by Niels Birbaumer and Jorg Zittlau
Reviewed by Andy
Every brain needs a break and every mind needs some down time. Unfortunately, the brain is constantly seeking the next experience, which our society overwhelms us with, and has also evolved to expect the worst. Luckily, in Empty Brain Happy Brain, neurobiologist Niels Birbaumer shows how we're able to reach a state of emptiness in which "the defense and stress systems in the brain are inhibited, a strange kind of openness occurs in the senses, thinking in words and sentences is rolled back, and any feeling of 'drive' ebbs away." Music, meditation, flotation tanks, marching in step, chanting at sporting events, arrowhead poison and other portals to emptiness are described. The Buddha, Schopenhauer, locked-in patients, psychopaths and college students grace the pages. It is a wide-ranging book connecting many disparate disciplines, most interestingly contemplative practice and neuroscience.