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Lunch » Tags » Nonfiction » Reviews » Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach To Making the Most of Your Brain » User review

A simple guide to developing mindfulness & to unlocking the brain's potential

  • Jan 11, 2009
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Since the mid-eighties, I always seem to have this unquenchable thirst for books about optimum brain performance, especially from a holistic approach.

During those early years, my personal favourites included 'Build Your Brain Power', 'Eat Right, be Bright' followed by 'Brain Workout' & 'Smart Food' in subsequent years, all of them by a neuro-surgeon husband-&-science-writer wife team, Arthur & Ruth Winter.

Naturally, during the intervening & ensuing years, I have also devoured works from other experts, like Dharma Singh Khalsa, Lawrence Katz, Andrew Weil, just to name a few.

I have stumbled upon the work of the Korean-born Ilchi Lee on the net. He seems to be quite a colourful character, & has built quite an extensive global outfit in brain training, plus an understandable tint of controversy, judging from what I read on the net.

Among his many books, I have recently acquired & read his 'Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach to Making the Most of Your Brain'.

[I have his other newer book, 'In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging', which I review shortly in a separate post.]

Compared to the Winters, whose books have that "more physical, concrete, tangible" feel in their stuff in addition to a broader spectrum, Lee's book has that "slightly murky, touchy-feely" kind of stuff, more slanted towards the philosophical & spiritual perspective.

This is not to say that the author's stuff is less credible from the intellectual standpoint.

In fact, I am most impressed by the author's artful blending & skillful machination of all the widely recognisable ideas & concepts from both Eastern & Western disciplines about the mind, which culminates into his trademarked brand, BEST (Brain Education System Training) 5 Programs for the last quarter of a century.

In a nut shell, this book has captured the essence of the BEST 5 by laying out 26 practices or practical drills, under 5 progressive stages, for readers to follow.

The 26 practices form the book's entire collection of yoga-like exercises combined with meditation, challenging physical movements & stimulating intellectual drills under the 5 over-arching stages.

I note that the author's principal premise is generally sound & valid, because studies have shown that the brain can continue to develop & repair itself, even in old age, & that with simple daily exercises & the right kind of mental stimulation, we can learn to strengthen & maintain our brain power to near maximum capacity throughout our lifetime.

In his book, each practice is prefaced by a brief explanation.

The 26 practices are then dove-tailed to suit the 5 over-arching stages, which run from "sensitising" [developing sensory awareness/managing stress response] to "versatilising" [gaining flexibility/adaptability], "refreshing" [creating positive outlook/releasing negativity], "integrating" [maintaining physical & emotional balance] & "mastery" [building transformation].

What surprises me most is that the diet or nutrition element is missing from the BEST 5.

Frankly, I have enjoyed myself while playing or experimenting with some of the practices, which are very easy to implement & follow.

Given a choice, I would relabel the first practice in the book, which the author has labeled as 'Know Thyself', which I thought is somewhat of a misnomer, even though I would fully concur with the author that the exercise is an excellent precursor for many good things to follow.

[Interestingly, in a de-stressed mode, we not only change the pattern of activity in our nervous system, but also reduce the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. When there is less cortisol, there is more DHEA, the so-called fountain-of-youth hormone known to have anti-aging effects on our body system.]

From a tactical perspective, I would prefer the 'Freeze Frame' method in place of the author's suggested method. [Please read Doc Lew Childre's 'Freeze Frame: Fast Action Stress Relief'.]

I would even recommend the reader to get hold of a Biodot' to serve as a handy reality check.

To conclude his book, & to my pleasant delight, the author has introduced over 20 pages of appendix, plus a bibliography, to explain the philosophical & scientific foundation of his BEST 5.

His 'Unified Brain' model comprising the two dimensions, laterality & top-down or triune, is certainly interesting.

I would have thought that a third dimension, i.e. front to back, from pre-frontal cortex to the back of the head - creating an imaginary trajectory of future memories through present experiences from past history - would make it more complete as an unified brain.

Notwithstanding what I have said so far, I want to point out that this book is still worth reading, especially for those just looking for a simple guide, with no frills, to develop mindfulness & also to unlock the brain's full potential.

[More information about the author & his work as well as his global outfit can be found at the following websites:


[Reviewed by Say Keng LEE, Knowledge Adventurer & Technology Explorer]
Principles of Brain Management

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January 20, 2009
The title of your review totally caught my eye. I wonder how much of my brain I'm using. I think on average its 10% (I heard, I might even be remember incorrectly), but that's pretty crazy, I don't even know I measure up with average, which is really sad cuz that means it's in the single digits!
About the reviewer
LEE Say Keng ()
Ranked #302
A life-long Knowledge Adventurer & Technology Explorer in the field of brain-based, future-focused, change-oriented technologies: brain ergonomics; learning; thinking; creativity & innovation; … more
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Nonfiction, Nonfiction Books, Brain, Brain Fitness, Developing Mindfulness, Understanding The Brain, Qi


ISBN-10: 0979938805 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780979938801 (pbk.)
Author: Ilchi Lee
Publisher: Best Life Media
Date Published: 2007
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