Brian’s Book Bag: 10% Happier By Dan Harris & My Meditation Practice
“Your demons may have been ejected from the building, but they’re out in the parking lot, doing push-ups.” – Dan Harris, 10% Happier
Meditation for Skeptics
Would you like to be a little bit happier, a little nicer, or a little less stressed? Have you ever considered meditation, but thought that it was only a religious practice or too weird to try? Maybe you tried some traditional methods and found the sitting positions, hand positioning, chants, or mental imagery just to awkward. This is pretty common for Westerners. If you would like to get the benefits without all the awkwardness, read 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
I listened to the audio book version that Dan narrates. Through his very personal and interesting story he shows how meditation can work for skeptics, like himself. He strips away many of the spiritual or religious stereotypes of meditation. He brings a fresh, average person, perspective to the practice and benefits of mindfulness meditation.
“Happiness, it turns out, is a skill – one that you can train, just like you train your body in the gym. This is the next big public health revolution. Get on board.” – Dan Harris, 10% Happier
Dan discusses the scientific backing and mental health benefits. Ultimately, he breaks it down so that it is easy to understand and do. He removes the awkwardness of meditation.
About Dan Harris
Dan is a news correspondent for ABC. He is currently an anchor for Nightline and a co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. For a major part of his career he reported on combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. After returning to the U.S., he was dealing with severe depression. He started self medicating with recreational drugs. In 2004 he had an on-air panic attack while filling in as a news reader on Good Morning America.
His life had gotten a little out of control. In 10% Happier Dan writes, with humor, about his life and career leading up to his panic attack in front of 5 million viewers. Then he describes how that event led him on a life changing journey towards meditation.
Dan is now a huge proponent of meditation. As he writes in his book,
“Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem.… If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain.”
The Eastern teachings of meditation have made it less attractive to the general population in the West. He is committed to bringing meditation and its benefits to more people. Dan does speaking engagements and promotes meditation for the average person. He promotes meditation through an iPhone app and hosts pod casts on meditation. Check out the www.10percenthappier.com website. While Dan is an on-air personality, he comes across as a normal guy. His story is interesting and motivating.
My Meditation PracticeI first tried meditation about 10 years ago while studying Tai Chi for a short period. The instructor taught Tai Chi and the meditative components of it from a religious perspective. That was uncomfortable for me at the time. As a result, I stopped studying Tai Chi. About six months ago I tried meditating again. I used some traditional guided meditation sessions I found on-line. It only lasted for a couple of weeks. Like before, I found the chants, chakra imagery, seating positions, and hand positioning to be distracting and not very natural.
After reading 10% Happier, I started meditating again. I have been meditating between 10 to 15 minutes daily for over a month now. I’m finding it to be much easier and more natural than my previous attempts. In essence, it is a focus on my breath which quiets my mind. I’m very new to it, but I’m already seeing the benefits. The practice makes me slightly more mindful throughout my day. I still get stressed. I still get mad. My inner voice still judges. I still get distracted by the constant mental chatter about the past or the future. However, I recognize all of those symptoms a little sooner than before. Recognizing them at all is a huge accomplishment. Once I recognize them I’m able to let them be. I’m able to stop them from consuming me.
If you are looking to be a little more happy, a little less stressed, and a little nicer person, then read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. You won’t regret it.
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