Summary - 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works - Dan Harris
The epigraph quotes Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher, saying we are in the midst of an essential transformation in human consciousness. It also mentions an alternative rock band called Meat Puppets, saying, "Open up your mind, in pours the trash."
In the author's note, the author says he tried to be factual in recounting events and conversations, though he admits cleaning up some dialogue to make it more readable.
The preface explains how the author struggled with the "voice in his head," referring to his internal self-talk and judgments. He says this voice can often be harmful and controlling. The author explains how he came to meditation to deal with this voice in his head, though he initially dismissed meditation as something only for certain spiritual people. His experiences, described in the book, led him to see meditation as a practical way to gain control over his thoughts and become 10% happier."
The first chapter, "Air Hunger," describes the author's panic attack on live television while working as a news anchor. It was a humiliating experience that led him to question how he had reached that point.
Dan Harris got his first job in TV news at age 22, working for a small NBC station in Bangor, Maine. Although the job was low-paying and not glamorous, he loved the work and was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask influential people questions.
Harris moved to larger TV markets over the years, eventually ending up at a 24-hour cable news channel in Boston. In 2000, at age 28, he was hired by ABC News to co-anchor their overnight newscast. However, before starting that job, he was allowed to file stories for ABC's flagship evening newscast, World News Tonight, which Peter Jennings anchored.
Harris idolized Jennings and modeled his on-air style after him. His first story aired when Jennings was on vacation, but a few weeks later, Jennings personally assigned Harris to cover Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. Even though Jennings was a notoriously tricky boss, Harris was thrilled to get the opportunity.
For the next five years, Jennings was Harris's mentor but frequently yelled at and embarrassed him. Nevertheless, Harris felt extremely fortunate to have landed a network correspondent job at a young age, even if his older colleagues initially ostracized him. The job allowed him to travel the world, covering major news stories, and interview influential people, making the torment by Jennings worth it.
The correspondent had a problematic relationship with Peter, the demanding and mercurial anchor and the show's editor. Peter was an exacting boss who frequently made last-minute script changes, often reorganizing stories or taking the best lines for himself. Working for Peter was challenging but also an educational experience.
Given the competitive environment, the correspondent pitched numerous stories and worked hard to prove himself. For his first year, he focused on lighter" "back of the book "stories that aired after the first commercial break.
After about a year, Peter assigned the correspondent to cover religion, a beat the anchor cared about deeply. The correspondent was an atheist but took the assignment.
On September 11, 2001, the correspondent was on a flight that got grounded. He was reassigned to cover the crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He spent hours driving there, upset at missing the opportunity to report on the significant news events unfolding that day in New York.
The correspondent reported from the crash site that night and then drove to New York, where he stayed at a hotel near Ground Zero to cover the aftermath of 9/11. He produced stories on the crowds visiting the site and attacks on Muslims.
A few weeks after 9/11, the correspondent got a call telling him to go to Pakistan. He was excited to get such a significant assignment.
The summary covers the critical details of the correspondent's experience, from his challenging relationship with Peter to his coverage of major news events like 9/11 and his first big foreign assignment to Pakistan.
The author began a multiyear adventure as a reporter by going to Pakistan shortly after 9/11. It was his first time in the developing world and a jarring experience.
He got an invitation to embed with the Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Despite worries from family and colleagues, he went. He described the surreal experience, which included seeing bombed-out buildings and spending time with young Taliban fighters. His reports earned him praise, though he was also criticized in the New York Times.
He was then sent to Tora Bora to cover the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He redeemed himself, capturing footage of himself diving to the ground during the gunfire. Though embarrassing in hindsight, it showed his courage under fire.
Over the next three years, he covered major events in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Iraq. He witnessed horrible things like corpses, bombings, and mass graves. Though disturbed at times, he was often surprised by his lack of reaction to the horrors. His experiences led to psychological consequences he didn't foresee when he first went to Pakistan.
The passage describes the author's formative years as a reporter, during which he became addicted to the thrill of being at the center of dangerous, history-making events. But that thrill came with the cost of repeated exposure to trauma and human suffering.
The author was a war correspondent who covered events like 9/11 and the Iraq war. While disturbing, he was able to maintain a psychological distance from the trauma he witnessed. He enjoyed the thrill and a sense of purpose from his job.
However, after returning from a long stint in Iraq, the author fell into a depression. He experienced flu-like symptoms for months, but medical tests found nothing wrong. He finally saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depression, possibly from witnessing trauma overseas or missing the adrenaline of war zones.
The author had never used hard drugs before but started using cocaine to self-medicate his depression. After months of feeling unwell, the cocaine made him feel rejuvenated and restored to normal. He immensely enjoyed the initial effects of the drug.
The passage depicts the author's paradoxical relationship with his high-stress job. While it gave him a sense of purpose, it also likely contributed to his depression. His cocaine use was a misguided attempt to recapture the thrill and energy he had felt as a war correspondent.
The author began experimenting with cocaine and ecstasy, producing intense highs, severe crashes, and hangovers. Despite the risks, he continued using and hid his drug use from his employers.
He had a panic attack on live TV while anchoring Good Morning America. He lied about the cause out of shame and fear of losing his job. His mother knew the truth and helped him see a psychiatrist, who prescribed an antianxiety medication.
The medication helped for a while, but about a year later, he had another panic attack on the air. He was determined to get through his segment and struggled through four news stories before breaking down while reading the final lighthearted tale.
His drug use and erratic behavior ultimately led to the end of his time at GMA. He realized he needed to get sober and deal with his underlying issues.
The summary highlights how the author's secret drug habit and unwillingness to address the root causes of his anxiety and depression contributed to his public struggles with panic attacks. Coming clean and seeking real help was necessary for him to recover personally and professionally.
The author was at an evangelical megachurch in Florida to report on the growing influence of the religious right. While there, a woman beside him started loudly speaking in tongues, making strange sounds and gestures. This surprised and scared the author, who was not religious and unfamiliar with such practices.
The author's lack of religious belief stemmed from his upbringing. He grew up in a very secular, liberal family in Massachusetts. His parents were doctors and raised him with hippie values but no faith. His mother even told him directly that there was no God. Though he had a Bar Mitzvah to fit in, he did not believe in or practice Judaism.
The author's view of religion was largely disdainful. He thought organized religion was false and that devout believers must be cognitively impaired somehow. However, after the 2004 election, he recognized evangelicals' growing power, influence, and religious right. So, despite his personal views, he decided to pursue the religion beat Peter Jennings had assigned him years before.
The author met Pastor Ted, a charismatic preacher at the Florida megachurch. Though the author made quick judgments about Pastor Ted, his life and ministry would later descend into a scandal. For now, though, the author was focused on understanding this man and his devout followers, who were so unlike anyone in the author's usual circles.
Overall, the author was a fish out of water exploring a world entirely unfamiliar and foreign to his secular upbringing and beliefs. But he recognized this religious movement was shaping society and politics, so he dove in to report on and try to understand it, cognitive dissonance notwithstanding.
The author was initially reluctant to cover the evangelical beat for NBC News. However, it provided many opportunities to air and report on the frequent controversies and cultural clashes. She said many quirky aspects of evangelical subculture in a mocking tone.
Her producer, Wonbo Woo, grew frustrated with her focus on conflict and caricature. He wanted her to more substantively explore how people's faith affected their daily lives. However, she was pursuing another story about evangelicals speaking in tongues when she visited Ted Haggard's New Life Church.
Pastor Ted Haggard led a 14,000-member megachurch in Colorado Springs. Although opposed to abortion and homosexuality, he focused more on self-help and appealed to the younger generation. In an off-the-record conversation, he criticized leaders like James Dobson for thriving on controversy to raise money, unlike pastors like himself, who dealt with their congregants' everyday struggles.
The author realized she had been unfairly judgmental towards evangelicals, buying into stereotypes of them as "poor, uneducated, and easy to command." Spending time with the likable, intelligent Pastor Ted made her recognize her mistaken assumptions. The beat could provide opportunities to gain insight into people of faith rather than just seeking airtime and controversy.
In summary, the author's initial cynical and superficial approach to covering evangelicals gave way to a more open-minded perspective after getting to know Pastor Ted Haggard. She saw more depth and complexity in the movement than she had first realized.
After receiving feedback, the author decided to start covering faith and religion with more nuance. He saw it as an opportunity to gain understanding and shed light on important issues.
Shortly before going on a reporting trip to the Middle East, the author had his last meeting with Peter Jennings, the legendary ABC news anchor. Although Jennings initially insulted him, as was characteristic, he also gave him advice and assignments for the trip.
On the trip, the author learned that Jennings had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Jennings died a few months later. Although Jennings was brutal on the author, he was also generous and helped build him into a better journalist by sending him on many assignments worldwide.
After Jennings' death, there were many reassignments at ABC News. The author was promoted to anchor the Sunday edition of World News. However, the increased responsibility and competition also intensified his anxieties and worries about his career and status. He constantly checked story assignments and worried that others were getting opportunities over him.
The author's therapist thought he was overreacting and inflating drama to replace the thrill he used to get from drugs. However, the author felt a certain amount of worry was inevitable in his high-pressure job.
Although the author found covering religion interesting journalistically, it served a different purpose for him than for the believers he interviewed. He did not look to faith to answer his most profound questions. However, he continued broadenings ABC's religious coverage to include many religions and perspectives.
The author developed a relationship with a prominent evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who became a source of background and comments. Haggard was willing to go on the record criticizing other evangelicals like Pat Robertson when they made extreme statements.
The author had developed a friendly relationship with Ted Haggard, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, over several years.
Ted Haggard liked the author but saw the value in courting the media and raising his profile.
In November 2006, Haggard was accused of paying a male escort for sex and crystal meth. The author was shocked by the revelation.
Haggard initially denied the claims but soon admitted to "a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life." He resigned from his leadership positions.
The scandal was a massive news story and confirmed some people's worst views of evangelicals. But Haggard had been less stridently anti-gay than many evangelicals.
The author tried to contact Haggard during the scandal but never heard back.
Not long after, the author was set up on a blind date by Bob Woodruff, an ABC news anchor. Woodruff assured the author that the woman, Bianca, was "hot."
The author and Bianca met and hit it off. She was a doctor, intelligent, passionate, funny, and beautiful.
The writer describes meeting and starting a relationship with Bianca, a doctor. They adopted two cats together, and she helped bring out his fun, carefree side. However, his work as a journalist often made him anxious and irritable, which was hard for Bianca. He constantly checked his BlackBerry for work emails, even at night in bed.
For years, the writer had been trying to get an interview with Ted Haggard, an evangelical pastor caught in a sex scandal. Haggard finally agreed to an interview where he apologized for his past hypocrisy and controversies. However, he continued to insist he was not gay despite evidence to the contrary. The interview was emotional and difficult, especially when the writer showed Haggard a video of a former parishioner accusing him of sexual harassment.
What struck the writer most was that his faith remained intact despite Haggard's failures and deceptions. Haggard said he never stopped believing in God, even in his darkest moments. The writer envied Haggard's ability to find comfort in his faith during a crisis. The writer had gone through his situation that, while less public, was still difficult, and he wished he had Haggard's sense of a higher purpose or meaning to make suffering more bearable.
The key ideas are:
The writer found love and happiness with Bianca, though his work often caused strain.
Ted Haggard gave an interview apologizing for his past but continued to deny being gay.
What most impressed the writer was Haggard's unshakable faith despite everything.
The writer envied Haggard's ability to rely on his faith during suffering, having gone through his own harrowing experience.
Here is a summary of the passage:
The author is on a flight home from Brazil, where he had a fantastic experience living with and reporting on an isolated Amazon tribe. However, instead of relishing the incident, he worries about going bald and its impact on his career.
The author discusses his anxiety and insecurity with his therapist, who reassures him he is not going bald. The author acknowledges things are otherwise going well in his life - he is engaged, enjoys his job, and has moved past his panic attacks and addiction. However, he increasingly worries about the unpredictability and impermanence of his career. He sees many established journalists lose their jobs or fade away. He worries about what other skills he has if he loses his job.
The author's colleague, David Muir, seems more relaxed about the impermanence of their field. The author envies Muir's attitude and full head of hair.
A month later, the author is in New Jersey to report on Sarah Palin's Pentecostal faith. While his crew sets up the interviews, the author reflects again on the uncertainty and unpredictability of his profession.
The passage conveys the author's anxieties about aging, change, and job security - even as other parts of his life are pretty good. His self-absorption and "incuriosity" in that moment contrast with his profound experiences covering spiritual stories.
The author was told about Eckhart Tolle and his books by a colleague named Felicia. Initially skeptical, the author read Tolle's book A New Earth and found some of his ideas interesting, especially his concept of the "ego" as the negative, repetitive voice in our heads that causes much of our unhappiness and dysfunction.
Tolle argues that identifying too closely with this egoic mind and not living in the present moment leads to suffering. The author sees how this applies to much of his life and behavior. He finds Tolle's insights into the ego and the importance of the present moment compelling.
However, the author needs help with some of Tolle's pseudoscientific and implausible claims. He also finds Tolle's style and appearance quite strange and off-putting. The author needs help reconciling Tolle's moments of wisdom with some of his questionable ideas and odd manner.
Tolle had a pivotal experience as a young man in which he felt intense despair and heard a voice telling him to "resist nothing." He then experienced an "awakening" that relieved his depression and led him to spend two years living blissfully on park benches. This transformative experience shapes his spiritual teachings and conception of enlightenment.
In summary, the author finds Tolle's teachings on the ego and living in the present moment illuminating but struggles to determine whether Tolle is ultimately a sage or a "lunatic," given some of his dubious claims and unusual persona. The author cannot come down firmly on one side or the other.
The author was initially skeptical of Eckhart Tolle and his teachings but eventually came around after reading Tolle's books and finding them helpful during a stressful experience with skin cancer surgery.
However, the author still has many questions and doubts about Tolle's teachings, including a lack of practical advice, the feasibility of always living in the present moment, whether some anxious thoughts should be addressed, and if ego is responsible for both problems and human achievements.
The author decides he needs to meet Tolle in person to try and resolve some of his questions and doubts. He and a colleague arrange an interview with Tolle, who rarely grants them.
They are granted a one-hour interview with Tolle while he gives a speech in Toronto. The author flies in, hoping to clarify Tolle's teachings and methods more.
The author unexpectedly met Deepak Chopra, a famous self-help author, six weeks after interviewing Eckhart Tolle. She was in Seattle to moderate a debate for Nightline on the existence of Satan. Before the taping, she spotted Chopra at her hotel. He was wearing rhinestone glasses and smelled like he just had a massage.
Chopra is the picture of a self-help guru. The author finds his persona "preposterous" but sees that others are enchanted by it. She asks him for advice on staying in the present moment, as Tolle recommends. Chopra gives her vague advice about meditation, awareness, and accessing her true self."
The author remains skeptical about gurus like Tolle and Chopra. Their teachings seem unrealistic and impractical. However, she recognizes that they have tapped into a genuine longing for meaning and purpose. She believes valuable insights canto be gleaned from them, even if their claims are exaggerated.
Ultimately, the author is left with more questions about spirituality and the ego. She wants practical advice for taming the voice in her head but finds little use from Chopra or Tolle. Still, her encounters with them have spurred her to keep exploring.
• Deepak Chopra, the famous spiritual guru and author, was booked to appear on sABC's Nightline debate show to argue against the existence of the Devil. The narrator, Dan Harris, was assigned to interview the participants beforehand.
• Harris was familiar with Chopra and knew him to be a controversial and combative figure, despite his teachings about peace and serenity. In the pre-interview, Chopra claimed to live entirely in the present moment and to have no regrets about the past or anxieties about the future. However, Harris noticed that Chopra seemed agitated and distracted at times.
• Harris posted a short video of his interview with Chopra on sABC's website, and it received a strong response, including an email from Harris's boss, David Westin, the president of ABC News. Westin invited Harris to discuss the Chopra interview.
• In their meeting, Westin expressed surprise at Harris's profound interest in Chopra. Harris suggested that while Chopra may not be the best example, there were valuable spiritual teachings about living in the present moment. However, Harris felt he failed to articulate these ideas coherently to Westin. He gave Westin a copy of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now.
• Harris wanted to discuss spiritual ideas with trusted friends but struggled to have a productive conversation about them. His attempt to discuss Tolle's teachings with his friend Regina quickly broke down.
• In summary, the passage describes Harris's encounter with Chopra, his boss's reaction and interest in the spiritual topics Harris was exploring, Harris's difficulty articulating these ideas, and his desire to have meaningful conversations about them with others.
The author was intrigued by Eckhart Tolle and his teachings on living in the present moment. However, when the author tried to discuss Tolle's ideas with friends and family, he was met with indifference, mockery, or blank stares. Even his fiancée Bianca seemed only mildly interested in the subject.
The author then turned to Deepak Chopra, who seemed like a contradiction - while claiming to live without stress, Chopra seemed focused on self-promotion and worldly success. The author couldn't tell if Chopra was sincere or not.
Still waiting for answers, the author and his coworker Felicia decided to do a series of stories on the self-help industry for their media organization. The author found the industry to be" "absurd" and full of "crazy" ideas and people.
The author's explorations into spiritual teachings and the self-help industry confused him more. While intrigued by some ideas, the author needed help with what he saw as contradictions in the messengers and their messages.
The author describes several prominent self-help gurus and the questionable nature of their teachings and methods. He focuses on two, Joe Vitale and James Arthur Ray, who gained fame from a popular self-help film called The Secret. Vitale charged extremely high fees for unsubstantial advice and teachings. Ray's methods led to the deaths of three of his followers during a poorly run sweat lodge event.
The author then describes meeting a different kind of self-help teacher, Dr. Mark Epstein, a psychiatrist, and Buddhist, at a hotel bar. Epstein's teachings were based on Buddhist principles that no permanent or independent self exists. His approach appealed to the author because Epstein seemed highly credible, reasonable, and not gimmicky like the other self-help gurus. The author's wife had read Epstein's books years before and suggested the author look into them. The author was intrigued by Epstein's message that the Buddhist path could be a helpful self-help program.
In summary, the key points are:
Many mainstream self-help gurus promote questionable and absurd methods while charging high fees. Some are outright dangerous.
Dr. Mark Epstein offers a more reasonable, ethical approach based on Buddhist philosophy.
The author's wife introduced him to Epstein's work, recognizing it as similar to concepts the author had been exploring.
Epstein believes the ultimate self-help is the Buddhist path of recognizing no permanent self or ego.
Does this summary accurately reflect the chapter's key details and main takeaways? Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand the resume in any way.
• Becoming a doctor requires a long, demanding training process. Medical school typically takes four years, followed by 3-7 years of residency training in a specific medical specialty.
• The path to becoming a doctor is challenging and requires a significant time commitment. Doctorating can take 11-15 years of higher education and training. This includes four years of medical school and at least three years of residency.
• Medical school involves both classroom education as well as hands-on clinical work. The curriculum covers core sciences like anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and clinical topics. Residency training involves direct patient care under the supervision of experienced doctors.
• Aspiring doctors must also pass certain licensing and board certification exams to practice medicine. These exams assess a doctor's medical knowledge, skills, and ability to practice in a specialty.
• The long training process required to become a doctor is necessary to gain the knowledge and skills to practice medicine competently and provide exemplary patient care. However, the length and demands of the training can be difficult for many aspiring doctors.
• In summary, becoming a doctor is a long and challenging process that requires many years of intensive education and training. But for those able to commit, becoming a licensed and board-certified physician can be gratifying.
The author was intrigued by Buddhism and learned a lot by reading books on the topic, especially by Dr. Mark Epstein. However, the author still needed more questions and clarification about core Buddhist concepts like enlightenment, detachment, and ending suffering. He decided to meet with Dr. Epstein in person to discuss these issues.
In their conversation, the author found that Dr. Epstein seemed like a "normal human being" rather than a guru. Dr. Epstein admitted that he still experienced many positive and negative emotions. He did not always claim to be able to stay in the present moment. Regarding Buddhist metaphysics like reincarnation, Dr. Epstein took a pragmatic view.
The author and Dr. Epstein shared some background information. Dr. Epstein grew up in Boston, the son of a doctor, and discovered Buddhism in college. In contrast, the author did not struggle with feelings of emptiness or insignificance. Instead, he tended to feel overly self-assured and as if the world revolved around him. The author asked if this disadvantaged him in becoming a Buddhist.
Dr. Epstein replied that Buddhism could still be useful for the author. While feelings of emptiness or inadequacy are standard "gateways" to Buddhism, arrogance and self-absorption also reflect a lack of awareness of one's actual situation. Buddhism aims to overcome all forms of ignorance about the human condition. The author's tendencies could be seen as obstacles, but overcoming them through Buddhist practice could lead to greater insight and wisdom.
In summary, the author learned from Dr. Epstein that one does not need to have a particular psychological profile or life experience to benefit from Buddhism. The key is developing awareness and overcoming delusions about oneself and reality - a path challenging for all people in different ways. With practice, Buddhism can lead to greater wisdom and contentment regardless of one's starting point.
The author dislikes anything associated with hippies or the New Age, dating back to childhood experiences with yoga and forced camping trips. This made him initially resistant to meditation and Buddhism.
However, his psychiatrist recommended meditation for its health benefits and stress reduction. The author read some books on Buddhist meditation and learned it did not require robes, chanting, or New Age music. His resistance started to lessen.
While on vacation, the author decided on impulse to try meditating. The instructions were simple:
Focus on your breath moving in and out.
Gently bring your attention back to the breath when it wanders.
The key is not to clear your mind but notice when your attention has drifted and redirect it to the breath.
The author found that meditating for a few minutes made him feel curiously alert and centered. Though it was challenging, he wanted to continue exploring it. His long-held assumptions about meditation started to crumble.
The author realized meditation did not require adopting a new belief system or lifestyle. It was simply a tool for managing attention and mental state, which appealed to his pragmatic side. He saw it as similar to exercise for the mind and body.
The author's first experience with meditation made him understand why so many intelligent and ambitious people had made it a habit. Rather than reject his habitual" "monkey mind," meditation allowed him to observe it with a bit of detachment and even good humor. This felt liberating rather than like a chore.
That covers the key highlights from this section on the author's initial experience with meditation and how it began to change his long-held negative assumptions about the practice. Please let me know if you want me to explain or expand on any summary part.
The key idea is that meditation trains your mind to become aware of when it wanders so that you can bring your focus back to the present moment. The author describes his experience learning to meditate and how difficult it was for him. His mind was constantly wandering to random thoughts, physical discomforts, worries about time, etc. However, he came to appreciate how meditation strengthens your ability to concentrate and offers respite from the constant chatter of your mind.
With regular practice, the author improved at using his breath to anchor himself in the present moment, even when not meditating. This allowed him to be less reactive and restless in daily life. He started seeing mundane moments like waiting in line as an opportunity to be mindful. He realized how much time he usually spends on """ autopilot," propelled by his ego and habitual impulses.
The ultimate goal of meditation and mindfulness is to observe the thoughts and feelings that arise without judgment. The author struggled with this, finding it hard not to react to discomfort during meditation. But he understood that mindfulness could help short-circuit his usual trigger of anger followed by regret. It offered an alternative to living reactively, at the mercy of ego and impulse. Mindfulness is a natural human ability that requires training to master.
In summary, meditation, and mindfulness teach awareness, concentration, and non-judgmental acceptance of your experience. These skills translate to day-to-day life with practice, helping you live more deliberately and less reactively. But developing mindfulness is challenging work that takes ongoing effort and patience.
• The author discusses the concept of mindfulness, which is the ability to be aware of one's thoughts and sensations without judgment. Mindfulness is contrasted with excessive thinking, which can lead to anxiety, worry, and ego.
• The author provides examples of noticing hunger or needing to urinate versus worrying about aging or health issues. The mind is compared to a waterfall, with mindfulness being the space behind the waterfall.
• The author discusses struggling with mindfulness in dealing with overeating and career anxiety. He received a call about significant anchor changes at ABC News that would lead to job openings. He was interested in joining Nightline or becoming the weekend anchor of Good Morning America.
• The author met with the president of ABC News, David Westin, to express his interest in both positions. However, Westin was noncommittal, leaving the author feeling uncertain and anxious. The author attempted to be mindful of his frustration but struggled, unclear how to observe his thoughts without judgment.
• In summary, the author aims to illustrate the difficulty of achieving mindfulness during uncertainty and distress. Mindfulness is easy to understand theoretically but hard to put into practice.
Here's a summary:
The author recognizes that while disquiet or worry has practical value in motivating us to address real problems, too much of it can drive us nuts." He tries noting his worrying about being mindful of it but struggles with whether this is helpful or indulgent.
He attends a Buddhist conference where he's embarrassed by the setting and speakers at first, but then finds Mark Epstein's talk on "leaning into "our discomfort through mindfulness to be helpful. However, the author continues to need help with effectively applying this theory.
Unexpectedly, he finds Tara Brach's subsequent talk on her RAIN technique (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Non-identify) to provide a practical method for mindfulness. Though initially off-putting, he comes to appreciate her advice.
He has a "bad day" of worrying and self-recrimination, but applying the RAIN technique helps provide perspective and ease his distress. He sees his anxious thoughts as less authoritative, giving him hope for better handling them.
Still, while recognizing mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness'mindfulness' power, he notes it doesn't erase real problems. He sets up another meeting with Mark Epstein to ask follow-up questions about what has changed and the relationship between thought and reality.
In summary, the author finds a practical way to apply mindfulness through the RAIN technique, giving him a sense of control and hope regarding his anxious thoughts, though not resolving the underlying issues driving them. His journey illustrates the challenge of reconciling and accepting one's discomfort with addressing the problems causing it.
The author talked about mindfulness and meditation with Mark Epstein, a Buddhist psychiatrist. Epstein argued that mindfulness allows you to respond thoughtfully rather than react blindly to situations. He recommended the author go on a meditation retreat to strengthen this skill.
The author then helped produce a debate between Deepak Chopra and skeptics Michael Shermer and Sam Harris on whether God and science are compatible. The author had a positive impression of Harris, who had a meditation background, and recommended the author go on a retreat with Joseph Goldstein, a meditation teacher they both knew.
The author read some of Goldstein's books, which contained Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and meditation and assertions about reincarnation and psychic powers that the author found dubious. However, two brilliant acquaintances had recommended Goldstein's retreats, so the author was intrigued and hesitant.
The key takeaway is that multiple people recommended meditation retreats to the author to gain a valuable skill. Still, the author was skeptical about the more mystical elements discussed in the recommended teacher's books. The author needed clarification about whether to attend a retreat.
The author expresses dread about the upcoming 10-day silent meditation retreat. He is worried about the discomfort of long hours of meditation, strict rules like the ban on speaking, and eccentric fellow meditators. However, he finds it beautiful upon arriving at the Spirit Rock retreat center. The food is also surprisingly good. He meets some friendly fellow meditators who reassure him the first days won't be that bad.
At the opening session in the meditation hall, he observes the serious teachers and the elaborate meditation nests of regulars. He sits in the back, feeling out of place. Kamala's head teacher officially begins the retreat by declaring they have entered silence. She outlines the rules: no talking, reading, or sex. She says the goal is to quiet the mind and open the heart. The author remains apprehensive about what's to come.
The summary covers the essential details leading up to the start of the silent retreat:
The author's worries and expectations
His impressions upon arriving
The rules and goals set out at the opening session
It leaves off at the point where the actual meditation practice is about to begin.
The author attends a 10-day silent meditation retreat led by a renowned Buddhist teacher Joseph Goldstein. He finds the schedule grueling, with up to 10 hours of meditation daily, starting at 5 am. The rules of "noble silence" prohibit most communication between retreatants.
On the second day, the author struggles with the discomfort of sitting cross-legged for long periods. His mind constantly wanders, and he worries he won't be able to get through the retreat. During walking meditation and meals, he observes the other retreatants, who seem grim and zombie-like in their mindfulness.
Goldstein explains the proper way to do walking meditation: slowly pacing in a small area, closely observing the sensations of each step. The author feels sad and homesick, questioning why he came. Though he's able to gain some perspective, the meditation remains difficult. He sees his lack of concentration as a personal failure.
The summary highlights the author's physical and mental struggles in the unfamiliar and demanding environment of the retreat. Though committed to fully participating, he finds the schedule, rules, and discomforts challenging. Still, he persists in the practice, hoping to gain insight and reap the benefits of this intensive experience.
The author continues to struggle with and dislike the meditation retreat. He describes it as straight torture, son."
However, he has an encouraging meeting with Joseph Goldstein, the founder of the retreat center. Goldstein tells him not to worry about excess saliva during meditation and gives other helpful advice. The author finds Goldstein likable and relatable.
The good feelings dissipate when a teacher named Spring introduces a loving-kindness meditation exercise that the author will surely hate.
The summary captures the arc of the author's experiences over the day - struggle, a bright spot with the meeting, and then a return to difficulty. The fundamental details about loving-kindness meditation and saliva issues are included.
The author struggles during the early days of the retreat and considers quitting. He schedules an interview with one of the teachers, Saccharine Spring, and expresses his difficulties. She reassures him that struggling is common and advises him to stop trying so hard and" "be with whatever comes up."
Taking her advice, the author sits outside his dorm on the balcony during the next meditation session. At first, he casually focuses on whatever arises in his mind - neck pain, knee pain, sounds, sensations. Gradually, he achieves a state of "choiceless awareness" where he is entirely focused on whatever arises in each moment as his mind jumps rapidly between sensations, thoughts, and observations. He describes this as an exhilarating experience that provides insight into how the mind works.
He realizes how fleeting each thought and sensation is and gains clarity into how easily stray thoughts in the morning can negatively impact his mood and interactions throughout the day. He understands that "the slipping away is the whole point" - impermanence is directly experienced, not just theoretical. Overall, through achieving choiceless awareness, the author gains a "front-row seat to watch the machinery of consciousness" and valuable insight into the workings of his mind.
The narrator has been attending a silent meditation retreat for six days. At first, it was agonizing, but now things are starting to click. Meditation and walking meditation are becoming more accessible and more enlightening.
During a metta (loving-kindness) meditation, the narrator begins crying while picturing her mother and niece. She experiences an overwhelming feeling of bliss and happiness. She questions whether this feeling is natural or just a result of the suffering from the retreat ending. However, the feeling persists, and she realizes it may signal a shift to a more compassionate way of living.
The narrator attends a dharma talk by Goldstein about how "life is suffering" is a mistranslation. The meaning is closer to "everything in the world is ultimately unsatisfying and unreliable because it won't last." We live anticipating the next pleasant experience but never find lasting satisfaction. Understanding this can lead to greater happiness. The narrator finds the talk moving, despite her usual skepticism.
On the sixth day, the narrator's senses feel heightened. Meditation continues to be easy, and she can investigate painful sensations without honestly being bothered by them. At lunch, she eats mindfully and stops when complete. She feels mudita, or sympathetic joy, for a man enjoying his meal.
In summary, after a difficult start, the narrator has reached a turning point in the retreat where she gains insight and finds more peace and joy. Her perceptions and experiences seem heightened, and she is developing a more remarkable ability to accept what arises without clinging to pleasure or pushing away the pain.
The critical points in the summary are:
The author experiences ups and downs in her meditation practice throughout the retreat. She goes from feelings of bliss and "sympathetic joy" to restlessness, boredom, and doubt.
Her teacher, Joseph Goldstein, reassures her that this variability is normal and that enlightenment is a gradual process that takes diligent practice over time.
Goldstein gives a dharma talk describing the stages of enlightenment in elaborate detail but leaves some of the author's questions unanswered, like why civilization is worth pursuing if it's so hard to achieve.
The author finds Goldstein's advice to ask, "Is this useful?" when worrying, about being very helpful. She sees it as a constructive way to curb excessive rumination without ignoring significant practical concerns.
On the final day of the retreat, the author interacts with other meditators and finds them ordinary, relatable people, contrary to the impressions she had developed while observing them in silence.
Overall, the author values her experience at the retreat but remains somewhat skeptical about the Buddhist goal of enlightenment. She appreciates the practical tools she has gained for managing her mind and emotions.
The critical point is that while the author has found meditation and some Buddhist teachings beneficial, she retains a healthy skepticism about enlightenment and questions whether it is a realistic or meaningful goal for most people. She prefers an approach focused on concrete practices for cultivating mindfulness and equanimity in everyday life.
Here's a summary:
The author was offered a job as weekend co-anchor of Good Morning America, which he eagerly accepted. However, soon after, complications arose in negotiating his contract, and the executive producer told him bluntly that he didn't have the looks or voice to anchor a major newscast.
Around the same time, the author's 10-day silent meditation retreat became known to friends and family, prompting many skeptical questions. He struggled to explain his new meditation practice in a way that didn't make him seem weird or like he'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'd joined a cult.
Finally, in a conversation with a TV news producer friend, he described meditation as making him 10% happier." This phrase resonated with her, and the author found it was an effective way to convey the benefits of meditation without overpromising. He later used the exact word with his skeptical father.
When the author interviewed his meditation teacher, Joseph Goldstein, for an ABC web series on religion, Goldstein described becoming interested in Buddhism and meditation as a bold, self-centered young man. Meditation helped him become more focused and compassionate. The author told Goldstein that meditation made him "10% happier," which Goldstein said was an excellent way to put it.
In summary, after difficulties at work and sharing his new meditation practice with skeptical friends and family, the author found a resonating approach: describing meditation as making him 10% happier. His teacher agreed this was an apt way to convey its benefits without exaggerating.
The man wanted to be an architect or a lawyer but majored in philosophy. He then joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Thailand, where he was first exposed to Buddhism.
He joined a discussion group at a temple in Bangkok but annoyed people by talking too much. A monk suggested he try meditating. He tried it and found it fascinating. He invited friends to watch him meditate, but they did not return.
After the Peace Corps, he moved to India for seven years to study meditation. He returned to the U.S. in the 1970s, wrote books, taught, and led retreats.
He says a 9-day silent meditation retreat gives people a glimpse into how their mind works. Before that, people just acted out of habit and conditioning.
He has yet to achieve full enlightenment but says he has reached some of the early stages. He says he experiences less suffering and attachment to emotions. He says he is not afraid of dying right now.
The author found his claims about enlightenment hard to believe, but the man seemed intelligent and self-aware. The author decided to focus on the practical benefits of meditation he learned.
The author was able to take his boss's criticism that he would never be an anchorman in stride by leaning into it and considering it may be true. He decided to sign a new contract.
He found being a morning show host on Good Morning America harder than anchoring the evening news. It required spontaneity and ad-libbing, which he struggled with at first. He had to get used to the lighter content and logistical challenges like sitting on a couch and exiting conversations smoothly.
You participated in some absurd live TV segments, like dancing while wearing a box on your head and competing in a gingerbread house contest with fellow anchors. You found these mildly humiliating but saw them as an opportunity to move outside your comfort zone.
Your meditation practice and talks with Mark Epstein helped you develop stability and resilience in the face of self-criticism over your performance on Good Morning America. While meditation didn't make self-criticism disappear, it allowed you to step back and gain perspective, mitigating your suffering.
You appreciated the intimacy of morning TV but also found the direct feedback from viewers, which was often critical, to be a "double-edged sword." You kept a file of their comments, which could be harsh.
You met regularly with Mark Epstein, viewing him as a friend and mentor. At brunch one day, he told you that while meditation likely wouldn't eliminate your self-recriminations, it could help them go away more quickly by loosening your attachment to them. He said combining reflection and insight—like realizing the worst-case scenario if you lost your job wouldn't be catastrophic—was helpful.
You concluded that "10% happier" was an apt slogan. Meditation and the insight it allowed weren't a cure-all but a way to mitigate suffering and handle problems better by increasing the space between stimulus and response. Mark, despite decades of meditation, still suffered like anyone else. Mitigation, not alleviation, was the goal.
According to your wife, Bianca, the mitigation you gained through practice and insight made you easier to live with.
The author was surprised to learn that the U.S. Marine Corps was studying the effects of meditation on soldiers. Private First Class Jason Lindemann initially thought meditation was "retarded” but participated in a scientific study. The author discovered that meditation research had exploded and suggested various health and cognitive benefits, from reducing depression and stress to improving focus and memory.
The research boom was sparked by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who created a secular eight-week meditation course called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 1979. MRI studies found that meditation could increase gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in self-awareness and compassion while shrinking the areas involved in stress. Other research found that meditation disrupted the "default mode network" and the part of the brain active when we ruminate about ourselves. This suggested meditation could cultivate a new default mode focused on the present moment.
The research helped overturn the belief that the adult brain cannot change. It suggested meditation could rewire the brain, just as exercise rebuilds the body. Happiness and well-being are skills that can be trained, not just a product of luck or genetics.
The science persuaded even die-hard skeptics to consider meditation, including the author's mom and Diane Sawyer, a famously hard-driving journalist. While the author's dad and wife still didn't meditate, he avoided pushing them on it. The research showed how meditation was emerging from its countercultural niche into mainstream acceptance based on its scientifically demonstrated benefits.
Here are the key points from the summary:
Diane Sawyer, the author's boss, was initially skeptical about meditation but became inspired by research showing how it spread to unusual places. She greenlit a story on the topic.
The author visited General Mills, where a corporate attorney named Janice Marturano introduced meditation and mindfulness practices throughout the organization. She focused on the benefits of leadership, focus, and creativity rather than stress reduction.
Marturano recommended doing one thing at a time instead of multitasking, taking short "purposeful pauses" to be mindful during the day, and not constantly planning and reacting, which can lead to exhaustion and impaired decision-making. Studies show creativity benefits from alternating between hard work and relaxation.
Meditation and mindfulness have become popular to increase focus and effectiveness in many major corporations, business schools, the media, and the U.S. military. Some saw it as a way to gain a competitive advantage or deal with challenges like PTSD or asymmetrical warfare.
Private First Class Lindemann was initially reluctant, but meditation helped him stay calmer in stressful situations. Some marines appreciated how it made them less reactive and less likely to provoke civilians with disproportionate responses.
The spread of meditation to unlikely places showed how scientific research on its benefits had inspired greater mainstream acceptance, even in areas where it seemed counterintuitive. Though initially seen as a "spiritual" or "new age" practice by some, it was now being applied pragmatically.
The fundamental details center around how research into the practical benefits of meditation and mindfulness led to their adoption in areas where they seemed an unlikely fit initially and how specific practices and philosophies regarding focus, creativity, and reactivity spread in corporate and military settings. The summaries and experiences of Marturano and Lindemann provide illuminating examples and advice for pragmatically applying mindfulness techniques.
The narrator was initially skeptical of the Dalai Lama and uncomfortable with some aspects of traditional Buddhism. He preferred the empiricism and hard truths of secular mindfulness.
The Dalai Lama entered the room and immediately went to use the bathroom, showing he was human and unpretentious. His entourage was stern and severe, unlike his popular image.
The narrator came into the interview with a lousy attitude, seeing the Dalai Lama as representing parts of Buddhism he disliked, such as robes, anointment as a child based on dubious signs, and celebrity status from popular culture.
However, the Dalai Lama's humanity, pragmatism, and answers based on science and evidence rather than mysticism changed the narrator's view. The Dalai Lama argued for the importance of compassion based on its benefits for health, relationships, and society.
The narrator realized compassion meditation was just as evidence-based as mindfulness, with research showing its psychological and physical benefits. He saw that boundless compassion was not mystical but pragmatic. His resistance came from a belief in a fixed "kindness set point," and discomfort with understanding, but science showed sense could be strengthened.
The narrator left with a new appreciation for the Dalai Lama and a commitment to practicing compassion meditation based on its clear personal and social benefits. He aimed to strengthen his compassion to improve relationships and gain further insights into his mind.
The key points are that the narrator's view shifted from skepticism to appreciation based on the Dalai Lama's humanity, pragmatism, and evidence-based arguments, especially around the benefits of compassion and how it can be strengthened. The narrator realized he had resisted compassion due to mistaken beliefs and discomfort but was now convinced of its value for himself and society.
The author initially had a skeptical and contrarian view of the Dalai Lama and his teachings. However, after interviewing the Dalai Lama, the author gained a more positive picture of him and what he stood for. In particular, the author was struck by the Dalai Lama's argument that compassion and kindness towards others ultimately benefit oneself. The Dalai Lama described this as being wise selfish rather than foolish selfish."
The author found research showing the benefits of compassion and kindness. Acts of compassion activate the same pleasure centers in the brain as receiving gifts. Compassion and service have been shown to reduce stress, improve health, and increase happiness, popularity, and success. Studies show that compassion meditation can make people more pleasant and empathic. Some research even suggests that nature rewards both the fittest and the kindest.
While the author still had some qualms and doubts, he experimented by adding compassion meditation, known as metta, to his daily practice. Metta meditation aims to overcome feelings of separateness from others. Although challenging, the author felt the effort was worthwhile. Overall, through exposure to the Dalai Lama and scientific research, the author became more convinced of the benefits of compassion.
• Dan Harris started practicing metta, or loving-kindness meditation, as instructed by his meditation teacher, Spring Washam. This involved picturing and sending good thoughts to himself, benefactors, friends, neutral people, difficult people, and all living beings. He found this challenging but saw it as building compassion.
• In the months after starting this practice, Dan noticed positive changes. He started making eye contact, smiling, and engaging in more positive interactions with people. He avoided negative gossip and complaints. He was better able to empathize with difficult people and angry people. He realized actions have consequences in the mind. Kindness and compassion made him feel better, leading to a "virtuous cycle."
• Dan found benefits to being friendly, like manipulating situations and winning people over. His coworkers saw him as easier to work with. His past anger seemed forgotten. He saw Metta World Peace changing his name as an encouraging sign.
• Dan's compassion was challenged when interviewing Paris Hilton. He asked her tough questions about being overshadowed by Kim Kardashian and having her moment pass. She walked away from the interview in response. Dan was left repositioning himself, realizing he had provoked her.
• Overall, Dan cultivated more compassion through his meditation practice. He saw significant benefits in his interactions and relationships. However, it was still a work in progress, as evidenced by his Paris Hilton interview experience. Compassion took ongoing effort and practice.
The author receives an email announcing that Ben Sherwood will be the new boss of the ABC News division. The author has a history with Ben, including both positive experiences and moments of tension.
Ben is a very hands-on boss, personally calling in to critique and praise the staff's work. The author decides not to try too hard to impress Ben, thinking his experience and past relationship with Ben will protect him.
However, the author's passive strategy backfires. Ben sends other reporters to cover major stories in Egypt and Japan while the author stays home. The author regrets not advocating for himself to get those assignments.
The author attends a meditation retreat led by Sharon Salzberg but struggles to focus, given the issues at work. The retreat's setting is an old mansion converted into a meditation center.
In summary, the author faces a professional crisis due to his new boss Ben Sherwood's more critical management style and passive reaction, resulting in missed opportunities. These problematic circumstances challenge his meditation practice.
The author attended a meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society, where he received advice from a teacher named Sharon on dealing with feelings of insecurity at work. She advised turning the situation into an opportunity for insight by recognizing the impermanence of everything.
However, upon returning to work, the author struggled as he was passed over for major assignments and felt like a "benchwarmer." He tried accepting and compassionate, but his wife thought he was too passive.
After months of little progress, the author finally scheduled a meeting with his boss, Ben, to discuss the situation. Contrary to expectations, Ben said the author was still seen as a "major player" but needed to be more proactive in getting TV time and help improve their weekend show. He told the author to "stop being so Zen."
The author realized he had taken the message of "letting go" too far and become ineffective. The meeting with Ben was a wake-up call, confirming what his wife told him.
At dinner that night, the author's friend Mark Epstein advised him to "hide the Zen" at work and be more assertive to counteract people taking advantage of him while avoiding becoming an" asshole." There was a way to do this balancing act, though it would be tricky.
The key lessons were that the author needed to avoid passivity and work harder to keep his career on track while maintaining compassion and avoiding aggression or arrogance. Finding the right balance of these qualities was an ongoing challenge.
The author had made progress in his professional life by following the advice of his boss and mentor, Ben. He started saying yes to more assignments, worked hard, and received praise and more opportunities. He investigated and reported on many important news stories. He also improved his performance as an anchor on Good Morning America by relaxing, listening, and being more natural and spontaneous.
However, the author's progress was not without setbacks. His increased workload made it difficult to maintain his meditation practice. His ego and self-criticism also emerged, especially when he was tired. He was not chosen to cover significant news stories or anchor specific segments, which could have been better. So, while the author had made much progress, his journey was still challenging and imperfect.
The key message is that the author was learning to balance his spiritual and professional sides. He couldn't fully embody the principles of Buddhism and detachment in his high-pressure job. But with the support of his mentor and wife, he was getting better at not being overly self-critical, relaxing into the work, and accepting both successes and failures. The path forward was about maintaining this balance rather than achieving some ideal state.
Nonattachment to results was the critical insight that still needed to be added to my strategy. I had been struggling to reconcile ambition and stability, unable to figure out how to be driven without being overly anxious about outcomes. Mark's advice was that it's OK to work hard toward your goals, but you have to accept that you ultimately have limited control. If you can drop your attachment to how things turn out, you'll be much more resilient and able to bounce back from failures or setbacks.
This" nonattachment to results" was the final piece of the framework I had searched for. I synthesized the key lessons I learned into a list called "The Way of the Worrier." The main principles were:
Don't be a jerk. Treat others with compassion.
When necessary, hide the Zen. You still have to operate in a competitive world.
Meditate. It's the foundation for all the other lessons.
The price of security is insecurity—until it's not helpful. Worry can be productive or pointless; mindfulness helps determine which is which.
Serenity is not the enemy of creativity. Being happier did not make me less driven.
Please don't force it. Accept rather than indulge anxious thoughts.
Humility prevents humiliation.
Go easy on the internal cattle prod. Be less self-critical.
Nonattachment to results. Work hard but accept what you can't control.
What matters most? Keep your priorities straight.
Equipped with this framework, I felt I had achieved "a holistic answer to one of the central challenges for a modern meditator: How can you be a happier, better person without becoming ineffective?" I had a strategy for ambition balanced with tranquility.
The author initially rejected the idea of enlightenment as "weird bullshit" but has accepted it as a real possibility based on recent neuroscience research.
Jud Brewer, a neuroscientist, has invented real-time neurofeedback technology that allows meditators to see when their "default mode network," associated with the ego and mindless thinking, decreases activity. Some meditators have shown significant deactivation of this network.
Brewer argues that enlightenment naturally results from training the brain to prefer mindfulness over habitual clinging and craving. The brain is pleasure-seeking, so it will gravitate toward whatever feels best. Given enough experience with mindfulness, the brain will create a "self-reinforcing spiral" toward enlightenment.
Sam Harris, a noted skeptic, also believes enlightenment is real. He compares it to Olympic-level training of the mind. He claims to have achieved a degree of civilization himself, though not at the level of a Buddha. Like Eckhart Tolle, he thinks sudden enlightenment can also be authentic.
The author has gone from mocking Tolle to accepting that his story of sudden enlightenment could be legitimate. His views have evolved based on encountering more rational explanations for culture.
Enlightenment is a real and natural process of retraining the brain.
Mindfulness practice can inspire a spiral toward enlightenment.
Sudden enlightenment is also possible and can be authentic.
Skepticism about enlightenment may fade in light of neuroscience.
The summary outlines how the author's perspective on enlightenment shifted from rejection to openness, based on exposure to scientific theories and evidence that suggest enlightenment could be a natural phenomenon. The summary touches on the key concepts and examples that contributed to this shift, including Jud Brewer's research, Sam Harris's input, and a softening of Eckhart Tolle. The summary is coherent and captures the essence and trajectory of the author's changed views.
The author reread Eckhart Tolle's The New Earth, a book that started his exploration into spirituality. While the book seemed bizarre, it made more sense now than when he first read it. At first, he was skeptical of Tolle's claim that the book could" "initiate the awakening process." Now, though, he had to admit Tolle was right, at least in his case.
The author is agnostic on whether full enlightenment is possible through meditation or other means. But he's now open-minded rather than closed-minded as he was before. He realizes he had a kind of intellectual gag reflex in response to poetic language about enlightenment. Now his mind is more open.
The author knows there's still more for him to learn. While achieving 100% happiness may not be possible, he can be more than 10% happier - and he's excited to continue trying. Quoting Jeff Warren, he sees meditation as the "next frontier of human exploration." His friends, who introduced him to these practices decades ago, are still passionate about them. The author sees mindfulness, happiness, and compassion as lifelong skills he can continue developing.
The author was offered and accepted a job as co-anchor of ABC's Nightline. While it was a huge promotion, a significant moment came months earlier while reporting in Rio de Janeiro. Interviewing a drug lord, the author had a "moment of clarity," realizing how far he'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'dhe'd come in his practice. His inner voice is still an "asshole" at times, but mindfulness helps restrain it. Though still a hard worker, he's learned to "care and not care," focusing on what matters. He's become happier and more pleasant. Meditation has made him less reliant on unstable external factors. He's more comfortable with impermanence, though still not OK with being killed by the drug lord! The experience reminded him of being in Afghanistan, hoping the camera was rolling.
In summary, the author has come a long way in his practice, becoming happier and changing his perspective, though still with more to learn. His new jobs are exciting, but an encounter with a drug lord gave him an opportunity for insight into his progress and what matters.
Here's a summary:
Nick Watt, Ricky Van Veen, Wonbo Woo, Glen Caplin, Zev Borow, and Hannah Karp provided guidance and early encouragement for the author's book. The author's agent, Luke Janklow, and editor, Denise Oswald, supported and helped the author through the process. The team at It Books, including Lynn Grady, Michael Barrs, Sharyn Rosenblum, Tamara Arellano, Beth Silfin, and Rob Sternitzky, contributed to the book.
William Patrick made valuable late contributions. Many current and former ABC News colleagues, including Ben Sherwood, Diane Sawyer, James Goldston, Barbara Walters, David Muir, George Stephanopoulos, Bill Weir, Chris Cuomo, Dr. Richard Besser, Jake Tapper, David Wright, Bob and Lee Woodruff, Jeffrey Schneider, Alyssa Apple, Julie Townsend, Barbara Fedida, Felicia Biberica, Almin Karamehmedovic, Jeanmarie Condon, Bianna Golodryga, Ron Claiborne, Ginger Zee, Sara Haines, John Ferracane, Tracey Marx, Cynthia McFadden, Dan Abrams, Alfonso Pena, Diane Mendez, Nick Capote, Miguel Sancho, Beau Beyerle, Wendy Fisher, David Reiter, Joe Ruffolo, Simone Swink, Andrew Springer, and Jon Meyersohn contributed in various ways.
Personal friends who provided help include Willie Mack, Josh Abramson, Jason Harris, Jason Hammel, Kori Gardiner, Meg Thompson, Stephan Walter, and Kaiama Glover.
The author borrowed or modified phrases from Gary Shteyngart, Benjamin Kunkel, and Ben Sherwood.
The author thanks parents, Jay and Nancy Lee Harris, for their support and allowing the author to write about them honestly.
In summary, many colleagues, friends, and family members provided guidance, encouragement, and support for the author in writing this book.
• Learning meditation takes practice. Don't expect to feel relaxed or experience significant benefits right away.
• The key is not to achieve some particular state but to be aware of whatever is happening in the present moment. Let go of judging yourself for what arises in your mind.
• If you're in pain, investigate the pain and your resistance. Shift only if you risk injury.
• To overcome fatigue, meditate, splash water on your face, or rub your body. If needed, go to bed.
• To overcome boredom, increase the difficulty of your meditation or note what boredom feels like.
• Don't worry if controlling your breath feels artificial. What matters is cultivating mindfulness.
• Try other meditations like a body scan, walking meditation, metta (compassion meditation), or open awareness. These can help if breath meditation causes panic.
• Noting thoughts is a skillful use of thinking to direct your mind to the present moment. But noting can also lapse into judgment.
• Being mindful means being aware and in the moment. Meditation is more than just being in the moment.
• Transcendental Meditation (TM) involves repeating a mantra. It builds concentration. Mindfulness meditation, based on Buddhism, develops awareness. Both have benefits.
• Meditation may not suit those with severe mental health issues. Consult a professional.
• Experienced teachers vetted the instructions here, but generally, be wary of inexperienced teachers.
• Meditation and faith can co-exist for many. Some believe meditation erodes confidence, while others find it enhances loyalty. There are Christian, Jewish, and Muslim meditative traditions.
Does this summary accurately reflect the key points? Let me know if you have any other questions!
Some Christians criticize meditation and Buddhism as contrary to spirituality. However, others argue meditation has been part of many faiths and can help strengthen religious practice.
Even just 5 minutes of meditation a day can have benefits. The effects build over time with regular practice.
Meditation can help reduce emotional reactivity and make you 10% happier and more satisfied. It may not solve all your problems, but it can significantly help your mental well-being.
The author, Dan Harris, is an ABC news anchor who has reported worldwide. Though agnostic, he has covered faith and religion. This book shares his personal experience learning and practicing meditation.
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