Michael Eisen

Mindfulness over Matter

The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?

By

Watkins Publishing 265pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

‘Mindfulness’ is due a backlash, surely. And it starts here. Sort of. The authors, both psychologists, and one an experienced meditator with a lifelong interest in spiritual matters, originally set out to write an account of the astonishing transformative power of meditation and yoga. But their research for the book complicated the story they had meant to tell: meditation turns out to be a stranger and more unreliable thing than we have been led to believe.

Mindfulness, for anyone who has escaped hearing about it, is the cultivation of in-the-moment awareness, mainly via meditation. The authors begin by critiquing the research evidence, which is helpful. We learn that the research is not especially rigorous, and in any case does not show all that it purports to. There is little evidence that eight-week mindfulness-based psychological treatments, as offered by the NHS, are as effective as more traditional forms of therapy. Claims that mindfulness meditation can slow ageing and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, meanwhile, are the result of researchers ‘sexing up’ data – a near-universal practice.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,