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

Narrated by: Daniel Goleman
Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)
Non-member price: $29.22
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Publisher's Summary

Two New York Times best-selling authors unveil new research showing what meditation can really do for the brain. In the last 20 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 J 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 listeners' 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.

©2017 Penguin Group (USA) LLC (P)2017 More Than Sound, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Informative but self-congratulatory

A great overview of studies in contemplative neuroscience and their findings. Unfortunately, the authors hail themselves as pioneers in the field, unsung heroes whose unshakeable faith in the value of their research saw them stare down naysayers along the way.

Now, they may well
be pioneers. My point is, when you’re presenting research on an interesting field, the research should be the star. While I did enjoy anecdotes of the author’s own meditation and research journeys, self-congratulation still isn’t called for, and it even undermines slightly a central claim that meditation reduces the compulsion so satisfy your ego.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent review of the science

A fair review of the science behind meditation from the people closest to the research. I enjoyed the insights given into topics that are often clouded by the media or never reach the general public. Have started a mindfulness meditation practice and am seeing where it leads me. Thanks for the great book!

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Great

Great book. Very insightful. Very worth listening to. Thank you for providing the evidence or at least some.

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  • Luanna Vieira Leite
  • 11-01-2018

Important information for meditation seekers

Good to know the proven benefits of meditation. I had a little difficulty in understanding the narrator before I started listening to the audio on a lower speed.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryce
  • 27-01-2018

Fascinating

Some of the most interesting research and anecdotes in the field of neuroscience today. Great book for the science minded meditator.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Wade
  • 01-03-2019

Easily digestible

this book does an excellent job of reviewing the research done on meditation and its effects. it also speaks to the topic of what makes valid research. and how the scientific community has gotten away from it in some respects. I will admit the author's kind of go on tangents about there meditation experiences and retreats. but they make up for it with a focused in a nutshell summary at the end of each chapter. if you want to focus on the nuts and bolts just read the summaries.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Cliente Amazon
  • 17-01-2019

Scientifically precise, but not so entertaining

The book does not present a story throughout, instead each chapter present scientific findings related to meditation and mindfullness. Although the science seems precise and convincing the presentation is dry and repetative, mentioning too many unnecessary details and I had a hard time listening to and paying attention to the content.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • E. A. Jacques
  • 14-12-2017

Couldn't Make it Past the Two Hour Mark

I have a standing rule that I will listen to any audio book I purchase until the end, no matter what. I have a few that are still queued up that I intent to finish at some point so I am true to myself. This one has been relegated to that queue. Over two hours into the book and so far, no substance what so ever. I do not see what people are getting from this book.

I practice meditation daily and am working to making living mindfully a way of life. I have purchased countless books on the subjects. Some of the top rated and some not so high up the list and every one has been far better than this book.

I had a hard time figuring out where the authors were going with this book. Just babbling about who traveled where and did what, some vague references to studies that were completed, and just plain dribble for two hours. I started skipping chapters to see if it was going to actually get-on-with-it. Nope. Same old stuff.

And to make matters worse, the narrator speaks like he is reading a kids book to a bunch of first graders. Not that it could have saved this book, but spend the money and get a professional narrator next time.

I would have given it one star in every category, but since I did not finish the book, I gave it two stars for story.

There are sooooo many better books out there on meditation and mindfulness. Do yourself a favor don't make this your first one on the topic and skip it if, like me, you have been studying for some time. Not worth the credit. I wish I could get a refund

65 of 80 people found this review helpful

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  • Tristan
  • 05-01-2019

Couldn't wade through it

It is strange that one of the authors is a journalist, because the writing does not flow. The stories feel like a distraction rather than something that pulls you in. I skipped forward a bit to try to get to the meat and then just gave up. Other reviewers are right that when the authors write about themselves in the 3rd person, it doesn't work. Instead of sounding personal and engaging, it sounds jarring. It'd be ok if it were for just a moment, but the whole book is written that way.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert Merlin
  • 22-09-2018

Good information

Kept my attention but the authors voice was hard to listen to. Normally I enjoy when the author reads their own work. But the story of meditation and the studies were so captivating that it was ok. Read this if you want to know about the science of meditation and not the fluff that we are being told is real. loved the wrap up at the end of each chapter.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean C. Cahill
  • 22-01-2018

Incredibly Grateful

These men are true pioneers of humanity, not to mention consciousness. The future will see their research as one of the foundations of a better humanity. Well read, easy to listen to and perfectly accessible to novice and master alike. Bravo.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joel C S
  • 23-02-2019

A Totally Understandable Summary of the Science

This excellent book provides a clear and comprehensive summary of what is know scientifically about the benefits of meditation and its effects on the human mind. If you are a practiced meditator; a scientifically interested person; a scientist working in the field of neurobiology and psychology looking for a summary overview of the field; or a person just interested in improving your mental health and considering meditation as an approach, this book is for you. As a working scientist and meditator myself, I loved this book and have recommended it to my nonscientific friends who have raved about it. A must read for any curious person.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • lisa
  • 14-02-2019

infomercial stroke session

Actual information if present at all is buried so deep in this disjointed infomercial you can't get to it. The repeated "we're so great and we were beyond our time" makes this book tedious and unbearable. Who published this self- serving tripe? Don't waste your time. So disappointed.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-11-2017

Not for me, unfortunately.

Having read previous books by Daniel Goleman I was excited about this one. Unfortunately I struggled to finish it as I thought he was going on and on about things and not getting anywhere. Perhaps it's one to be listened to whilst resting rather than running errands, exercising etc.
Narrator is excellent though. Sometimes it felt like he was an acquaintance just having a chat.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Esther
  • 08-10-2017

Top read if you are into meditation

Well worth the listen. Excellent book, masterfully read. The overview of the science behind meditation makes a very compelling case.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • BigBear
  • 19-03-2018

Outstanding

If you're considering taking up meditation, this book is a must read. A work of research spanning some forty years, including the most recently available data, it demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt the many - and often profound - benefits of practising meditation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen Shortall
  • 02-03-2018

Indepth but not over reaching

No crazy claims made, points out holes in research. Fascinating stories and findings. Good narrator!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andre Berry
  • 04-02-2019

Wanted to give it 5 but.....

Practising TM twice a day saved my life. Needs greater respect than you give it!

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  • George Parish
  • 12-01-2019

V interesting, but could be more concise.

Learnt a lot, but it doesn't quite meet the gold standard of accessible science research that is set by 'Why we Sleep.' Often too many sentences than are necessary and lots of filler and repetition about the history of the field, biographies of the researchers and the fallibility of psychological studies, which are all interesting in their own right and relevant to the discussion. When it finally gets to the science, it is very compelling, and I'm now watching this growing field with interest. Definitely worth a listen, it's a good audiobook to meditate with ;)

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  • AGGELOS IOAKIMIDES
  • 04-05-2018

A good mixture of science, intuition, and enquiry.

This book contains an animal into the explorations of two scientists into the world of meditation. Furthermore, it offers re-sources and concepts that can improve daily life, using the different kinds of meditation.

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  • Conquering Lion
  • 03-04-2018

Morally Bankrupt

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

By displaying a modicum of ethical consistency and integrity. The authors make a big deal of the truth and evidence (and an even bigger deal of being Harvard researchers, on and on they go about it.)
But their opening story is of a heroic general who led the slaughter of untold numbers of people in Afghanistan and Iraq following the 9/11 attacks. But the whole rationale for those invasions was a pack of lies. Yet this goes unremarked by the Harvard professors, who obviously feel that those lies and deceits are excusable, as long as you don't lie about the results from the lab. And so evil is done, and the evil doers are protected from feeling bad by the techniques developed by people at Harvard.

Has Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body put you off other books in this genre?

It has put me off any psychology popular science books with the word 'bestseller' in the advertising material.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Daniel Goleman?

George W. Bush

What character would you cut from Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body?

Its not a fiction, so your question is meaningless.

4 of 18 people found this review helpful