Altered Traits

Claudia Ginestra's picture

Authors Launch New Book on Science and Meditation

Last Wednesday, Sept. 6, was launched the book "Altered Traits: Science Reveals how Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body" written by the psychologist Daniel Goleman, known for his best-selling books on emotional intelligence and by Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at Wisconsin University.

The event was held at Harvard Square in the Brattle Theater at 6:00 pm and was full of attendees.

David and Richard told how they got interested in meditation and how was the process of research of the book.

It all started in the 70s when they both studied psychology at Harvard. Richard did a trip to India in his second year of his career. Then Daniel also went to India and met the same yogi who explained him the same thing. So, when he got back to Harvard, Richard knew that he had been in India because he was wearing some strange yoga pants with Indian patterns and that's why he approached him and finally met him.

They were both interested in meditation and started to think that maybe there were more human possibilities in the brain that we can imagine. But, all their teachers told them that if they wanted to have a good career in Science they shouldn't be investigating about meditation stuff.

Besides all the warnings they received, they still held experiments about meditation on their labs and that´s how they got the information of this new book that has been in the making for so many years.

The content of the book is divided into three categories of meditation levels of experience: Beginners, intermediate and advanced with the intention to measure changes in the brain in these three control groups and find the differences between them.

The most remarkable discovery was that the advance group had more changes in their brains and in the way they lived. It is important to mention that this group was integrated by Tibetan monks that came from differents parts of India to collaborate in their experiments. A major difference between beginners and Advance were that the first group had changed only for the short term, that's why many beginners feel relaxed and calm when they meditate, but only for a while and later they don't see the results they want or the result different kinds of meditation courses or workshops promised. Meanwhile, the advanced group had changes that had become a trait in their lives, like a new ability acquired.

The changes and benefits they registered from meditation were:

•    Focus attention and less mind wandering
•    Emotional regulation
•    Cortisol, a key hormone of stress, regulation
•    More empathy and awareness of others suffering
•    Less self-preoccupation which means more detachment to your own thoughts and self-image
•    Slower breath rate

This characteristics varies depending on the number of meditation hours that the individual had accumulated from their practices.

With this book, Daniel and Richard want to explain to the world the incredible changes that people who meditate can achieve in their brains with a scientific base and measurement to clarify the false conceptions that different kinds of meditation programs had distorted.

 At the end of the event, the attendees could get their copy of the book with a 20% discount and could also be signed by both authors.