Altered Traits: Science Reveals how Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body

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Two New York Times-bestselling authors unveil new research showing what meditation can really do for the brain.

In the last twenty years, meditation and mindfulness have gone from being kind of cool to becoming an omnipresent Band-Aid for fixing everything from your weight to your relationship to your achievement level. Unveiling here the kind of cutting-edge research that has made them giants in their fields, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson show us the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it.

Sweeping away common misconceptions and neuromythology to open readers' eyes to the ways data has been distorted to sell mind-training methods, the authors demonstrate that beyond the pleasant states mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result. But short daily doses will not get us to the highest level of lasting positive change--even if we continue for years--without specific additions. More than sheer hours, we need smart practice, including crucial ingredients such as targeted feedback from a master teacher and a more spacious, less attached view of the self, all of which are missing in widespread versions of mind training. The authors also reveal the latest data from Davidson's own lab that point to a new methodology for developing a broader array of mind-training methods with larger implications for how we can derive the greatest benefits from the practice.

Exciting, compelling, and grounded in new research, this is one of those rare books that has the power to change us at the deepest level.
 

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After 20 years of extensive research using fMRIs (brain scans) Dr. Richard Davidson and Daniel Goleman have shared the amazing benefits of all different types of meditation. The book was written in a way that laypeople can digest its contents easily and, even being a slow reader like me, I got through this book in one week. There is a nice balance between scientific research and anecdotal evidence that illustrates how stress management, resilience, the boosting of happiness, and moving out of our brain's 'hard-wired' default mode can all be learned and developed as a skill with daily meditative practice.
I've been practicing meditation for 30 years (and believed in the benefits intuitively) but it wasn't until reading this book that I've gained the empirical proof that satiates the intellectual part of me - which is extremely helpful when presenting the benefits of meditation to more pragmatic individuals.
I completely enjoyed the stories of Richie and Dan's travels in India, their unique encounters with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, fMRI scans of Matthieu Ricard, and ultimately uncovering and demystifying the practice of meditation for all.
 

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I love both how informative the book is and how pleasant it is to read with anecdotes from the authors' lives. If you want a bunch of raw data like one negative reviewer you should read research papers on the effects of different types of meditation or a meta-analysis of all of them. If you want something a bit more fun this is for you!  

Contents

The Deep Path and the Wide
1
Ancient Clues
19
The After Is the Before for th e Next During
41
The Best We Had
59
Mind Body and Genome
165
Meditation as Psychotherapy
191
A Yogis Brain
209
Hidden Treasure
229
Altering Traits
249
A Healthy Mind
275
FURTHER RESOURCES
293
INDEX
323
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About the author (2017)

Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., known for his bestselling books on emotional intelligence, has a long-standing interest in meditation dating back to his two years in India as a graduate student at Harvard. A psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times, Dr. Goleman previously was a visiting faculty member at Harvard. Dr. Goleman has received many journalistic awards for his writing, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize for his articles in the Times, and a Career Achievement award for journalism from the American Psychological Association.

Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. Davidson has published more than 320 articles, as well as numerous chapters and reviews, and edited fourteen books. His research has received many awards.

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