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The Science of Meditation: How to Change Your Brain, Mind and Body

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,971 ratings  ·  250 reviews

More than forty years ago, two friends and collaborators at Harvard, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson were unusual in arguing for the benefits of meditation. Now, as mindfulness and other brands of meditation become ever more popular, promising to fix everything from our weight to our relationship to our professional career, these two bestselling authors sweep away the

Kindle Edition, 309 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Penguin Life
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Amy Luckily, there's a summary at the end of every chapter. I found the narrative pretty redundant, but already knew about their credentials. I just…moreLuckily, there's a summary at the end of every chapter. I found the narrative pretty redundant, but already knew about their credentials. I just wanted the science for the most part.(less)
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Leland Beaumont
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two giants of science journalism and neuroscience research, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, collaborate to separate fact from folklore about the benefits of mediation in this important, factually intensive, and readable book. Their research has been guided by the idea that: “Some of what you know about meditation may be wrong. But what is true about meditation you may not know.”

Fair warning to hippies and new age practitioners; this is a well-researched book about science.

In 19
I have some mixed feelings about this book. I loved Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, so I thought this one would be equally good. This book about meditation is very informative. But it is not as much about meditation as about research on meditation. Let me explain.

Goleman emphasizes that although there has been a ton of research investigations into the benefits (or non-benefits) of meditation, most scientific studies are frighteningly deficient. Rese
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Even though we evolved from Homo erectus more than 1.8 million years ago, our radar system for existential threats is still overactive and keeps sounding false alarms for flight and fight - causing distress to self and others. Look at President Trump: all the power, wealth, beautiful women - but the man is always pissed off. Distresses the whole world.

And look at Dalai Lama. Who would you rather be? This book is about how meditation and compassion have made Dalai Lama's brain differe
After taking a course about meditation and science I was interested in reading about more scientific evidence on the usefulness of meditation. This book cites many studies and points out studies that were done without rigorous application of the scientific method whose results may be suspect. Balanced and well written.
This book was really timely for me, as, against my better judgment, I was getting a bit frustrated with my progress. Good to know there's hard scientific evidence that progress in meditation roughly follows a dose-response curve (i.e. the more you do it, the better you get). It was instructive to know that different types of meditation have different benefits (and effects on the brain) and reassuring to learn that altered traits take a long time to set in, but they DO set in—it just takes time. ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s some good information here, about the scientific examination of various types of meditation and the results. Some of their personal adventures doing research are entertaining, and they honestly criticize mistakes they made as young researchers. But while many important scientific principles are spelled out, the authors also continually bring up tiny un-replicated studies with a few dozen participants as if the results are meaningful. Kind of inconsistent. The whole thing was also a littl ...more
Abhiram Moturi
Jan 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
meh. The idea to study the effects of meditation is great. But there is no real takeaway from the book. Lots of meditation styles are mentioned and it is not clear what each one is. each chapter touches one aspect that meditation could affect but they mention a bunch of studies and so it loses clarity.
Kevan Dale
While exceedingly well-researched and well-written, I came away somewhat disappointed.

The topic of meditation and what it does in and to the brain is fascinating (being a long-term meditator), but I'm more interested in understanding the results of the latest research than in the processes being used by researchers to get to the results. The authors spend the bulk of the book describing the techniques and evolution of studying meditation (both in their own careers and of others in th
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meditation
Interesting subject matter but the writing is a bit bland.
M. Nasiri
Epirical look on meditation  and its effect on well being
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a neuroscientist and meditator, I had a great pleasure reading about personal and scientific journeys of Dan and Richie as well as the development of contemplative neuroscience whose pioneers they were. They present current scientific understanding and evaluate research on the topic of meditation through the rigorous scientific lense.
Very well written, with personal stories and insights, vast scientific knowledge and expertise, the book is immensely inspiring to plunge into meditation.
Vannessa Anderson
It was a challenge to stay focus because I just wanted to read about what the titled promised without all the filler.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book to read if you are wondering what the current science states on meditation and its effect on the brain. It is also the story of the research around meditation and how it has gradually become more popular among scientist. The book does however attempt to dispel false myths about the wonders of meditation.

I was amazed at how they found out about the default mode network. One would think that the brain is less active when not focusing on a task but this turns out not to be true. T
Vladimir Slaykovsky
All the findings look too good to be 100% true. I wonder if the methodology of studies mentioned in the book was correct
Robert Seitz
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book about meditation for those who want the real talk first, and the folklore, philosophy and grand tour later.

Brainwaves were discovered in the 1920s. Up until then, we have relied on descriptions of language to explain changes in state of the mind. Then a little less than a century ago, we began to see the electrical waves of the brain, and it was inevitable that the slow mapping of this miracle of nature would lead us here, to discussing neuroplasticity, or how one might be able
Good on the science, with attention to its design and reliability. Note: Science leaves open the question, what traits should you cultivate and why?
Chandana Watagodakumbura
“Altered Traits – Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body” by Daniel Goleman (Author of the Bestselling Books on Emotional Intelligence/Psychologist) & Richard Davidson (Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry/Director and Founder of Centre for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison)

“Science operates within a web of culture-bound assumptions that limit our view of what is possible, most powerfully for the behavioural sciences. Modern psychology had known that Eas/>“Science
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meditation
I give it 4 stars for describing well the authors' investigations into meditation. Also, the structure of the book is great: most chapters end with a section called "In a Nutshell" that summarizes the chapter very well. These summaries, according to the authors, were included so that the reader could skip the chapter if desired. I read some of those summaries in place of their respective chapters and found them to be clear and detailed yet concise.

Now, do NOT read this book if you're
Manik Patil
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors have presented a meta-analysis of most of the scientific research done till date on meditation and it's impact on physiology as well as psychology.

This work is an attempt to remove any discredit around meditation. The authors have proactively criticized hyperbole claims around benefits of meditation by analyzing them through a critical lens.

For a practitioner of meditation, it offers the reader a very evidence-based journey on why one should continue on the path. However, if you ar
Looking for some inspiration to start or maintain a regular meditation practice? Read this book! Now, I want to go on retreat! Maybe not for 3 years, but at least for 3 days.
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in a hurry (held by another patron) and skipped around a little. I have always been interested in books on meditation, and Richard Davidson used to be one of the people I liked on Facebook when his page didn't even have a picture of him (but the generic blue and white silhouette). The parts I read give me a slight sense of the writers attempting to reclaim their turf? My review is preliminary, however, and I would probably pick it up again in the future.
Mitesh Patel
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A definitive book based on scientific research on meditation. Of course, it is not for those wanting to learn how to meditate. Instead, it talks about what happens when one meditates; in a few days to few month and few years. Fascinating!!!
Bernie Gourley
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sold under the title listed above as well as the less prosaic title, “Altered Traits.” The switch may represent a lack of confidence that the coined term “altered traits” would catch on, and / or a desire to market the book as broadly as possible.

“Altered Traits” is a play on the more well-known term “altered states [of consciousness.]” The idea being that meditation (as well as many other activities from consuming psychoactive drugs to having a shamanistic drum rave) create
A good round-up of the current research on the effects of meditation and the neuroscience behind it. The benefits are pretty striking, from better focus, lower stress reactivity, greater cognitive control, and less anxiety and depression even in novice meditators, to borderline supernatural powers in master Tibetan monks with tens of thousands of lifetime hours of practice.

The authors are good at putting the various studies into context, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. One particul
Connie Hall
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, but very longwinded. The good news is that science finally has data showing that meditation enhances attention, memory, and if enough hours are put into practice, decreased reactivity and increased gamma (feel good brain waves). The bad news is that beginners or novice practitioners will benefit only in the attention and memory zones. Even longterm practitioners, with 2-12,000 hours of practice, don't hit the gamma heights that "Olympic" (30-60,000 or more hours) meditators hit ...more
Iffat Nawaz
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Vipassana meditator this book helped me understand the changes I have been going through in the past years. It was superb to understand the science behind the spiritual practices, as well as, the practical matters. It also gave me insight into many of the teachers' and the students' lives - the examples were great!

The amount of research presented and the array of mediation practices looked at made this book even more worthy. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in mediation a
Wendy Jackson
So much fascinating material in this book: e.g., it took ages for scientific research on meditation to happen because the academics interested in it were at Harvard, whose psychology department was still reeling from the consciousness exploration work of Timothy Leary, who had been a prof there. Clearly anyone keen to understand human consciousness was about to ingest vats of LSD and give it to their students. Through essentially a slow and steady stream of stealth manoeuvres, the authors (well, ...more
Lu Louche
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful investigation of meditation, what happens in your brain when you meditate and even more astonishingly what happens after that, when and what can turn into traits or trait like effects. I gained a lot of insights into the cognitive part of meditation and applaud the author for including a ‘in a nutshell’ summary at the end of the chapters. I also liked his unbiased way of presenting the findings. It surely is a book that argues in favour of meditation but it does so through a w ...more
Bernd Schiffer
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The brain to Sharon Salzburg's heart. A scientific view towards meditation. I especially liked the accuracy and precision and care the authors' took when describing how much progress they made to investigate meditation scientifically in the last 50 years and how much need there is for even more studies and experiments. Personally, this book motivated me to explore meditation further, to turn a temporary altered state into more of a permanently altered state.
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Author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist Daniel Goleman has transformed the way the world educates children, relates to family and friends, and conducts business. The Wall Street Journal ranked him one of the 10 most influential business thinkers.

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times best sellers list for a year-and-a-half. Named one of the 25 "Most Influential
“26. Kieran C. R. Fox, “Is Meditation Associated with Altered Brain Structure? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Morphometric Neuroimaging in Meditation Practitioners,” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 43 (2014): 48–73.” 2 likes
“It’s not the highs along the way that matter. It’s who you become.” 1 likes
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