I’ve become a fan of books from journalists simply because their superpowers include extensive research abilities and storytelling. Dan Harris isn’t an exception, this book was very informative and entertaining to read. The best part was learning about ‘meditation for fidgety skeptics‘ from a real-life fidgety skeptic. His perspective on meditation is one that would resonate with most of us. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned from his book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
1. It’s not a religious practice
Dan Harris makes sure that you understand that right off the bat. Though Buddhism among others do have a meditation component, you can meditate without it being a religious practice. Harris actually considers making time for meditation as a form of self-care for your mind.
2. It’ll make you a better parent/person
My new mantra has been blatantly stolen from this book “Respond, don’t react”. There’s a big difference between the two, the main one being consciously working on the volatility of your emotions. My 3-year old shouldn’t be able to make me very angry, at least not very easily. Nobody should. Meditation will help you handle stressful situations in calmer, more effective ways.
3. It’s like a brain workout
Meditation is a skill that needs to be developed. Studies show that meditation can increase your brain plasticity. Meaning even the oldest dog among us could learn some new tricks! Being sound of mind is the best way to age, we should consider exercising our minds like we do the rest of our bodies. Our brains have an autopilot function, or a ‘monkey mind’, that meditation dutifully shines a light on to find out where our minds often wanders off to obsessively. The goal isn’t to think of nothing, it’s to consciously live in the moment (practice mindfulness). ‘Meditation for fidgety skeptics‘ offers several ways to train your mind to meditate.
4. It could improve your health
Meditation has been proven to be an effective method to lower stress levels and improving sleep quality. Harris and Warren share countless studies, including this one from Yale University, that showcase the benefits of meditation. They also share many personal stories from themselves and others on their meditation tour across the US.
5. You can learn to meditate
in this age of distraction, focusing on anything for any stretch of time could prove to be a challenging feat. In fact, most of us spend the majority of our time obsessing about the past, or busily planning our near-future. I’ll admit that reading about how to meditate could be challenging to wrap your head around. The 10% happier app associated with the book allows readers to participate in guided mediations. If you don’t think you can sit still in a distraction-free state with your eyes closed, then it might be a sign that you need to meditate.
“If you always have on foot in the past, and the other in the future, then you’re pissing on the present.”
I’m grateful to have found this gem of a book. It has introduced me to useful meditation methods that I didn’t know existed.