10% Happier

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, by Dan Harris.  It Books (Harper Collins), 2014.

Here’s an unusual combination: an account of meditation and mindfulness practice combined with anecdotes of famous people, told from the viewpoint of someone who has met and interviewed them. Harris co-anchored Nightline and Good Morning America, was mentored by the likes of Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer, and has filed stories from exotic places around the world. The two aspects–inward practice and outward celebrity–provide a good balance; I found it irresistible!  Regarding mindfulness practice, I have undertaken several silent Buddhist retreats much like the one Harris describes in detail, so I was right there “with” him.  (The Japanese Zen sesshin-style retreats I sat are actually even more demanding than the Vipassana retreat Harris chose; for example, having to eat meals while sitting on the floor and engaging in a very structured ceremony of serving, bowing, chanting, and cleaning one’s own dishes.)  Stripped of off-putting metaphysics, mindfulness techniques have been used widely and successfully in hospitals and other therapeutic settings.

This practical, useful book delivers on what it promises: to help stressed-out people from all walks of life do what the subtitle says.

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