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 (885 ratings)

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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

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What listeners say about Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body

Average Customer Ratings
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Fascinating

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

16 people found this helpful

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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.

10 people found this helpful

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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.

21 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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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

71 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Great book! Scientific support for meditation.

the book of gives an exhaustive explanation of scientific research and methods and that part may tempt you to not listen to the rest of the audiobook, but it gives important insight into how meditation has been proven to be a benefit and how it can actually change your physical and mental traits. please listen to the whole audio and stick through the "boring" details.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-20-17

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 people found this helpful

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  • Esther
  • 10-08-17

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • BigBear
  • 03-19-18

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 person found this helpful

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  • Stephen Shortall
  • 03-02-18

Indepth but not over reaching

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

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Dent
  • 04-02-20

Wonderful Science

What a wonderful book. I think we can no prove that meditation works . love it, my fight and flight response has abated since I started meditation, I thought it was mumbo jumbo, but once I started meditating I felt calmer and more caring. what a brilliant read. I am convinced this is the right path for me. I hope to aspire to reach 9000 hrs my 360hrs seems a long way off , I will reach it with peace in my heart.

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  • M. Mcdermott
  • 11-27-19

Fantastic!

Everyone should read this book.

Especially anyone interested in feeling better, and taking control of their mental well-being.

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  • Smyly C.
  • 10-20-19

Decent

Really good, nice the author read it but his voice can lose you, however I find with these kinds of books a little and often rather than all at once helps. Off setting the tone of the reader and I’m glad he read it!

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  • Kerstin Glueck
  • 10-17-19

very insightful and inspiring.

Great insight into the benefits of meditation and the science and positive change it can bring to each indevidual as well as society as a whole.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-12-19

I found this went into great depth

This was very detailed but rightly so. At times, I had to really concentrate to follow and I did a lot of rewinding.

I am a beginner to meditation, but a scientist. This is why it worked for me. I do believe that in life there are no short cuts for what is worth doing. Thus it was necessarily detailed.

Having listened to this I will continue to follow their more recent work.

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  • AGGELOS IOAKIMIDES
  • 05-04-18

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-19

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Karl Ullrich
  • 06-22-19

The map

As a noob meditation enthusiast I was overwhelmed by the volume of meditation app and course peddlers. I needed a classification guide to understand what broad types exist, what do each purport to offer, and which claims to believe and which to discard. I was referred this book by an experienced practitioner on a forum. I’m SO thrilled to have found (and devoured!) this book and now feel confident to choose my direction, look for appropriate teachers, and embark on this hopefully to be remainder of my life journey into meditation! 🤗🧘🏼‍♂️🙏 So much gratitude to the authors for all their life work that went into creating this treasured work. 🙏🙏🙏

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-21-20

Finally an actual blend of science and Meditation

So many books claim to address meditation scientifically however most of these books to me have been a massive disappointments. So often these authors use some scientific research to ground there intial take on meditation and then just go off from that point making more unproven claims then proven. This book does not do that and while this book will not actually teach you to Meditate that's not what it is for. In this book you will hear first hand from the researchers themselves about the studies they and others have worked on and where a test came back with results that did not prove there theories you will hear directly from them how and why these tests are not concrete. I've ever come across a few failed studies within this book that other 'science' based meditation books have touted as evidence for there theories, while in this book the researches themselves have explained why these studies actually don't prove anything.
To me this is the first book that actually blends the lack of who you would expect from people who both love Science and Meditation people who are brave enough to admit when there theories can and cannot be scientifically proven.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-19

Review

Very academic. Didn’t enjoy narrators voice. However I thought this was an interesting and thoughtful concept.

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  • Joel coverley
  • 08-02-19

found it very boring but informative, got tired of

found it very boring but informative, got tired of the narrators voice and struggled to keep attention

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

Exremely well informed and clearly articulated

I got great use out of listening to this book both practically and academically. It has a great way of explaining research based evidence in a user friendly manner. I loved how the author summarised the key findings at the end of the book into three different groups of meditators. I also enjoyed the fact one of the authors read the book. If you are looking for a well informed, researched based book on the facts around meditation, I highly recommend you listen to this audio book :)

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  • Cambell
  • 03-26-19

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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  • Liam K
  • 05-28-18

Great

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