by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: 5th September 2017
Goleman and Davidson are friends with prodigious academic backgrounds and experiences, both passionate meditators themselves. While the subtitle is definite, not holding back in its claim, the authors are quick to point to the errors in method and results, both in their own research and those of others, aiming to draw attention to the areas that need more investigation, while telling of the extraordinary benefits that science suggests can be gained from meditation.
As they trace the history of scientific exploration of the effects of meditation, they also track their own. The methods and the technology available to the early researchers in the mid twentieth century, up until quite recently, may seem laughable. So too will be the deep mistrust that both authors experienced in the academic community when speaking of investigating meditation. As mindfulness and mental health came into vogue in the last two decades, so too did the technology become significantly more advanced, making academics more eager to examine the area, the technology giving them ability to do so.
While all findings are couched in a healthy scientific scepticism, the findings you will be introduced to are phenomenal. Such mental areas as concentration, emotional regulation and compassion, amongst others, can be enhanced. The benefits to the body include pain regulation, and dealing with conditions such as eczema and asthma, among others.
While yogis, with their thousands of hours of meditation experience, give the most dramatic ‘altered states’ and physical changes, Goleman and Davidson also examine the benefits available through shorter-term less in-depth practice, also giving space to how technology of the day, such as the smart phone, can be used to positively impact the life of the common person. While the book does point out the holes in the current academic knowledge, it will likely inspire the reader, making one question what can be achieved mentally and physically, perhaps bringing about positive life changes.