Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
This book is not explicitly about procrastination, and it’s not structured for easy self-help. However, I found it worth reading and reviewing here because of its very hopeful message about the possibility of changing long-standing character traits.
As I understand it, the basic idea of this book is that each individual’s life experiences shape that individual’s neurological structure, sometimes in ways that leave us with gaps in our set of life-skills. Those gaps correspond to areas of the brain that don’t contain the neurological connections that would support the missing skills. Fortunately, however, the structure of out brains is continuously changing. Certain kinds of experience are helpful for creating new neurological connections and gaining new life-skills. How we direct our attention is one thing that makes an ongoing difference in the structure of our brains.
The author of this book is a psychiatrist who has been able to help people fill in their life-skills gaps by teaching them certain mind or mind-body exercises. The book describes how these exercises changed the experiences and skills of several of the author’s patients. The exercises included meditating on one’s breath or doing walking meditation, doing relaxation exercises or a mental scan to notice bodily sensations, approaching thoughts and feelings with curiosity rather than judgment, learning to sooth one’s own feelings of distress by putting one hand on one’s heart and one hand on one’s abdomen, getting regular aerobic exercise, and so on. Which exercises the author suggested depended on the kind of life-skills gaps each patient had.
I really liked this book’s mix of science and humanity, and its very hopeful perspective on personal change. I particularly like the idea that I can improve the functionality of my brain by practicing mindfulness. However, I wish the book had been more oriented toward self-help. I’d suggest checking your local library for the book, before deciding whether or not to buy a copy.
Following up on some notes that I took from the book, I googled the Mindsight Institute at http://mindsightinstitute.com and discovered that they offer online courses and lectures—courses for mental health professionals, and lectures for the general public. The lectures cost $35.00 each or $250.00 for all eight lectures that are available to the general public. I’m currently undecided about whether or not to try out the lectures. If anyone else here decides to try them, I’d definitely like to hear about your experience!