Into the Magic Shop

A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

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Pub Date 02 Feb 2016 | Archive Date 11 May 2017


The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the extraordinary things that can happen when we harness the power of both the brain and the heart
Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke. Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart.
Doty would go on to put Ruth’s practices to work with extraordinary results—power and wealth that he could only imagine as a twelve-year-old, riding his orange Sting-Ray bike. But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.

The award-winning New York Times bestseller about the extraordinary things that can happen when we harness the power of both the brain and the heart
Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim...

Advance Praise

"Into the Magic Shop is pure magic! That a child from humble beginnings could become a professor of neurosurgery and the founder of a center that studies compassion and altruism at a major university, as well as an entrepreneur and philanthropist is extraordinary enough. But it is Doty's ability to describe his journey so lyrically, and then his willingness to share his methods that make this book a gem."
—Abraham Verghese, MD, Author of Cutting for Stone

Into the Magic Shop offers a gripping, well-told journey into the mysteries of the human mind and brain. Neurosurgeon James Doty has written a heartwarming tale of courage and compassion."
—Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of Emotional Intelligence

"Into the Magic Shop is a captivating journey of discovery. Neurosurgeon Jim Doty's well-told personal story illuminates for us all the power of insight and empathy to transform our lives and enhance our world. Read it and you too may find magic in the mystery and majesty of the mind to bring health and healing to our individual and collective lives."
Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.,Author of Mindsight

“Part memoir, part scientific exploration, Into the Magic Shop is a powerful work of emotion and discovery, showing that we all have within us our own small magic shop, a place of calm and beauty we can return to whenever we need it. As James Doty compellingly shows, we simply have to open the door, and let ourselves in.”
—Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive

“A moving memoir on the power of compassion and kindness. Neurosurgeon James Doty shares his inspiring story of growing up with seemingly insurmountable challenges, receiving a gift that changed his life, achieving remarkable success but then losing it all, and discovering that the mind is shaped as much by the heart as the brain.”
—Adam Grant, PhD, author of Give and Take

"A powerful, eloquent, deeply spiritual and exquisitely beautiful book. Real magic!"
—Dean Ornish, M.D., author of The Spectrum

“This is one of the most compelling and inspiring books I have ever read. We’re with Jim at each step, as he struggles with poverty and trauma, becomes a world-class brain surgeon, gains and loses a fortune, and learns deep lessons about the magic in each person’s heart. Gripping, profound, extraordinary.”
—Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness

"Dr. Doty’s powerful book, Into the Magic Shop, is a testament to how faith and compassion extend beyond religion, race and nationality and can help an individual overcome adversity and personal limitations. It is an inspiration."
—Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation

“Into the Magic Shop will literally rewire your brain. A candid and personal story about a life transformed by a chance encounter in a magic shop. It is a truly optimistic and inspirational testament to the power of compassion and the ability to overcome adversity and discover your true potential.”
—Glenn Beck, nationally syndicated radio host and founder of The Blaze

"Into the Magic Shop is pure magic! That a child from humble beginnings could become a professor of neurosurgery and the founder of a center that studies compassion and altruism at a major...

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Featured Reviews

By the time I'd read the first few pages of Into the Magic Shop, by James R. Doty, I was hooked. It's the story of a neurosurgeon's personal and professional life, and the first chapter left me thinking, this is the compassionate, skilled, experienced man I'd want as my doctor if I had a serious medical issue. Doty begins by telling us how he grew up: poor, with a chronically depressed mother and alcoholic father who neglected to monitor his school attendance or even basic needs like daily meals. One day, the boy wanders into a magic shop and meets the owner and his mother. The mother, Ruth, sees the child's potential and starts instructing him in meditation and other mind/body techniques. The magic Doty recounts isn't about pulling rabbits out of a hat, but using his own inner resources to navigate a challenging, often harsh world as he applies to enter medical school, complete his coursework and a residency, and so on. As Doty recalls his encounters with Ruth, the book leans toward a self-help manual, instructing the reader on how to duplicate the meditation skills and thinking patterns he learned. At times, I was surprised that such a young boy would give so much weight to these training sessions, but then again, he was clearly not getting enough attention and care at home. He really seems to have put Ruth on a pedestal for her contributions to his life, although I'm not clear on how much time they actually spent together. As Doty grows up and goes on to be a successful physician, he starts investing, eventually earning, losing, and regaining large sums of money. Incredibly, he tells us he donated $75 million dollars to a charity, only to lose everything he had shortly thereafter. Two years later, still struggling to keep his financial head above water, he learns there's a legal loophole that would allow him to get his $75 million back--but he turns it down. Remarkable--yet he says he knew he could keep practicing medicine and make more money. The book was a compelling read, and those who practice meditation and other self-help techniques will be inspired by his journey. I did feel, however, that the author is a much more complex person than this book reveals; I suspect readers are only scratching the surface of his life experiences. I wish Doty had drawn back the magician's curtain and told us more about himself, and perhaps spent less time sharing Ruth's lessons. I received an advance review copy of this book from Netgalley, but my opinions are my own.

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Very good book. It was interesting to read about this mans life and how he was able to look back and see what impacted him and how he got to where he is today. I liked how he took what he had learned as a child about the magic of positive thinking and made it real. I also learned a lot about how the brain works and how the brain is constantly changing. Every experience changes the pathways in your brain. The brain isn't a fixed thing. It is truly plastic. It can be re molded.

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When young Jim ventures into a magic shop, he has no idea that his world is about to be changed by one woman. Ruth teaches young Jim how to calm the mind and body, to picture goals and make them happen but most importantly, to open his heart up. Jim now shares the techniques and lessons learned along with anecdotal stories. This book is well-written and succinct.

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REVIEW TO APPEAR ON Into the Magic Shop A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty Born in poverty with dysfunctional and chaotic parents – his father an alcoholic and mother physically ill as well as clinically depressed – Jim Doty leads an extraordinary life. Aged 12, an angry Jim finds his way into a magic shop in search of a plastic thumb. He meets Ruth behind the counter and she teaches him the tenets of relaxation, mindfulness and visualization. Fortified by his learning, Jim gains access to medical school and becomes a neurosurgeon. But he forgot one of Ruth’s key lessons, to keep the heart open, and seeks power and wealth when these will not be of real benefit for him. Jim eventually gives away his fortune in a bizarre turn of events and today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor. A blend of science, memoir and practical guidance, Into the Magic Shop is a passionate and compelling read. I was particularly impressed by how he lovingly forgives his parents their failings, recognising that they did the best in their capacity. I would have been fascinated to learn more about how he managed this remarkable achievement as it was key to his personal growth. I would also have been interested to read about the paths of his siblings. Fashion Bookworm is grateful for an advance copy of this title via NetGalley.

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The power of positive thinking and mindfulness are nothing new, but this is the first time I have heard of a child learning such things. Jim Doty had a pretty poor childhood both financially and also in terms of nurturing. It almost seems as if HE was the adult in his family- caring and worrying about his mother, father, and brother, and then came that fateful day that he met Ruth. Ruth taught him all these magical things that helped him cope, not only with the life he'd been dealt, but also how to make the life that he wanted in the future. It's truly amazing that against all the odds, Jim became a neurosurgeon - but most of all, he became the caring and compassionate human being that he is today.

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A very extraordinary book ! This is a very remarkable and compelling story. This author will astound you in his honesty, raw courage and inner strength in this personal hearwarming journey that is both uplifting and extraordinary. . . it is a unassuming story of a boy from a less then stellar background who meets someone in a magic shop that changes the way he thinks thus transforming his life through mindfulness and compassion. . The author tells his personal story with great heart from a very private place. Its truly wonderful in life to see someone reach their full potential and he accomplished now the pinnacle of his profession. Throughout his journey he has practiced mindfulness and compassion toward others, his work and for himself. he never lost sight of his integrity. . This author has given his readers a great gift in "Into The magic Shop". You will find that yourself inspired to realize you to can have courage, change your life and overcome great obstacles to reach your own potential. This book should be read in every middle school and high school in the country. it would provide young people with a great insight to fortitude and standing on their own two feet in life. It is wonderfully awe inspiring . Thank you for the advance reading copy Penguin Group and Net Galley. I found this one of the most remarkable books I have ever read , it truly touched this reader's heart and I thank you to the author for sharing his remarkable journey through life. from the heart. I find myself struck by the journey, inspired and grateful to have been gifted this advance reading copy. Well Done! This book deserves 100 stars recommendation. Its is quite simply put, the most inspiring and life changing book you will read this year.

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As soon as I picked up this book I was hooked, the language used reaped me in. The mix of self help and biography drew me deeper into the book and my own mind. I do believe that we have a certain level of power that is based on our confidence and self belief and that is what this book is based on. The ability to medetate as directed in the writing is the key to finding ourselves. The amount of times I have told someone who keeps moaning they are unhappy - that only they themselves have the ability to change and without the effort nothing will change. I liked this book a lot and I think some of it will stick with me for a long time.

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Not knowing what to expect from this book I was so surprised to find it speaking directly to my own experiences and beliefs! I devoured this book all the while thinking "finally, someone who put this in simple understandable terms and a story!". It is hard to impart the karma of drawing energy from mental clearing and positive thinking. I especially loved the "foggy window" exercise. It made the a great visual for the mind. Even though reading his story (that of course we all have our own stories) you find yourself wondering if all those are true, Anyone who has developed by accident or practice the art of centering and focus will attest to the uncanny way that things can be made to happen. It does feel like a touch of magic. Thanks to the author for this great read that I will recommend to everyone!

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Wonderfully told story of discovering the possibilities of the human mind. As a young boy, Doty is taught meditation and visualization techniques but it isn't until later in life that he learns the importance of taking responsibility for the outcomes of the power of the mind. This book not only teaches the techniques he learned but also the importance of using them wisely. I found this to be a very enlightening read.

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This book was mind-opening in so many ways, it gave me a sense of freedom that I haven't fully experienced before. The best part in it was seeing the child overcome impulsiveness and beginning to understand how your attitude towards people can change theirs. Through his thoughts, I felt transposed into a universe of endless possibilities where what you believe in matters the most. If you believe that what you have now will forever determine what you will become in the future, the book thoroughly explains why that is not true and how you can change it. I really enjoyed the read and weeks after finishing it I am thinking about what I learned and how I can apply that today.

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This book is a page turner from the very beginning. The wonderful part of this is that this 'page turner' turns out to be a valuable self improvement book full of enlightening antidotes, and guidance to those new to meditation and tapping into their own personal strength. Into the Magic Shop is a great read from start to finish.

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Into the Magic Shop is a fantastic read. It opened my eyes to myself. Reading this book helped me discover that I can be calm and find my own happiness. The author is very talented at writing. I will definitely be looking for more books writin by Mr. Doty.

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Honestly, great book. It is well written and engages the reader. There are instances where the author explains things in some technical medical terms; but, he goes on to explain so that the layman will understand. There are parts of the book that brought me to tears. It is a memoir as well as an instructional guide on how to become a better you. I wouldn’t say, for me, that there is anything particularly profound in the book, unless you are just like the author was. For him, there was that “aha” moment in his life, and his journey, struggles, and enlightenment were profound to him. This is a very personal book, both for the author and the reader and superbly well written and edited.

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Into the Magic Shop by James Doty is a free NetGalley ebook that I began reading in early December. I've been on a medical autobiography kick lately, so I thought I'd check it out, as well as to test a theory that not all neurosurgeons are like Dr. Ben Carson. Into the Magic Shop is very much an allegory in the style of the Celestine Prophecy where a set of events symbolize a greater journey into formative thought and personal truths. Doty's storytelling style is rich, gentle, yet powerful in its symbiotic cross between childhood memory and present-day medicine.

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This book wasn't like I expected it to be. I thought it would focus on the 'Neurosurgeon' part of the title, so I expected it to be a story about how we can discover the mysteries of the brain through academic research or something like that. However, it was a spiritual story and when I discovered that, I almost stopped reading. I am so glad that I didn't, though! Although I am not big on spirituality, this story was still extremely interesting and worth the time it takes to read. It gave me lots of brain food and I can't stop thinking about it. I most certainly recommend it to everyone that loves spirituality or is open to it.

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(Note: Review is a "reviewaka.") Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart / by James R. Doty, MD / c2016 // memoir and science / energy of mind & heart / making dreams come true // bold, exceptional primer / to shape your life step-by-step // MM

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Into The Magic Shop, a "neurosurgeon's quest to discover the mysteries of the brain and the secrets of the heart" was for me an unexpected journey. Firstly I was expecting to read a book primarily about the plasticity of the brain, whilst in effect it was, but it was so much more. This book was truly a gift, part memoir, part self help book. But a self help book like no other I have read. Relaxation, more recently and popularly known as mindfullness, visualisation and openness shown in an accessible way rather than what might be for some a mysteriously long and difficult process. Doty writes in an informal manner, giving his account of his childhood, his meeting with Ruth and the way that meeting changed his life. This book should be on everyone's reading list.

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