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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.
About the Author
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.
“A happy synthesis of the authors’ remarkable careers, which grew from the intuition they shared as students that there was something deep and transformative about meditation, Altered Traits tells the story of what has been discovered since and why it matters critically at this moment on the planet.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Mindfulness for Beginners
"This exquisite duet between a down-to-earth science writer and path-breaking neuroscientist is a tour-de-force, revealing how training the mind can transform the brain and our sense of self, inspiring us to create a greater sense of well-being, meaning, and connection in our world. Bravo!"
—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of the New York Times best sellers, Mindsight and Brainstorm
"This is a book that really can change your life. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson not only show the power of meditation, but also the smartest way to practice for the maximum possible benefit. Altered Traits is your roadmap to a more mindful, compassionate, fulfilling life — who doesn’t want that?"
—Arianna Huffington, author of the New York Times best seller The Sleep Revolution
"Here is a message that is both powerful and joyful. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson reveal groundbreaking science showing how mindfulness and compassion practices can help each of us individually and thus the entire planet. One of the most exciting books I have read!"
—Chade-Meng Tan, author of the New York Times best sellers, Joy on Demand and Search Inside Yourself
"In this engaging and well-researched book, Goleman and Davidson help us sort out the many claims now being made about the benefits of meditation. Drawing on their own long personal meditative experience and the ever increasing number of scientific studies, Altered Traits breaks new ground in illuminating the power of meditation to transform our lives."
—Joseph Goldstein, author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
"One of the world’s most eminent psychological scientists and most gifted science writers have written the definitive book on the science of meditation. Rigorously researched and deeply illuminating, Altered Traits is a must-read for anyone interested in the hidden potential of the human mind."
—Daniel Gilbert, PhD, author of the New York Times best seller Stumbling on Happiness
"A remarkable collaboration between two brilliant and courageous pioneers, Altered Traits shares the scientific basis and practical realities of the remarkable impact meditation has on altering the mind. As I have personally experienced, regular meditation practice brings compassion, calm, and clarity for all of us, from beginners to experienced practitioners."
—Bill George, Senior Fellow, Harvard Business School; former Chair & CEO, Medtronic; and author of Discover Your True North
“Altered Traits is an informative book that is sure to be controversial. Highly recommended.”