Cover for Altered Traits by Goleman and Davidson

I wish there were more books like this. In fact, I wish most books were like this. You can find any number of volumes about meditation, but these are mostly guides and personal stories that extoll the benefits of a certain practice. This book is different. This is a summary of meditation research written for a popular audience. It explains what exactly has been tested scientifically and what hasn’t. This is a catalog of evidence. The authors go down the list of claims made about what meditation can do and provide a simple reality check. They also provide some essential details, clarifying the differences between different types of meditation, and which types have been associated with which results; breaking up the monolith of “meditation” in the popular conversation.

They also provide a welcome guide to the world of academic research. We all need more exposure to the underwhelming truth of science. Even if you work in academia, consuming research is time-consuming, particularly if it is from outside your field. A collection like this is a valuable reference; providing a summary of research, interpreting results, and pointing out weaknesses. And it provides more convincing reasons to meditate than anecdotes and sales pitches.