Less Dust the More Trust, The

Less Dust the More Trust, The

Participating in The Shamatha Project, meditation and science

The inside-story of a woman participating in frontline meditation research, exploring the interfaces of mind-practice, science and psychology


The Less Dust, the More Trust presents the story of the author’s participation in the Shamatha Project, addressing Buddhism, shamatha mindfulness practices (concentration-calm), and meditation-research. With diary excerpts, dream log, and audio transcripts she gives the reader a feel for her personal experiences. The current research outcomes of this unique ongoing project are reported, focusing on the effects of the various practices in attention and emotion regulation, and on health. They include groundbreaking findings of effects down to the chromosome level. The practice ‘Settling the mind in its natural state’ invites wonder: what is this natural state?
Each chapter includes a guided meditation. The book is structured in a way that it can provide the reader with various threads. It can be read as an overview of the Shamatha Project, meditation and science. Additionally, it can be read as an exploration into Buddhist studies, with a focus on psychological and scientific understanding of meditation. Most importantly: the book can support a personal journey for the reader in practicing shamatha meditations, and experiencing increasing well-being.


This is a beautifully written meditation diary and dream journal, which Adeline generously shares with us. It is also unique because it was written during her participation in the Shamatha Project, so it includes both meditation and science. This book is a great gift to us all because it takes us inside a meditator’s heart and mind. It will educate, inspire, and delight you. Highly recommended! ~ Loch Kelly, Meditation teacher, psychotherapist, author of 'Shift Into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness'

An impressive view into the vast landscape of the Shamatha Project, this book is a rich account of the practices and outcomes from this pioneering endeavor of mapping meditative experience. ~ Joan Halifax Roshi, Founding Abbot, Upaya Zen Center, author of 'Being with Dying'

What I personally find so compelling about this book is its accessibility. By the warmth and honesty of her writing, Adeline van Waning gives one the assurance of a friend who walks beside you, telling you how it was for her and her colleagues as they progressed through their "expedition," their three month Shamatha Project. She presents the practice guidance that she received in a way that it may offer a valuable path for all readers. ~ Sherry Ruth Anderson, PhD, Ridhwan teacher, co-author of 'The Feminine Face of God', author of 'Ripening Time'

In this volume Adeline van Waning admirably brings to bear her professional training and experience as a psychiatrist together with her knowledge and experience as a meditator to explain the nature and significance of these practices from both Buddhist and scientific perspectives ... With her exceptional background as a scientist and as a meditator, Dr. van Waning bridges the gap between third-person and first-person methodologies, showing how each one can complement the other. This, clearly, is the way forward if we are to seek the most complete understanding of the mind and consciousness. ~ B. Alan Wallace, PhD, Buddhist meditation teacher, scholar, Director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, author of 'The Attention Revolution,' and 'Mind in the Balance.' From: Prologue

The many examples of shamatha meditation guidance as presented in this book, including attentional practices, the Four Qualities of the Heart and Tonglen, can be very useful for students on various paths in navigating their own journey with meditation. ~ Lama Palden Drolma, Founder and Resident Teacher of Sukkhasiddhi Foundation

This is an informative and engaging work of a very high standard. It will appeal both to Western Buddhists interested in meditation and scientists interested in the measurable effects of meditation and the implications of this for understanding the brain and consciousness. This very systematic, well structured and thoughtful study is a valuable description, contextualization and analysis of a three month meditation "expedition" led by B. Alan Wallace. ~ Peter Harvey, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies, University of Sunderland, UK, Editor, 'Buddhist Studies Review'

I am both gratified and relieved that Adeline has written this ambitious book: gratified because our extraordinary opportunity and experiences in this project simply needed to be documented, and relieved because she is exactly the right person for the job. The Shamatha Project set a new standard of rigor in design and methodology for studies of meditation, and this book reflects that standard in its thoroughness and loving rendering. It provides an insider's view of the gratitude and life-changing shifts we research subjects enjoyed as we daily received impeccable, authentic teachings and then meditated for long hours in an idyllic setting high in the Rocky Mountains, all the while certain that we were simultaneously contributing to science, to Dharma, and to the cultivation of our own hearts and minds. Adeline's intelligent and thoughtful psychological and philosophical contextualization of her personal experiences makes this book appealing to those interested in meditation, Dharma, contemplative neuroscience, and the many hybrid and integrative disciplines arising from them. May this virtuous effort by my favorite "Shamatha Buddy" enrich your understanding and commitment to your own path of virtue, joy, and liberation. ~ Jim Cahill, BCB, Developer, Mindfulness-based Biofeedback Therapy, co-research subject in the Shamatha Project

A fine book, that brings together multiple disciplines and perspectives - personal and transpersonal, experiential and experimental, east and west - and more. Her combination of MD, PhD and Buddhist studies serves her and her readers well. ~ Roger Walsh, MD PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, Philosophy, and Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, author of 'The World's Great Wisdom'

The author begins as a participant-observer, as a scientist embarking on an expedition, namely what begins as a 3-month immersion into the world of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices. She remains open to the discovery of the inner world of meditation experience, especially with respect to the stages of concentration meditation (Shamatha) and the meditations on the natural state of the mind. By fully engaging in this process, and "settling the mind", she moves beyond the habitual tendencies of mind, and is transformed into a skilled meditator, who is quite capable of conveying to the Western reader a detailed and accurate description of the practices and inner landscape of meditation experiences, especially the stages of concentration and the natural state. In this way, she brings this ancient tradition alive to the Western meditation practitioner, and inspires confidence that these meditations can be understood, practiced correctly, and mastered. In her own words, she has "tasted the texts," in a way that she has distilled down the essence of these teachings for a Western audience, so as to convey the essential teachings on the real nature of the mind with considerable clarity, in a way that that is not lost is the rich descriptions of the great variety of meditation experiences. ~ Daniel P. Brown, PhD, Associate Clinical Professor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School at BIDMC, author of 'Pointing out the Great Way, the stages of meditation in the Mahamudra tradition'

With her rich background as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and her mindfulness teaching and Buddhist practice, Adeline Van Waning entered into an experimental retreat in concentration practice, led by Alan Wallace (with Wallace as the meditation teacher, and Clifford Saron as the scientific research coordinator). Coming from the Netherlands to join the retreat in Colorado, Adeline had a perfect perspective to watch her subjective and intersubjective reactions as she proceeded through a three-month retreat in which her objective brain signals and changes were being carefully monitored by electrodes. “The Less Dust, the More Trust - Participating in The Shamatha Project, Meditation and Science” takes the reader through her journey from her various points of view: her personal journal, the practical instructions given for a variety of meditation practices, her growing understanding of Dharma, and the scientific purposes of the experiment she is participating in. If you are a mindfulness practitioner, a Buddhist, a psychotherapist, or someone interested in any of these disciplines, you will be wholly enriched by following Adeline’s fertile and wise journey. She is a careful reporter, a charming companion and an accomplished teacher. I strongly recommend this book to meditators and teachers of the Dharma. ~ Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD., Author, Mindfulness Teacher and Jungian Analyst

The shamata project: a scientific study of the influence of meditative practices on participants' physical and mental wellbeing. It was scientific research, but not ‘science as usual’ for important new dimensions were added. The project included a close study of the lived experiences of the participants. Their 'subjective' first person experiences were taken into account as an important source, to be included in 'objective' scientific research. Natural science, psychology and first person direct experience in close interaction. The author of this book, Adeline van Waning - having both a scientific background and a longstanding experience in meditation - used her position as a participant for carefully documenting her experiences in the various shamatha meditations, the felt-sense of the day to day effects on her body-mind. How with the lessening of ego-concerns (the dust) her trust in ‘just being’ and surrender to the unfolding process increased. With their deep commitment to the project, their intense meditation practice, their (silent) contacts with each other, and their receptivity to the overall guidance by the co-organizer in the project, B. Alan Wallace PhD - the participants were not a group of passive research objects. Far from it, as the case of Van Waning shows, they were active co-creators of what was developing. In reading this fascinating book a new vision of science dawns on the reader: might doing science be more like co-creating new situations by subjects rather than collecting more and more facts about objects? ~ Ilse N. Bulhof PhD., Prof. dr, Philosophy

Adeline van Waning's book "The less dust, the more trust" is a unique journey into mindfulness and awareness, into consciousness and the essence of what it is to be human. She tells the story of her participation in The Shamatha Project retreat (2007), embracing three months of concentration-calm meditations and scientific research into what happens to mind, thought and emotions, in a group of persons practising Buddhist meditation for many hours a day. She addresses the current research outcomes of this unique ongoing project, and adds more recent considerations. The book is written from a contemplative and scientific point of view, and includes many personal elements about life during the Shamatha Project retreat. The author shares her reflections with many diary fragments about what she experienced, thought and felt. Every chapter offers a guided meditation in a way that the reader can `join in being on retreat,' for a direct experience into the themes the author addresses. The book makes meditation a very real and interesting activity, and shows that it - far from being an escape - provides a key to getting more familiarity with and control over one's emotions and thoughts, and to leading a more fulfilling life. The author discusses important elements of Buddhist meditation like observing one's thoughts and emotions without getting involved in them, and tells her first-hand experiences. When increasingly she could let go of habitual attachment to self, she could feel that not she did things but that things happened through her, resulting in experiences of spaciousness and openness, with feelings of subtle lightness and joy. She noticed how sometimes there was the sense of transcending her physical senses and yet experiencing everything around her more clearly. She achieved a sense of freedom, of not being bound by beliefs, convictions and expectations. Also, she describes a heightened sense of presence in the world. The author addresses a sense of `breaking the barriers of anxiety,' getting in touch with a deeper trust, beyond the `dust' of attachments and conditionings. She tells with great honesty about the obstacles she encountered during the project retreat: how the meditations sometimes led to doubts, frustrations, and how she dealt with them. Underlying the upheavals in her mind, as she notices, increasingly there was a gentle joy. As a professional psychiatrist Adeline van Waning is able to clearly outline some differences and similarities between Western psychology and Buddhist psychology. In later chapters the book presents insights and experiences from the wisest of Tibetan masters, with views that offer concrete advice for Western readers. These presentations increase the accessibility of Buddhist meditation for the Western mind. The book is a tour the force that explains many aspects of Buddhist meditation and the benefits of Shamatha for the mind, both in a theoretical and in a practical way. "The less dust, the more trust" can be helpful for anyone who practices a type of Buddhist meditation, and will appeal to the most critical and scientifically-minded readers. (5 stars of 5) By Joost Boekhoven, author, classical pianist, photographer, and filmmaker in the Netherlands, author of 'Gem's Story - A Spiritual Journey.' ~ Joost Boekhoven, Review on Amazon.com

Adeline van Waning, MD PhD
Adeline van Waning, MD PhD Adeline van Waning MD PhD, a Dutch psychiatrist-psychotherapist with an MA in Buddhist Studies, integrates her broad professional expertise ...
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