Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story is a useful story that reveals the potential power of meditation and mindfulness.
Harris, an anchor on ABC’s Nightline, tells his story with brutal honesty. Working in a competitive environment, Harris succumbs to the voice in his head looking for career advancement at the expense of his own sanity.
An on air panic attack, induced by his work and his reliance on drugs, drove him into a journey of self-discovery that led him to the world of meditation and mindfulness.
A journey into the self
Harris discovers the usefulness of taking time to meditate. As he points out, there are numerous scientific studies that now confirm that meditation can have profound affects on the brain and overall health. By practicing mindful mediation, the practitioner can attain something many find so elusive: identifying that voice in our heads and taming it.
By voice, Harris means the constant working of the mind making judgments and ascribing qualities to everything that is happening around us. This voice becomes so automatic that many of us fail to even know that it exists. Mindfulness can help one identify this voice and begin to understand it.
Doing so can make vast improvements in one’s life.
I have used mindfulness and meditation to seize control of my mind. Our world is chaotic. Trying to understand it can be a daunting exercise. Yet, mastering our own internal world is something that we all can approach.
According to Harris, one barrier for him to discover meditation and mindfulness was the association of it with religion. Harris did not want to become a Buddhist nor explore the spiritual connections to meditation. For him, separating meditation from religion was essential in gaining access to it.
I wonder how many more people, particularly in the West, would explore the benefits of meditation if it were more accessible and not necessarily connected to organized religion or spirituality.
There are many techniques when beginning a mediation practice. Harris found that beginning with a five-minute meditation was most useful. He described a process of being in a quiet space, closing ones eyes, and focusing on the breath. As thoughts arise, and they will, the practitioner refocuses on his/her breath. This simple beginner practice and yield positive results. As the practitioner becomes more comfortable and confident, he/she can increase the duration of the meditation.
A valuable lesson and a gratifying journey
Harris’ story teaches many valuable lessons.
Through meditation, one can achieve better self-awareness and understanding. One can also develop a better and stronger coping mechanism in the face of daily challenges.
I commend Harris in allowing his story to become a wonderful example of self-understanding and personal growth. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with daily life, looking for answers, and willing to explore the world of meditation and mindfulness to find a potential solution.
10% Happier — Dan Harris