Can compassion meditation make you '10 Percent Happier?'
For years, I've had friends advocate meditation. And for years, I've insisted that my I-don't-like-to-sit-still, multi-tasking mind can't even master the concept. Earlier this year, however, I came across one of those books that has the potential to change lives: "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story" (click for details).
In it, Nightline anchor Dan Harris tells the true tale of how he survived a panic attack on national TV and made peace with the "voices" in his mind. His journey is beautifully written, funny and moving at the same time, and - while very personal - also a fascinating look at the many ways that different forms of spirituality and psychology can provide healing and help.
And I admit it: He got me with his cats, who he rescued from the animal shelter (my own rescue kitty is purring on my feet as I type this). So I decided that if a famous cat-loving journalist who had suffered panic attacks and anxiety that equaled my own found help with meditation (I don't have a middle name, and I've often thought I should give myself one, such as Joanne Anxiety or Joanne Worry), I could try.
While I found the walking meditation helpful (and continue to practice it daily for short periods of time), I was drawn in by the compassion meditation. The practice involves sending positive thoughts to yourself, to friends (and yes, you can direct your compassion meditation to your cat, says Dan, which I promptly did) and even to those who have inflicted you with (my current favorite phrase) their pathological altruism.
My advice: If you've ever wondered if meditation might help you, get this book. It's not the "woo-woo" words of wisdom that tend to make many recoil: It's just downright wonderful. You can get more information about "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story" by clicking here.
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