Amaze Yourself: Take a Quantum Leap by Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler – book review

Amaze Yourself: Take a Quantum Leap… by Jill Ammon-Wexler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We know our brain is our body’s and mind’s control room, but how much do we know about the superlative organ and the supernatural power? So relax. Have no fear because Amaze Yourself: Take a Quantum Leap by Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler will be your Cumin Sibyl to the mysterious world of the brain where the secret of the universe is locked in and waiting for you to unlock it if you believe in it.

Dr. Jill is a doctor of psychology and a 47-year pioneer brain/mind researcher who has devoted herself to enlightening the public about the psychosomatic effects of the brain that are so wondrous and magical that they give the brain the status of a supernatural being. For example, stress isn’t just an easy, convenient excuse for our burned-out selves; it is, in effect, the evil of psychological and physiological ailments. Also, negative thoughts are not a metaphysical concept without a scientific foundation but are like a cancerous cyst that impedes the production of glucose (the brain food), which hampers a faculty of thoughts and a sense of imagination. The wonder doesn’t stop here. There is a third eye called the pineal gland in the brain that responds to altered mental states. So we all have some degree of ability to foresee the future, but that’s only if we consciously endeavor to access the subconscious mind. No wonder some of us can see and hear ghosts, and that’s true to the end of reckoning by way of a quantum leap from one sphere to another without effort.

Suppose I am being captious by playing the role of Devil’s Advocate in the review of this admirably elegant and inspirational book. In that case, it is this: like any renowned figure of academic researchers, Dr. Jill’s successful experiments on positive thoughts confine to a pool of comparatively well-off human subjects with statuses. Of course, it’s unfair to cavil at her intention to find the truth, as her contemporary peers do the same. But I hope that someone like Dr. Jill, who writes with general readers in mind with her wealth of knowledge, includes a broad spectrum of classes in her study so that none of her readers will feel left out of the selected few. Nevertheless, Dr. Jill is a pioneer in her field, translating the mystery of brain power into our everyday language to make us realize that we are indeed starstuff harvesting sunlight only if we believe in ourselves. Therefore, this book is an excellent primer for the beautiful world of neuroscience, met with the supernatural power of the brain within us.



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the ancients already knew it

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The brain is a foundation of the universe that controls our physical as well as mental being. In a similar manner of the cosmos constantly moving across the great divine space, the brain fires nerve cells called neurons and expands their territories from the physical realms of perception to the world of consciousness, which creates a model of our own reality. The brain is the leviathan enterprise that puts together the tesserae of our existence under our constant attentive care of its functional longevity by understanding its fabulous varieties that neither age cannot wither away nor custom can stale away.

Our brains keep learning and adopting throughout our lives by the two neurological processes: Neurogenesis by which the brain creates neurons and neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire the connections between the neurons. These processes continue to change and grow our brains into very old age as scientifically corroborated by the finding of these neurological processes in the brains of 70-year-olds with terminal illness. Also, Albert Einstein whose brain was dissected after his death to unravel the secret of the genius was found to have more interconnections between the neurons in his brain. This is very telling evidence because Einstein was considered “slow” during his high school years. What Einstein made genius was his use of imaginations and reasoning skills that required of him the use of the faculties of the mind to the extent possible by firing and wiring millions of neurons. To further illustrate the wonder works of neurogenesis and neurolplasticity, scientists have found it in the avian world. Unlike other birds, canaries produce new melodies every ear to attract a mate. On examining their brains, scientists discovered that canaries generate each neurons each spring.

The theory of the brain is not as complex as it seems. Simply put, thoughts are like “sparks” rising from a campfire or sunlight’s igniting fire when focused through a magnifying glass. A thought repeated with intense focus becomes concentrated mental power, which becomes a dominant, archetypal energy that authorizes our thoughts and actions. These thoughts in the form of neurons form neural networks, which are like paths through a meadow. What we should do is a change in our brain by rewiring the neural pathways that drive our thought and actions. Einstein, whether or not he knew about neurology, constantly expanded the neural networks by engaging himself in finding a Rosetta Stone for Relativity Theory and other questions of the Universe.

The workings of the brain are in conjunction  with the upkeep of physical exercise, social interactions, and new daily challenges because they are portent stimuli to ignite ongoing mental sparks in the brain. In fact, the ancient Greeks and Romans already knew about the key elements of keeping the body and mind fit with the slogan of “Mans sana in corpore sano” (Sound mind dwells in healthy body.” Father of western narrative history Herodotus noted a holistic connection between diet, drink, exercise and lifespan. Socrates pointed out that many people did not think clearly because their body wasn’t in good health. His pupil and founder of Lyceum Aristotle added that physical exercise was essential for general mental and physical capacity. Then there was famous Roman orator, writer, and statesman Cicero proclaimed that soundness of mind depended on applying one’s energies to something of interest. This relates to the empirical finding of keeping the mind fit and alert in spite of horrible existential situations as evidenced by founder of Logotheraphy Viktor E. Frankl, who endured the horrors of daily life at Auschwitz and other subsequent concentration camps by persistently forcing this thought to turn to drafting his books on the tablet of his mind to publish them after the war. It’s both a priori and a posteriori illustration of how channeling one’s interest to intellectual or creative activities keeps his mental state stable and fit in such a dreadful mire of despondency and atrociousness.

In light of the above, it is not a hyped fashionably cliched mantra that we are what we think and what we do all the time. Popularity of self-help literature bestriding the bestseller charts has the origin of truth in the workings of the brain in the form of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. For my own brain at the moment of writing this essay is firing and wiring neurons, expanding the neural pathways and the yonder territories of my consciousness. The brain is then also plastic because it is being shaped by everything we do and what we opt not to do. It’s really a self-fulfilling prophecy without recourse to deities or even demons. Consequently, the more actively we use our brain to accomplish new daily challenges by fulfilling demands placed upon our daily tasks however trifle and insignificant that may seem and learning something creative or intellectually stimulating, the healthier our bodily and mental health becomes. Which is elegantly summed up by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Still achieving, still pursuing… Learning to labor and wait.” For this reason, the brain and the mind are concomitantly intertwined to constitute our wholeness so fascinating, so awesome that even a Psalmist praised God because we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Surely, the praise is worth the singing, for our brain and its works are indeed a wonder.

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beautiful mind

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The image of Aeneas in her eyes awakes
the primal senses in the thalamus,
lights the vision in the occipital cortex,
decides that she loves what she sees
as the sensation becomes consciousness
on the high altar of the prefrontal cortex,
and then on the funeral pyre it all becomes
her dolorous memories in the hippocampus.

Author’s Note: The subject of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity is multidisciplinary, ranging from literature to history, fine arts, and sociology, because it analyzes how the mind works by conceptualizing raw senses into consciousness. That said, I wanted to incorporate the bullet theory of how the brain works in connection with the operation of cognitive faculties called “the mind’ into my favorite unrequited love story of Dido, the beautiful queen of Carthage who hopelessly felt for the wondering Trojan hero Aeneas, who left her at the behest of of Juno (Zeus in Greek mythology).