Mind-Body

Emma Seppälä interviews Dan Harris

ABC’s Dan Harris: How distraction can make you a better meditator, and other advice for meditation skeptics

This article is getting on in age (February 3), but I still wanted to mention it. I found it to be very well worth reading, especially since both Emma Seppälä  and Dan Harris  are very knowledgable and approachable in what they do.

One of the best things Dan does is hammer on this nail constantly. You shouldn’t try to clear your mind. You can’t.

The biggest misconception — which is a true misunderstanding — is the idea that you have to clear your mind. There are thousands of kinds of meditation. The one I talk about is mindfulness, which involves sitting in a reasonably quiet place and focusing on the feeling of your breath coming in and out. Every time you get distracted, you start over again — and again and again.

For many people, the moment they get distracted their ego tells them that they are failed meditators. What you need to know is that the moment you notice you were distracted, that’s a victory! It means you’re doing it correctly. You’re noticing again and again how distractible or emotional or negative you tend to be. The result is that you aren’t so yanked around by these tendencies. That’s an incredibly important and powerful process.

The biggest obstacle — also a misconception — to meditation is that meditation requires a bunch of time. People often tell me that they’d like to meditate but don’t have time. The answer there is that I have good news and better news. Five to ten minutes a day is a great meditation habit and scientists agree that even this short amount of time allows you to access the benefits: a boosted immune system, less vulnerability to anxiety and depression, etc. The even better news: If you feel like five to 10 minutes is too much, one minute counts. Really.

The whole thing is great, and of course he just released a new book with Jeff Warren  and Carlye Adler , called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. I decided to get it on Audible as an audiobook. If you, like me, enjoy Dan’s particular brand of humor spoken in his own voice, I recommend you do the same.

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