Super Brain


Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi describe in Super Brain how to control your brain by learning how to the brain works and some inherent psychological fallacies.  

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Key Takeaways
  1. Your brain is creating reality every minute - make it the reality you want to live in
  2. Adaptability is key to super brain and our survival. It is what has made us the most dominant species ever.
  3. 3 major strengths - letting go, being flexible and hanging loose.
  4. 3 obstacles - habits, conditioning, stuckness
  5. How to expand consciousness - put higher premium on being awake/aware, resist conformity, value yourself, help others, expose yourself to creativity (art, poems, literature, etc), read holy texts, question own beliefs, get past your own ego, aim for highest meaning of own life, can always improve oneself.
  6. 3 strengths - evolving, expanding, being inspired.
  7. 3 obstacles - contraction, fixed boundaries, conformity.
  8. Meditation can physically alter brain and turn on good genes ad then off bad genes
  9. Super brain is detached from the thoughts or feelings the brain is having. I am feeling X, not I am X. And leads to why am I feeling X
  10. Feelings do not want to be pacified, they want to be fulfilled
  11. 4 functions and phases of the brain (must balance all 4 aspects to live a balanced and healthy life) - Instinctive, Emotional, Intelligent, Intuitive
  12. Only a handful of things brain cannot adapt to - chronic pain and anxiety
  13. Successful people almost always better at "feeling" their way through situations
  14. Purpose of universe - to foster life and create experiences for these living things
  15. Successful people internalize every success and this becomes a reinforcing behavior
  16. 7 Balances (True success comes from balancing these 7 areas) Sleep, Physical, Focus, Time in, Down time, Play, Connection time
  17. 3 things you should know for yourself - Your highest vision, Your deepest love, Your longest reach
  18. You are connected to everything in this world. All life is one. People who are animal whisperer understand this. They are empathetic and can relate to the animals' consciousness. The animal feels this and is why they are so comfortable around each other
  19. 7 degrees of enlightenment (None of these need to be forced and come at different times for different people): Inner calm, Feeling connected, Empathy deepens, Clarity dawns, Awareness becomes more acute, Truth reveals itself, Bliss grows in your life.
What I got out of it
  1. Super Brain offers some amazing insights into how to lead a more balanced and happier life. One of the only things you can truly control is your mind and your reactions. Foster the right kinds of thoughts and make sure you're creating a reality you want to live in. Balance is absolutely vital for a happy and successful life and Chopra and Tanzi show you how to get there. An excellent read.
  • Brain gives more the more you ask of it
  • Mind is the origin of consciousness
  • Only consciousness knows consciousness
  • Body is one big feedback loop - stress breeds stress and happiness breeds happiness
  • Thoughts directly affect brain - think of your brain as unlimited and see how far you can push it 
  • Brain can heal itself, rewire itself, and aging in brain is not inevitable
  • Lost brain cells can be regained, primitive reactions do not overpower higher brain
  • One cannot remember what one did not learn
  • Very little is known about memory and how it is stored and why emotional events can cause extremely detailed memories
  • Giving motion to your fear in your mind (making spiders smaller/bigger) can help restore control over fears
  • Applies to any fear because fear freezes the mind
  • Be passionate about your life an what you fill it with 
  • Try to ween yourself off using lists
  • Hyperthymesia- people who can remember absolutely everything
  • Walk away when old stressors hit, don't worry so much about being right, don't repeat actions or habits which don't work
  • All decisions made against an emotional background. Part of adaptability is recognizing this
  • Nobody has ever been able to run an experiment where a decision was made purely by rationality
  • Becoming more adaptable when - can laugh at oneself, see there is more to a problem, don't see others as antagonists, negotiating works, compromise positive, see things differently and that delights you
  • Babies are masters at integrating and SIFT - sensation, image, feel, thought and nothing exists outside of this process. Do not judge, become self sufficient, harbor no secrets, be willing to redefine yourself every day and be open to all new experiences an thoughts and you can go back to sifting like a baby.
    • 3 strengths - communicating, staying balanced and seeing the big picture.
    • 3 obstacles - isolation, conflict and repression
  • Buddha lived for the highest meaning and meaning comes from within. 
  • Expanding consciousness when can speak own truth, do not see good and evil as fixed opposites, forgive more easily because see where people are coming from, see world is as you are, you are not isolated, fear is not overpowering, no us vs them, do not fear unknown
  • Speaks about depression and how people react to it and then can get out of it. This and autism has highest genetic correlation. Avoid stresses that occur consistently, avoid unpredictable stressors, increase predictable routines
  • Break down depressed response into manageable parts
  • Don't mistake moods or thoughts for reality
  • Rules of reality - you are not your brain, you are shaping your reality every second, self awareness changes perception
  • Mind can be in 3 states - unconscious, aware and self aware
  • Be aware of your emotions and where they come from
  • Becoming detached gives thoughts and meaning to everything
  • New experiences are incredibly important as they open new neural networks and keeps brain healthy
  • Do not turn personal judgments into objective realities(spiders disgust me to spiders are disgusting). Question these responses and and why you truly feel a certain way. Are you maybe just repeating some thought or action without really knowing why
  • Do not become static. Dynamism leads to super brain and every step is one step closer to your true self
  • Decisions are conscious, habits aren't
  • Too much good evidence with positive results to ignore
  • Humans can undergo a second type of evolution - we can change the synapses of our brain by changing our habits and patterns- conscious evolution into super brain
  • Hyperlexia (reading early), hyper polyglot, hyper recognizers (never forget a face)
  • People recognize a face all at once. Not by mouth and nose, etc
  • Evolutionarily, instinct preceded emotion which is why impulses often override reason
  • Anxiety is the most convincing emotion of all but mind consciously can quell anxiety
  • Can reinterpret any raw data to your advantage- turn fear from paralyzingly to motivating
  • Possible emotions didn't truly exist before language was invented to give them a name?
  • If you indulge emotions too much, you become their prisoner but if you ignore them you lose touch with life
  • The level of the solution is never the level of the problem
  • Must hang loose in any crisis. Requires trust and experience
  • Good vs bad actions and helping others are built in responses that people are born with
  • Empathy intuitive and cause mirror neurons to fire
  • Intuition a very powerful tool and snap judgments often the most accurate
  • Experience infinitely more powerful than explanation
  • Society becoming survival of the wisest
  • Avoid conflict and make peace, value compassion, be empathetic, make a friend who is different, one act of service a day
  • Don't give away your power (please others to fit in, hold a grudge, follow the crowd)
  • Never make yourself a victim
  • Mature yourself and start with a vision of your goal (don't read into things too much, don't care too much about disapproval, respect others, like where you belong). Aim for highest goals you can imagine
  • Align self with flow of evolution for personal growth
  • Trust in a higher power. Recognize blessings and are more grateful. Can experience pure ecstasy
  • Set worthy goals which will take years to achieve. Live for present. Learn from past and forget about it
  • Never link happiness with external rewards 
  • If inner world is in conflict you feel confused
  • Aging is different for everyone, is invisible, anti aging possible once it becomes one giant and positive feedback loop
  • Every cell in the body communicates with every other cell and stress hurts but meditation and diet and exercise help
  • Success happens together and failures tend to happen alone
  • Not sure why we age but medicine is looking at it as a disease. Cells are immortal so perhaps we can be too?
  • Obesity and smoking and other negative habits spread to friends and others like a virus
  • Ability to remain resilient and forget the past and forgive others is key to anti aging
  • Moksha - enlightenment / liberation in Sanskrit
  • There are physiological changes to the brain when one reaches higher consciousness but examples are very scarce and research is nearly nonexistent
  • Yogis and sadhus have trained their mind and body through extreme meditation and have learned how to control their autonomic responses - breathing and heart rate. This allows them to perform some incredible feats
  • Important to bring self back to reality as often as possible. Be aware of your emotions, temperature, what is happening around you, etc
  • Self knowledge extremely important and should be a constant goal
  • Do not identify with any of your things
  • With increasing self awareness you will grow from "I hope," to "I believe," to "I know." Life meant to progress, knowing is a great thing
  • Question others and everything. Not cynically but in order to find for your own truth
  • Physical reality of an object depends on how you choose to look at it. Consciousness creates the brain, physical things contain no fixed attributes, sensations produced in consciousness, physical world different for all living things, should feel our way through life with awareness
  • One's Consciousness is the all powerful, invisible creator.
  • Diet, caloric restriction and building new synapses (learning, new experience) all help with growing consciousness and lowering chance of getting diseases
  • God necessary to support consciousness. Brain does not create consciousness but other way around
  • Aham brahmasmi - Sanskrit for "I am the universe"
  • Reality making is every persons task and right
  • Meditation - go within yourself and become aware of yourself and what you are feeling. Take deep breaths and notice it going in and out. If have thoughts, go back to breath. After 5 minutes bring focus to your heart. Use a mantra, take some sighs and think "om santi om"
  • "The hard problem" - explaining or understanding consciousness

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