On Nov 25, 2 pm, we discussed Altered Traits, and States, the science of  the behavioral, psychological and neurological changes resulting from meditation-related practices. Jen Hohman led our discussion, which highlighted recent books including:

  1. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson,  Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, the science of what meditation can really do for us,

  2. Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, May 15, 2018.

The seminal 1972 book by Charles Tart, Altered States of Consciousness, includes a famous quote from William James, in his 1992 Varieties of Religious Experience.

our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite discarded. How to regard them is the question,--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness." --.

Online Resources:

  1. Dr. Daniel Goleman & Dr. Richie Davidson: "Altered Traits: Science Reveals [...]", Talks at Google, 55 minute video.

  2. Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind, 15 minute Google video plus discussion.

  3. Charles Tart 2015 - What are Altered States of Consciousness?, 12 minute video

Many other articles on these topics, and talks by these authors, are available on-line via your Google searches. Note also your altered states of consciousness in:

  • Death and Near-Death Experiences

  • Sleep states and levels of unconsciousness, extending toward coma and death

  • Meditation, including particularly Zazen, Shikantaza, and Sammadhi


As always, the Science & Buddhism discussions are quite open and informal with all invited to participate.

All are welcome. No prior experience with science, Buddhism, or meditation is necessary. Hope to see you there!

Sunday Program: We also invite you to join us that Sunday morning for our 10 am Sunday Program, Dharma Talk, and social lunch, ahead of our 2 pm Science & Buddhism session.