How did a skeptical journalist find his way from depression and panic attacks to a more balanced, mindful life? Meditation.
For a long time, meditation was sold in a way that made many people wary of its actual benefits. But now, we know this practice of sitting calmly, focusing on the breath, and watching thoughts come and go can actually produce physiological shifts in the brain and in our ability to cope with the stressors of life.
Our guest on today’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Dan Harris, walks us through his own journey into meditation and the amazing payoff it’s had in his life. Dan is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and the co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America. He is the author of two New York Times best-sellers, 10% Happier and Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book. He went on to launch the 10% Happier podcast and an app called 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
As a young journalist with a demanding career, Dan first tried to cope with stress and anxiety by becoming a workaholic, which led to self-medicating with drugs in search of temporary relief. A panic attack on national television made Dan realize he needed to find a better way to manage his mental and emotional health. As a journalist, he naturally needed to unpack the research before buying into the meditation hype. Once he did, meditation became a way for Dan to understand his inner dialogue, lower emotional reactivity, heighten emotional intelligence, improve focus, and reduce frustration.
Neuroscientists have backed up these benefits by observing changes in brain scans when people meditate. A regular practice has even been associated with increased grey matter in the hippocampus, the area related to learning and memory, as well as areas related to self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Dan shares how just one minute a day may be enough to get you on the path towards all these benefits, and more. He’s worked with companies like Apple to create corporate meditation practices and has seen amazing results from those willing to commit a small part of their day to meditation. I’ve experienced the benefits myself, too, which is why I meditate every day as part of my self-care routine.
I hope you’ll tune in to this week’s episode and discover the science behind this powerful practice.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD