Do You Know this About Your Brain?

In his recent book , Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD and neurologist Richard Mendius, MD, talk about the growing discoveries being made at the intersection of Psychology, Neurology and Contemplative practice and how we can influence our own minds. We’ll get more into this in an upcoming interview with Rick.

Prior to that interview, I wanted to share with you some interesting facts about our brains that he shares in the book that blew my mind and I thought you’d find interesting.

  •  Your brain is 3 pounds of tofu-like tissue with 1.1 trillion cells and 100 billion neurons.
  • A typical neuron fires 5-50 times a second. As you’re reading this, literally quadrillions of signals are travelling around in your brain.
  • Although the brain is about 2% of your body weight, it uses 20-25% of the oxygen and glucose we consume. It never stops, always moving while we’re awake and asleep.
  • The combination of connections that occur with the 100 billion neurons in our heads is 1 to the millionth power or 1 followed by a million zeros (I’d write that out, but you may not make it back to the important things to do today).

Hanson mentions Psychologist Donald Hebbs research findings that “neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words, as we create certain mental states with our attention, we are influencing the growth of our brains. This is what is known as neuroplasticity. We have this capability all our lives.

There is a growing amount of studies pointing to the positive effects of mindfulness on various regions of the brain that lead us to less stress, greater resiliency and well-being. We also mention many of these studies in A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook.

The intersection between Psychology, Neurology and Contemplative practice is getting a lot of attention right now truly because people are experiencing real change in their lives and finding that they actually have more choice to become more present to life and become less reactive to the tides.

It helps that neuroscience is now involved because often times to get the motivation to practice, most of us need to see something to believe it. Science helps us do that and then we can truly realize it through our own experience.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides an opportunity for others to interact and this creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

Comments are closed.