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On the Bookshelf

For those who love to read about yoga, meditation and other related topics, here is my current list of reads. If you have read these recently, let me know what you think:

Because of my grassroots activity to bring mindfulness and meditation into our workplace at 3M, I am always looking for books about the science of mindfulness. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body is co-written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At one point we tried to get Dr. Davidson to speak at our workplace, but unfortunately we missed our chance as he his now too busy (and popular) to do many speaking engagements. He is doing great work in studying the validity of claims for the effects of meditation on the brain. While I believe that firsthand experience is the best proof of any practice, I do realize that some people require scientific rigor in order to boost their beliefs.

On a similar note, I can never resist stories of Near Death Experiences by scientists and people with medical backgrounds who were previously skeptics of such things. My most recent find:

Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Heart of Consciousness - Eben Alexander

During the retreat I mentioned I was interested in learning more about "memory palaces" or ways of training the mind to remember things. At the time I was reading The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly, in which she proposes that neolithic sites like Stonehenge were actually physical memory aids for pre-literate societies to recall important information. Having heard of another book about memory palaces a few years ago, I decided to finally check out Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. It's a biographical account of a guy who has an average memory to begin with, and through the use of specific techniques, ends up becoming a memory champion. This is all very interesting to me because one of the stories I have always believed about myself is that I have a terrible memory. Just like all stories, it is only partially true. Memory is just like any other skill or muscle. We need to first bring awareness to it, and then use it regularly in order for it to operate optimally. I started by creating a memory palace from my grandma's house, and placing something I wanted to commit to memory (the major arcana of the tarot deck) in different rooms of that house. Lo and behold, I had all 22 cards situated and permanently memorized within minutes! This could be life-changing for me.


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