In one of the more insightful videos in an already insightful series of Google TechTalks (below), Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Co-Director of the UCLA Medical Center's Mindful Awareness Research Center and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, goes where many other mind scientists refuse to go and defines what the 'mind' is. He then takes his audience through a fascinating and informative tour of the brain, highlighting how 'mindfulness' enhances brain function and increases mental and physical health."Mindsight is the ability of the human mind to see itself. It is a powerful lens through which we can understand our inner lives with more clarity, tranform the brain, and enhance our relationships with other."
-- Dr. Dan Siegel --
|Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.|
"That process of being able to see mental activity with more clarity and then modify it with more efficacy is something you can name with the word 'mindsight,' he says, defining 'mindsight' as "the ability to actually see your mind, not just have one."
"When you look at different areas of research what you find is that when 'mindsight' is present, various ways of understanding mental health are also present. There is something about being able to see and influence your internal world that creates more health."
Dr. Siegel, a developmental psychiatrist by training, then takes his audience through the paradigm-shifting case of the family of a woman whose middle pre-frontal cortex was permanently damaged in a tragic car accident; a woman who, in essence, said that she had "lost her soul."
"A healthy mind emerges from integrated systems. Integration, (being) very clearly defined as the linkage of differentiated parts," says Siegel. "So that when you have a nervous system that is integrated you get these nine functions," both in the individual and the family, as well as in larger groups.
Thus, he concludes, practicing meditation affects both the ability to approach problem areas in life that the meditator once withdrew from, as well as improving his or her the immune system. "But," he cautions, "(t)he mind uses the brain to create itself, and if the pathways aren't there, the mind can't do it."