Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson

Small Steps, modified 6 Years ago at 9/18/17 5:57 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/18/17 5:48 PM

Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson

Posts: 246 Join Date: 2/12/14 Recent Posts
Yesterday I finished Daniel Goleman and Richie Davidson's new colloboration, Altered Traits. I found it to be informative and interesting, especially with regards to the purported findings and data generated throughout the 40-odd years the two men have been interested in, practicing and researching the effects of meditation.

To sum up, their early hypothesis was that meditation has the ability to effect permanent changes (the altered traits from the title) and they now have about four decades of experiments and data to suggest that this is so. Their findings are that meditation, even in small doses, begins to have state changes in most meditators. When moving into more serious territory, however, the state changes begin to become more trait altering and finally settle as trait changes.

In the case of long term studies, they bucket meditators loosely into a casual group (<10000, more likely <1000 hours), an expert group (around 10000+ hours of practice) and the superhuman (25 - 65K hours) (note that these are my superlatives). The results are as you might expect. State changes, but no trait changes at the casual level, and more trait changes begin to be seen with the second group. At around the superhuman level (Tibetan monastics and the like), the yogis are able to enter into meditative states (deep compassion, one pointed focus, etc) at will and have gamma wave synchrony happening in the brain, even while not "meditating" and while asleep.

The book's a bit dry, though they tried to pepper it with lots of nice personal stories and experiences. There are lots of footnotes to many studies, so I imagine an interested reader could spend a lot of time following up. There's also a fair number of hypotheses and subsequent studies which are inconclusive, and the authors take the time to point some of these out.

Overall, this is one of the less fluffy books to come out and perhaps attempts to shed a more serious light on contemplative practice and the study of it.
baba ganoush, modified 6 Years ago at 9/20/17 1:39 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/20/17 1:33 AM

RE: Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson

Posts: 36 Join Date: 6/8/16 Recent Posts
How confusing! in the UK it appears to be called 'the science of meditation'.
no local reviews on amazon but we get the ones from the USA for 'altered traits'
i checked the contents and first page via look inside and the text looks the same.

edit: oops! I'd landed on the hardcover, the paperback is called 'altered traits'
and it costs less :-)
odd that book search hit the wrong one tho'
Chris M, modified 6 Years ago at 9/21/17 6:49 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/21/17 6:49 AM

RE: Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson

Posts: 5243 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Thank you, Small Steps, for the book recommendation!