- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Watkins Publishing Limited (21 May 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1780287186
- ISBN-13: 978-1780287188
- Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? Paperback – 21 May 2015
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About the Author
Dr Miguel Farias has pioneered brain research on the pain alleviating effects of spirituality and the psychological benefits of yoga and meditation. He was educated in Macao, Lisbon and Oxford. Following his doctorate, he was a researcher at the Oxford Centre for the Science of Mind and a lecturer at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford. He currently leads the Brain, Belief and Behaviour group at the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University.
Catherine Wikholm read Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University before going on to do a Masters in Forensic Psychology. Her strong interest in personal change and prisoner rehabilitation led her to be employed by HM Prison Service, where she worked with young offenders. She has since been working in NHS mental health services and is currently completing a practitioner doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Surrey. Miguel and Catherine worked together on a ground-breaking research study investigating the psychological effects of yoga and meditation in prisoners.
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As a Buddhist I have had a kind of growing concern about the 'misuse of mindfulness' rising within western psychological circles. This book really hit the nail on the head in terms of looking into where some of the problems come up. The chapter on the history of violence within Buddhist cultures was interesting too, though possibly presented in a rather heavy-handed way for the point it's making (something like "being a Buddhist doesn't stop you from being a jackass", which is of course true enough).
Mindfulness became the latest panacea ~ the pill that would set us all right and onto the path of success and power in a competitive cut-throat world. This ancient technique, taught to monks who had eschewed the world in favour of a monastic life and the search for enlightenment, has now become a market commodity on sale everywhere. And to be honest, when I first heard of this book I thought it was another colourful attempt at snake-oil salesmanship. It isn’t.
Farias and Wikholm do just the opposite in The Buddha Pill: two serious scientists explore seriously the research on mindfulness and TM meditation and tell us in clear and easy-to-read language (science can so often obscure by the way it tells it!) what meditation can be demonstrated to do for us ~ and what it cannot do.
I meditate and I teach meditation and I am deeply grateful for this book. It helps me better understand the real science behind the hype of what I do and certainly offers clarity about the science of meditation to anyone teaching it. No matter what we feel trapped by, within the limitations imposed by the trap, we have choices and meditation and quiet can help us to better focus on what those choices are. However, the belief that we can function in isolation from the rest of the world is an untruth peddled by many a modern guru that we need to face.
I was relieved to find a book that serves as a reminder that no meditation practice extracted from the rest of the great teachings left to us by the Buddha or any other great teacher, can on its own, bring about real change. Rather, in the words of the Buddha himself, it takes a responsible look at the whole of life: “The virtues to be observed are giving, ethical living, patience, effort, mindfulness, wisdom and compassion” (from the Mahā Prajṇāpāramita Shāstra). Thus real transformation is more than about what we do on our own for twenty minutes twice a day ~ it’s about what we do in community. The Buddha Pill is a great reminder of that.
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