Archive for December, 2011

Building Brainpower: The Power of Mind maps

Mind mapThis is a book review of Building Brainpower: turning grey matter into gold by Dilip Mukerjea.

Mind mapping is a technique that I have been fascinated with ; I have tried my hands with some online mind mapping tools like the FreeMind and have also tried a few offline mind maps, but before reading this book was largely unaware of how to create a great and memorable mind map. My mind maps were monochromatic and mostly words.

Dilip , who has learnt Mind Mapping from none other than Tony Buzan, shows you the right way to mind map (using a central figure, use colors, use figures etc so that both sides of minds – the literal left side and the figurative right side are utilized to the hilt)  . He walks the reader through many mind mapping exercises that make you conversant with the technique.


The subject of the mind map exercises are themselves a bundle of techniques designed to help you read/ write better etc. and he provides example mind maps that delineate the techniques in an easy to remember format. He shows and not tells and leads by example.


Mind mapping is the second part of the book. the first part of the book is on overview od brain science. Here apart from repeating some obvious fluff like the fact that we use only 1% of our brain (god , when will this myth die) , he is mostly able to stick to the facts and gives an accurate assessment of how our brains function and how they have evolved. /e also deals to some length with the right brain-left brain asymmetry but does not go too much overboard; considering that one of the main advantage of mind mapping is using both the halves, we can grant him that much liberty.

The format of the book is pretty good. there is a lot of colour, a lot of figures and mind mas and a lot of white spaces where you can do mind mapping yourself.

there are two other sections in the book focusing on puzzles and brainteaser and it is healthy workout for your brain.


Overall , I have little patience with those writers or books that claim to phenomenally increase your brain power , but I am quite sympathetic to this book and recommend this to anyone who wants to learn the right way to  Mind Map.


Mind mapping is an extremely powerful technique and there is none better than dilip from which to learn it. If you’re really interested in utilising both your brains for mapping out pieces of your life or remembering difficult to master associations, then money spent on this book would be worth it.

However this book will be most useful to those who will actually  practise the exrcises and try their hands actively on mind mapping; if your interest is theoretical or you shy from exercises you will not be able to reap that much benefit from the book.

Full disclosure: I got this book for free for reviewing and am intrigued by the Mind Mapping methods.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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My new PT blog: The Fundamental Four

Psychology Today

Image by ohdearbarb via Flickr

Dear Mouse Trap readers, I have some good news to share.


I have started blogging on Psychology Today and my brand new PT blog is named The Fundamental Four .

I am quite excited to be a part of a blogging platform as esteemed as that of PT, where I will be blogging alongside Timothy D Wilson and Art Markman, to name a few,  in the cognition category.  I’m awed to be writing alongside those whose work  I admire like Robert Biswas-deiner, Sonja Luybomirsky , Chris Peterson, Chris Badcock, Scott Barry Kaufman and Michael Michalko, again, to single out a few.

I look forward to that opportunity and to have conversations with these great minds and put forth my perspective.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my focus on the ABCD model of Psychology,  the four basic evolutionary processes and the eight stage evo-devo process. These themes I will now take to The Fundamental Four, (so will request all The Mouse Trap readers to subscribe to the new blog), but the Mouse Trap will continue in its present form focusing on many other themes that are dear to my heart.

I’ll also be cross-posting some of the stuff from The Fundamental Four over here, but do not depend on that:  subscribe to The Fundamental Four too, to keep up to date with my explorations in that sphere.

With that said, I would exhort all readers to at least read my first post there and if it resonates with you, please subscribe to that blog too and carry on reading!

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The 7 Secrets of Shiva

Deutsch: Statue des Gottes Shiva in Delhi Engl...

Image via Wikipedia

In my last two posts I have briefly touched upon Indian aesthetics in the form of eight rasas/emotions. These rasas, it is said, had a mythological origin; when Baharat muni saw Shiva dancing as Nataraja, he got inspired and created the ‘Natyashastra‘ which is the root of these eight rasas as well as many other parts of Indian art. Today’s post reviews a book by Devdutt Pattanaik titled ‘7 Secretes of Shiva’ which tries to get behind the symbolism and apparent contradictions which abound the mythology surrounding Shiva in Indian religion and folklore.


Regular readers of this blog will recall that I have linked earlier to a TEDTlak by Devdutt that talked about Logos and Mythos and how that may be related to Autism and Schizophrenia spectrum. Thus I have a long standing interest in Devdutt’s modern interpretation of Myths and that is the reason I review it here- though this blog has primarily been limited to strictly psychological/ neuroscience discussions.

The form of the book is very interesting and innovative. Each left hand page consists of solely photographs of Sculptures, paintings , calender arts related to Shiva, along-with a few illustrations, while the right hand pages are an ongoing narrative interpretation of various myths and stories associated with Shiva.

Devdutt makes a case for seeing Shiva as a form of Purusha (self aware enlightened consciousness/ imagination , mainly restricted to Humans) )  , while her consort Shakti to be seen as a form of Prakriti (or Nature) .  The human head here symbolizes Purusha while the headless body symbolizes Prakriti. Brahma , or the creator of universe (Brahmand) according to Indian mythology, is conceived of as delude subjectivity that tries to see Prakriti not as is, but as it is conceived of in service of Humanity; the primary aim of Brahma or creator of subjective universe (brahmanda) is to control Nature, to see it in service of Humanity, to conceive of humans a superior to other animal species; and to create culture and cultural universes; while the Purusha is aware of his animal origins and has tamed them and hence Shiva also known as Pashu-pati (tamer of animal instincts)  as opposed to Brahma which is Praja-pati (deriving meaning from control over others) .

Much to the chagrin of many a western mythologists/ scholars/  laymen, Braham who is deemed Creator of Universe is not deemed worship worthy (there are no temples (only a single temple)  of Brahma and he is never worshiped) ; while Shiuva , who is apparently the deity of destruction , is widely worshiped by everyone. Devdutt resolves this tension , by proposing that Braham does not create Parkrati , he just misinterprets and subjectively constructs a world around him that one call as Maya. Shiva helps deconstruct (destroy)  that Maya (delusion) and come to terms / perceive the Nature as it is .

Fundamental to Shiva’s image is an image of an ascetic, a counter-culturist, a hippie – if one may call him;   that lives at the fringes of society, is neither aware of, nor bound to society/ cultures arbitrary rules and regulations, and prefers not to engage with the world.  Shakti, her consort and his children Ganesha and Kartikeya make him engage with the world and make him empathetic to those who are less aware and enlightenment and need to overcome their fears to grow further.


Devdutt touches upon 2 basic fears that haunt every living being-especially those self aware like the Humans,  – a fear of scarcity – not finding prey and a fear of death/ predation or becoming prey. He engages with the world in the form of his 2 children ecah of which solves this apparent contradiction and fear. Ganesha the pot-bellied lord , with elephants (elephants never fear scarcity or predation) head and both preadtor (sanke) and prey (rat) part of his parade, living in harmony  , always hungry for more food,  symbolizes that hunger is also subjective and hoarding is bad and we have created substitutes for food (like money) that are not really needed for satisfying basic needs.  Kartikeya or Murugun, the warrior baby lord on the other hand symbolizes the courage to face fears of death etc to outgrow them  at an early age-the six m=day baby knows no fear ( of death).


Of course being a work requiring interpretation of myths, it is bound to dissatisfy, raise heckles , of a few people; or may even affront them  but I find his interpretation overall reasonable and well grounded.  Its high time people stopped taking myths for face value , or just brush them aside as non sense, but start looking beyond the literal towards the metaphorical and the symbolic.


In as much as Devdutt may have aroused this tendency to look beyond the obvious while interpreting myths he woudl have succeeded in a  good and worthy mission, no matter whether his particular interpretations be accurate or not.

 full disclosure: I got a free review copy and am generally sympathetic to Devdutt’s interpretations.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

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