The brain is a social organ. “Mindsight is the core concept in “interpersonal neurobiology,” a field which Siegel has pioneered. Midnight plays in integrative role. in the triangle connecting relationships, mind and brain.”
Self Awareness, Empathy, Self Mastery and Social Skills
These are the four basic life skills that helps us all achieve our full potential to be the most authentic version of ourselves. Siegel suggests that out of these four, self-awareness lays the foundation for the rest. If we lack the capacity to monitor our emotions, for example, we will be poorly suited to manage or learn from them.
“Midnight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviour and habitual responses, and mores us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.”
Siegel proposes that we all have the capability to develop a particular kind of lens to help us understand the internal workings of our brains, and through neurobiology also have the capability to rewire our brains. However, “change never just happens. It’s something we have to work at.”
What does Midnight offer?
- Better able to balance our emotions
- Achieve internal equilibrium
- Helps the body and brain achieve homeostasis
- Improve relationships with friends, colleagues, spouses and children
- Improve the relationship with our own selves
How does it work?
- Creating well being is a learnable skill (which Dr. Siegel explores in details from basic to advance levels)
- When we develop learnable skills, we actually change the physical structure of the brain
- Well being emerges when we create connections in our lives, in other words, integration
- Integration enables us to be flexible and free
The good news that whatever our early history years, it is never too late to stimulate growth of the neural fibres that enable midnight to flourish. I know this is true as I worked with a 75 year old client who in two years was able to redefine his lifestyle patterns and achieve greater autonomy.
The book is split into two parts.
Part 1 is mostly theoretical which explores various people and situations where midnight is absent. We follow the stories of people who are able to alter how their brain functions in order to achieve the well being they deserve. We also get some information on brain science and some insight into mind and mental health. You can easily skip this part if this is not your area of interest.
Part 2 we follow the stories of how Dr. Siegel uses Mindsight to help his psychotherapy clients develop the life skills.
As a psychotherapist myself, I have picked up incredible information on how to best use such techniques and tools to help my client become the best version of themselves. In particular, I really admired how Siegel talked about helping his clients do a Body Scan in a session, bringing to the client’s awareness of what’s happening in their bodies. The other brilliant chapter I found was on Trauma and Memory.
I will admit that this book will mainly appeal to psychotherapists (my own supervisor suggested I read this and it turned out be an essential and brilliant recommendation) but for those who have a curiosity about how our brains work will find this book equally appealing and insightful.
This much I am very much sure off, we all do have the capability to rewire our brain to develop more empathy and kindness, to improve our relationships, and to become the best versions of ourselves.