Book Review—Mind, Consciousness, and Well-Being

by Daniel J. Siegel and Marion F. Solomon (Eds.)

 

Consciousness helps bring rise to equanimity and neural integration. Consciousness promotes well-being, resilience cultivation, and integrative neurological growth; raises telomerase levels for maintaining and repairing the ends of chromosomes; optimizes epigenetic regulators for decreasing inflammatory diseases; and improves physiological approaches to health care. The book Mind, Consciousness, and Well-Being (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology), edited by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Marion F. Solomon, PhD, is a symposium of the 2017 Interpersonal Neurobiology Conference presentations and embraces interdisciplinary perspectives. This in-depth scholarly, practical, and immersive collection explores the nature of the human mind, the experience of consciousness, and how our social brain influences our connections with others and with ourselves.

The book’s chapters consist of a collection of presentations offering an overview of current neuroscience research for the efficacy of mind–body integrative techniques in clinical psychotherapy. The presenters include counselors; psychiatrists; social workers; psychologists; marriage and family therapists; addiction specialists; mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practitioners; crisis intervention counselors; educational and guidance professionals; and dance, movement, and somatic therapists.

What role might consciousness play in well-being? Interconnectedness and social integration are two considerations, according to this book, which is about understanding the different levels or aspects of our one reality. Topics introduced include the top-down model and the embodied brain, that is, the embodied mechanism of energy and information flow. This leads to self-organization within a complex system. Energy and information also give rise to subjective experience, consciousness, and processing of information. The system of energy and information exists between our own body and the rest of the world. According to the conclusive work herein, boundaries between inner and inter are illusions; culture is made up of constructs and perceptions. The top-down model explains the pathology of a self that is separate from others and the planet. As such, the mind is said to be located in a collective, in relation to others.

In the book’s last chapter, Dr. Daniel Siegel assimilates the lectures from the presenters, and he suggests applications with detailed models of delivery in the clinical environment. Dr. Siegel provides an exercise for mindfulness integration for readers to connect with others and the planet. Mindfulness, kindness, and compassion lift the veil of these illusions and allow us to embrace the importance of our differentiation—social justice and our linkage, or oneness. Seeing through the veil of illusion allows you to see yourself as separate from others, and once the veil is lifted, there is a we instead of me. Integration of me and we is called MWe, a word and movement introduced by Dr. Siegel. The flow of energy transforms our well-being—health and harmony flow from the integrated relationships with others and the planet, and when we bring inner compassion to this energy, we shape our quality of information and our embedded relationship to the world.

This book is appropriate for counselors interested in current findings in the scientific fields of mindfulness and compassion-based theoretical applications, therapeutic presence, quantum physics, neurology, and interpersonal neurobiology. The chapters offer evidence-based exercises, respective to the presenter’s discipline, for strengthening our awareness of interpersonal connectivity, or MWe. All of which are presented as applicable to the clinical practice of psychotherapy, including the empathy and receptive flexibility for delivering clinical services. Implications are suggested for social injustice, depressive disorders, trauma, and Alzheimer’s disease, among several other common conditions.

 

Siegel, D. J., & Solomon, M. F. (Eds.). (2020). Mind, consciousness, and well-being. W. W. Norton.

Reviewed by: Evan Guetz, MS, LAC

The Professional Counselor

http://tpcjournal.nbcc.org