For years now, whenever a new book is released by neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, I am quick to add a copy to my TBR list. Her work has impacted me tremendously, and I have recommended her insights to many people I know. While her newest publication from Baker Books has a bit of a contentious title (it is not something I can easily give as a gift without offending the recipient!) it is powerful and potentially life-changing nonetheless. “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking” is a powerhouse of a book. Packed with up-to-date brain research from Dr. Leaf’s own clinical studies and the research of other scientists, this book combines science with practical application.
At first look, it may seem like this book is a dry, hard-to-follow narrative that is full of scientific jargon that will go in one ear and out the other… But that is not the case. Dr. Leaf combines her wisdom on the workings of the mind with real-life explanations that show us how all this science really does affect our everyday choices, health, and ultimately our entire life. After all, “We can go three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without oxygen – but we can’t even go for three seconds without thinking.” Since that is the case, shouldn’t we be taking control of the thoughts we think about, and detoxing from the unhealthy portions, just as we care for the physical body we live in?
I have just finished this book and I am so excited to begin applying the practices to my everyday routines. The last few chapters of the book were my favorites as they really brought everything together and helped me see how the 5-Step Neurocycle program can really impact my life in exponential ways. There was only thing I was disappointed about… In Dr. Leaf’s previous books, namely “Switch On Your Brain”, a lot of the information was related directly to biblical concepts and truths straight from Scripture – I loved how she tied all of the amazing workings of our mind directly to God as our Creator. In “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess”, this biblical connection is completely absent, and I can’t figure out why. Is it because Dr. Leaf wants to connect with a wider audience, and the mention of God and the Bible turn many people away? Or is it something else? I really miss this component of science being integrated with Scripture. Of course I am still totally able to apply what I learned in this book to my faith and way of life as a Christian, but I do wish Dr. Leaf would go back to correlating the amazing scientific discoveries she has made with the infallible Word of God. Instead, she leaves that part up to us.
Without question I still recommend this book (with a disclaimer about the title to my friends and family, haha!) and do not mean to take away anything by saying that it is not “Christian” enough. In fact, I am planning this afternoon to do some of the brain-building exercises that Dr. Leaf teaches by using a section of Scripture as my input resource. And that is okay too, perhaps this way of not feeding us the connections between science and the Bible challenges us to dig into researching it for ourselves. If you are looking for a well-balanced, scientific, yet practical guide to trade mental chaos and discord for peace and well-being, I highly recommend this new book from the amazing Dr. Caroline Leaf.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”