When you have a panic attack live on ABC News, how are you supposed to react? For most people, it would represent their worlds imploding and Dan Harris was no exception. A high-stress, self-denigrating and competitive working environment will heap ever-building pressure upon the shoulders of a news reporter-turned-anchor and, eventually, the human kettle will always reach a boiling point.

This event was broadcast live on ABC News on June 7th, 2004, and Dan Harris’ career-breaking moment transmitted to about 5.2 million people. He thought his life was over, but it turned out to be the transformative experience that he needed to go on to write the New York Times Number 1 Best-seller “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” and launching the equally successful meditation app 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
From a career of journalism into anchoring and news reporting, Dan Harris is an experienced storyteller and it comes across in this book. For anyone who is foreign or sceptical with regard to the concept of meditation or spirituality, you will relate to every stage of Dan’s journey and it will guide your understanding.
Dan began at ABC news under the influential wing of Peter Jennings, the famous news-caster and beloved American career journalist where he cultivated his craft. It was a great environment for professional improvement, but being the youngest news report on Jennings’ team it became a stressful and life-consuming task. As he improved professional, the tension on the thread that was Dan’s life grew and grew. He was given the job of covering religious stories by Peter, gaining exposure to numerous different religious sects and beliefs and eventually getting opportunities to anchor, covering when full-time anchors were away. But before long it reached a point where the thread snapped.
The majority of the story is following Dan’s story of delving into religion and the development of his knowledge of spirituality. Over a period of a few years, he had the opportunity to meet Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, the Evangelical pastor Ted Haggart, Mark Epstein, the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein and eventually even the Dalai Lama. By delving into the writings of these men, he discovers the ancient Buddhist art of meditation.
After a year of daily practice, study, reading and growth he attends a ten-day retreat which is depicted in immense detail, including all of the highs and lows of the intense periods of practice. He relays the scepticism, the emotion and sadness, the moment of enlightenment and then the empty feeling that stems from that moment’s fading.
For anyone who has heard of meditation and is remotely curious, this book will pique your interest just a little further. When a celebrity who is on national TV bares his story so openly, you can see impartially the journey into spirituality available for all of us and the benefits and drawbacks of such a journey. From hyper-stressed anxiety-inducing pressure to an overly meek, almost passive approach from going to deep into meditation, then finally rediscovering a happy medium where compassion and mindfulness can be balanced with a type-A personality’s drive and focus, Dan Harris’ book depicts the entire voyage of adventure and discovery from curiosity to full-blown acceptance over 5 years.
As someone who already practices meditation, the revelations that Dan experienced have only cemented my desire to attend my first 7-day meditation retreat this summer. His retreat was 10-day, but I believe the opportunities for self-discovery will be the same. I have already purchased this book and lent this book to multiple friends after I was lent it myself. I am thinking of buying more copies to distribute.
Working in a physical training environment, the vast majority of my colleagues and friends know how to maintain and improve their bodies. When they are injured, they rehab; when they want to get stronger, they lift heavy weights; when they want to get fitter, they do more cardio or intervals. I know very few people who take the same approach with their minds. The mind is worthy of training, of honing and sharpening. We do this in one way with learning, reading and development, but none of these teaches you the skill to detach from your thoughts and look at them in isolation. Meditation provides this “super-power” and is something everyone could benefit from.
In this small and easy read, Dan Harris grips your attention from the word go. I read this book in less than two days, and the narrative is easy to follow and a delightful roller-coaster to ride shotgun on. It will incite the curiosity in anyone who deigns to read it.

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