Oh, we’ve heard it: You can’t teach an aging and restless mind groov-a-licious mindfulness tricks. A new book by longtime ABC News correspondent Dan Harris almost agrees. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10 Percent Happier How-to Book gives reluctant meditators what they always seem to want, which is an excuse to fail.
“TV newsrooms are like the embodiment of ‘the monkey mind,'” writes Harris, who’s sympathetic to all of us middle-aged folks seemingly incapable of sitting still. “I’ve spent my entire adult life in this milieu, one that is decidedly uncongenial to meditation.”
In the early 2000s, however, Harris had real reason to re-think the notion of mindfulness. He had a panic attack—while broadcasting on national television, and almost ever since he’s championed meditation for making him right again. But Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics is Harris’s best and most effective attempt at bringing meditation to those who have been most resistant and reluctant to develop their own practices. In a few words, Harris simply makes it okay for us to flub our attempts at creating a quiet mind. “The whole game in meditation is just to begin again,” he writes.
Think about how you’ve mastered myriad skills, be they athletic, emotional, or deployed from behind a desk. Mistakes and missteps have often led to greater successes. Harris says that trial and error are also part of honing one’s ability to meditate. And while hard proof of meditation’s benefits remains elusive, Harris and a long, long list of other practitioners wouldn’t be without a regular meditation practice that many believe buoys body and mind.
In his book, Harris explains how the benefits of meditation are within grasp of anyone who has a minute to spare, and who can put together 10 consecutive breaths. Plus, he writes, “it does not necessarily entail a lot of the weird stuff I feared it might.”
You’ve spent the better part of a lifetime determinedly developing skill sets. Harris says to think of meditation less as a curiosity and more of a challenge. Now wrap that old mind of yours around an even older practice, which has somehow been made satisfactorily new.