Q & A’s with Dr. David Perlmutter
Co-Author, Power Up Your Brain
What inspired you to write the book, Power Up Your Brain?
Over the past 25 years I’ve been involved in maintaining and enhancing brain health, and in developing therapeutic approaches to brain illness from a biochemical and nutritional perspective. I’ve come to understand the powerful potential of what the human brain can accomplish and how to maximize the brain’s ability to perform. It has opened up a new realm for me in my understanding of what my life’s mission really is. We all possess an incredible potential to tap into information and gain enlightenment, far more than we ever realized, and all of it depends on having a highly functional brain. With this book I’ve used my decades of research in the field to let people know how we can enhance the brain specifically in its ability to gain spiritual knowledge. This has turned out to be a far more meaningful life goal for me than any I could have imagined before.
What are some common myths about the brain that you’d like to debunk?
“We are given a fixed number of brain cells and then it’s all downhill from our teen years until we die.” We now recognize that in fact we grow new brain cells every moment of our lives (neurogenesis) and are able to renew our brain every minute of every day. It’s exciting that we now understand which genes control that process, and even more exciting is the fact that we now understand how to enhance how those genes work, therefore magnifying the process of growing new brain cells.
We can’t change the hardware of our brains.” In reality, the brain is actually very plastic and can be remolded with new connections, pathways, and new networks developing every single day. As the Dalai Lama stated, “The brain we develop reflects the life we lead.” The brain is malleable and ultimately represents the manifestation of what we choose to actually focus on and how we choose to live our lives. The more we pursue certain actions and thoughts the more the brain is changed physically and functionally to enhance those functions.
“We only use 20-30 percent of our brain.” Leading edge neuroscience indicates this is totally erroneous– we use 100 percent of our brain but we only use an infinitesimal fraction of our brain’s capacity.
What is the difference between the “old brain” and the “new brain?”
The “old brain” functions mainly to allow us to carry out the basic actions necessary to survive / sustain life. This includes actions such as feeding, fighting, fleeing, and reproducing. The “new brain” allows a much higher level of integration of thoughts and perception. The highest achievement of our new brain is an area called the prefrontal cortex and it is that gift that truly defines us as human beings. It allows us to participate in planning for the future, recognize the consequences of our actions, become empathetic towards others, understand our role in society, and perhaps most fundamentally, it allows us access to become enlightened beings.
What message would you like to get out to people with this book?
Enlightenment, allowing our choices for thoughts and actions to be influenced and inspired by divine energy, need not be considered a gift for only the few. The tools offered in Power Up Your Brain will dramatically increase your ability to enhance the function of the brain regions essential for achieving an enlightened state.
How can this book help people think, function, and live better?
Becoming enlightened is the key to physical health, mental stability, joy, happiness, and prosperity– pretty much what we all want.
Q & A’s with Dr. Alberto Villoldo
Co-Author, Power Up Your Brain
Why did you leave a more traditional medical background to a more spiritual path?
My training is as a medical anthropologist versus being a medical doctor. As a medical anthropologist, I was curious about other healing systems around the world. Modern medicine, which is wonderful for healing trauma (such as injuries from an automobile accident) is terrible for healing chronic conditions. At a laboratory at San Francisco State University that I was directing, we were studying how we create psychosomatic disease and whether we could create psychosomatic self. I realized that to find the answer I had to go study with the experts that were in true primitive societies without technology– all they had was the mind’s ability to heal the body.
Isn’t spirituality completely different from the facts of science?
Science is relatively new while spirituality is very ancient. I discovered that what the spiritual traditions did was put an archaic language to what we describe today as neuroscience. However, what they refer to as “enlightenment” is optimal brain function– the ability to create psychosomatic health. Many people however associate the term “enlightenment” with organized religion when in reality it’s available to all people of any belief.
Why was this book so important for you to write?
We have over fifty years worth of self-help books and people are still suffering. But we also now have the technology for healing the brain, for healing through trauma, and being able to experience joy and inner peace. David and I wanted to show that we all as humans can cut through the spiritual hype and narcissistic self-indulgence of our problems in order to amplify brain function and overall wellbeing.
Do you believe this book will change people’s perception on spirituality? What are some common myths about shamanism?
I know this book will change people’s lives. We are living in the era where science and spirituality have converged. Some myths about shamans include: “Shamans are ignorant or backwards.” Since shamans descend from ancient scientists that did not have writings or books, they don’t have a written tradition. However their knowledge has been passed down in everyday practice for centuries. Actually, the true proof of their superiority may be their knowledge that if did not invent writing– they could live without having attorneys! “Shamans are rattle-shakers and feather-wavers, and their beliefs are not grounded in science.” This is patently not true. Shamans in their rich history were the earliest astronomers and architects of sites like Machu Picchu.
What can people learn for themselves by reading Power Up Your Brain?
They can learn to heal from emotional trauma, activate higher order circuitry in the brain, and break free from living in scarcity and fear.