Posted on March 21st, 2018

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Altered Traits – Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body                                                                                                                        Authored by Daniel Goleman &  Richard J. Davidson     

ISBN 978-0399184383

Grounded on the in-depth innovative research that has made them giants in their fields, and drawing on their own long personal meditative experience, Dr. Daniel Goleman and Professor Richard Davidson demonstrate in their new book Altered Traits, that  beyond the pleasant states that mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting personality traits that can result from regular meditation. They reveal the truth about what meditation can really do for us, as well as exactly how to get the most out of it. Altered Traits is one of those rare books that has the power to change us at the deepest level. It breaks new ground in illuminating the power of meditation to transform our lives. Rigorously researched and deeply illuminating, Altered Traits is a must-read for anyone interested in the hidden potential of the human mind. It reveals 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.

Daniel Goleman is one of the world’s most eminent psychological scientists and most gifted science journalists who reported on brain and behavioral research for The New York Times for many years, and has received several awards for his writing and the author of many books, including the Meditative Mind, and the ground-breaking book  Emotional Intelligence, a best seller in many countries and published worldwide in 40 languages, Goleman is a founding member of the board of the Mind and Life Institute and cofounder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, and codirector of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University.

Richard Davidson is a path-breaking neuroscientist, named by Time magazine as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people and the recipient of theDistinguished Scientific Contribution Award for lifetime achievement from the American Psychological Association, is the author of many books and is the Director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and founder and Chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds of the University of Wisconsin.

The book reveals that meditation leads to some improvements in markers of health. Many claims have been made about mindfulness and health; but sometimes these claims are hard to substantiate or may be mixed up with other effects. For example, when it comes to pain—where our psychology plays a clear role in our experience of pain—it’s now clear that meditation can lessen pain without directly addressing its physiological source. However, there is some good evidence that meditation affects physiological indices of health, too. For example, practicing meditation lessons the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors,  particularly long-term meditators. Also, meditators seem to have increased activity of telomerase—an enzyme implicated in longer cell life and, therefore, longevity.

Many people have been introduced to mindfulness meditation practices in North America, through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR has been researched extensively and tied to many positive outcomes for medical patients. But while MBSR has helped a lot of people, it’s not always clear which aspects of the training—mindful breathing versus yoga versus loving-kindness meditation—are most helpful for issues facing people. Nor is it always clear that the impacts of MBSR training extend long beyond when the training ends. That is where Altered Traits of Davidson and Goleman becomes highly significant because it unveils not just the temporary effects of mindfulness training, but how practicing various forms of meditation over time affects our general traits—more stable aspects of ourselves, and the authors make the case that simpler forms of mindfulness training may have some benefits but fall short when you are looking for lasting change. The authors 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.

The authors show that besides augmenting our capacity to focus and pay attention, regular meditation practices bring calm, clarity, and compassion for all, from beginners to experienced practitioners, and eventually, help to significantly improve our resiliency to stress and increases our compassionate concern for others.The authors demonstrate that beyond the pleasant states mental exercises can produce, the real payoffs of meditation are the lasting personality traits that can result. But short daily practices will not get us to the highest level of lasting positive change -even if we continue for years, without developing a more spacious, less attached view of self, and other specific additions such as loving kindness practices and targeted feedback from an experienced and dedicated guide/teacher.

“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.

“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.

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane


  1. Nanda Says:

    The mind takes recourse in mindfulness. Mindfulness takes recourse
    in liberation. Liberation takes recourse in Nibbana” (SN 48:42).

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