aware of your awareness. Notice where your thoughts take you and when distractions arise
- Objectivity: you can train yourself to objectively follow the path of your attention
- Open: be open to whatever thoughts you experience, strong with the knowledge they’re fleeting and don’t control you
Mindsight Cures Many Diseases
Mindsight can help people overcome OCD, for example by imagining our urge as a person in our brain and negotiating with the urge. We would say for example “I know you are trying to keep me alive but this is not helping”.
Or it can help uncovering deleted memories from childhood traumas to accept them and finally move on.
Real Life Applications
Meditate to understand yourself
Meditate to understand yourself better.
Wish it was clearer
I wish it was a bit more like “do this, do that”, the result people have achieved are X, Y, Z.
I mean the author eventually says it, but it’s cushioned within stories which makes the advice hard to grasp. It doesn’t have to necessarily be an how to book, but more clarity would have helped.
What name is mindsight?
I think the author didn’t need to coin a new word, which doesn’t help with clarity either. I wish he had used mindfulness, for example.
Mindisght has lots of wisdom and following the advice can do a lot to empower us.
Mindisght is somewhat similar to When Things Fall Apart, but with more scientific rigor.
In brief, I disliked how the concepts were laid out in the books: complex, dense and disjointed.
I had to read the book twice and still I have troubles if someone where to ask me “what are the key points” and “how do you develop mindsight”.
But I loved the topic and the message.
I meditate and try to actively heed the advise, so for now I would recommend Mindsight in spite of the shortcoming.
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