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Book review: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Dan Harris & Joseph Goldstein

Meditation for the curious yet perhaps reluctant or uncertain

Marni Amsellem, Ph.D.

The latest book on meditation from ABC News Anchor Dan Harris and colleagues, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics is a practical resource for anyone who is even remotely curious about the practice and benefits of meditation.  Harris has collaborated with author and meditation expert Jeff Warren and journalist Carlye Adler to produce an easy-to-read and easy-to-relate-to book touting (but not proselytizing) the benefits of meditation. As a practicing clinical psychologist, I am often asked about practical ways to get started meditating, useful meditation tips for when the time is short, and generally, how meditation can be effective. I will not hesitate to recommend this book for individuals who are curious about meditation and how to incorporate it into their lives.

This book centers around the authors’ journey on an 11-day bus tour (traveling on the 10% Happier bus) speaking to the meditation-curious. The narrative is sprinkled with humor, personal anecdotes, personal challenges, practical tips, and a variety of meditations to try. The authors include Pro Tips, such as incorporating imagery, finding the time to meditate, silencing active minds, and the importance of experimenting to find out what works best for each meditation practitioner. Frequently asked questions are answered and meditation myths are debunked.

While there are research-based and neuroscience-backed findings sprinkled throughout the book, what distinguishes this book from others on this topic is the focus on making meditation something that people will put into action. As Harris states, “whereas I was once obsessed with simply demystifying meditation as a way to popularize the practice, I am now fixated on finding specific ways of helping people get over the hump and actually do the thing.” As a professional who often focuses on promoting behavior change, this aspect of the book is what drew me in.

This book is the second meditation-focused publication from Dan Harris. His first book, 10% Happier, is a memoir of coming to find meditation (a journey that began following his 2004 on-air panic attack, and is part of the family of products and services on this topic  10% Happier app and 10% Happier podcast. Dan Harris will share these experiences with The Avielle Foundation community as part of the Brainstorm Experience this week for all interested in hearing more in his own words.

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