Dr Manocha’s book is the only book I have ever seen which focuses specifically on the science which runs alongside the practice of meditation. And by focus we’re talking about 15 years of solid research and numerous random controlled trials which repeatedly test many of the most dramatic claims that come from regular meditation involving ‘mental silence’. As such, it explicitly highlights the ‘new age’ gloss of most commercial forms of meditation, and delivers controversial and yet soundly argued views about the importance of stopping our thoughts, rather than merely controlling them, as with most other forms of meditation.
I’ve been meditating for over 20 years, and yet there are parts of this book which still rocked me back in my chair with surprise; for example the sections relating to neuroplasticity and the effects of mental silence on the ingrained thought patterns of the brain.
So why is this book so important?
1. It sticks to the facts. Rather than relying merely on personal anecdote from those who meditate, Dr Manocha takes great care to underpin the claims and examples with his team’s rigorous science based research results. This provides a huge level of insight into why thoughtless meditation seems to be so much more effective than placebo, or even other forms of stress relief or commercial meditation.
2. It’s well put together, logical and a surprisingly easy read. What could have ended up as a dry, difficult read is brought alive by the strength of the good doctor’s humorous and laconic Australian prose, his obvious passion for the subject and his confident management of the facts and mysteries. It’s a very clever balancing act and he pulls it off admirably.
3. As he says himself, one of the aims of the book is to act as a jumping off point, to hopefully encourage more detailed research into other areas where mental silence meditation – or Sahaja yoga as it’s called – can be used to improve the human condition. In that sense the book is not an end in itself but a beginning, which is exciting news for all dedicated students of spirituality.
Who is it for?
Really for anyone who wants to change their life for the better, whether novices or long time practitioners of yoga meditation. And of course especially those who may be tempted to start meditating, but are worried about the often insubstantial underpinnings of most commercial meditation programs. By following the clear pragmatic advice in the book anyone can start benefiting from meditation immediately, without having to rely on blind trust or pay exorbitant tuition fees.
If you run a search on Amazon for ‘meditation’, you will receive 268,000 results. Add the words ‘clinical trial’ and the number plummets to 28. So it’s clear that a book like this, which delivers substantive practical advice on meditation neatly wrapped up in a rigorous scientific framework, is long overdue. It was well worth the wait.