Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, Dan Harris’s follow-up to the 2014 book about meditation called 10% Happier, is less a memoir than the previous book, and more of a how-to book on meditation. Dan Harris and Jeff Warren do a cross-country road trip with meditation. They meet friends and other celebrities that the introduce meditation to and encourage the reader or listener to learn along the way. I made sure to mention listener because this book is primarily an audiobook. Both Dan Harris and Jeff Warren talk about meditation throughout this book and Warren gives guides meditations.
There is a ton of information in this book. They touch on many different aspects of meditation including meditation for focus, compassion, healing, and investigating feelings. A lot of the sections are divided up between common excuses people use for not meditating like “I don’t have the time or people will think I’m weird.” In fact, I think that Harris and Warren try to cover a little too much in this book. There just are too many different types of meditations in this book that it’ll be a little overwhelming for the reader to remember and implement each and every one of them. They really tried to make this a one stop book on mindfulness meditation but it could have been split up in multiple books with greater emphasis on each type of meditation. I get why they did what they did but it gets a little overwhelming.
When I read some of its reviews, one large criticism of this book is that Harris is trying to hard to be personable and congenial. He says phrases that are a bit silly and it can be annoying for some readers. Jeff Warren’s “guided meditations” can have instances where there is an interruption in the process because of his desire to be humorous. I do think they needed to be serious at certain moments in this book and the overall tone is one of silliness in order for normal people not be intimidated by meditation. In this aspect, I believe they failed. Meditation is naturally something that people need to take seriously or it just won’t work for them. Jokes are fine and alright but while you are trying to focus on your breath, the last thing you want is for the guided meditator to try to crack jokes.
Regardless of my criticism with this book, I still think I got a lot out of it. It will be something I’ll reread in the future and take my time with. I recommend it for people wanting to try meditation and to get a better understanding of what meditation entails after just focusing on your breath.
10% Happier is written by ABC News t.v. journalist Dan Harris about his life and experiences with meditation. The first thing that needs to be said is that this is a memoir and not a straight-up self-help book on meditation. I knew that Harris was going to go into his experience with meditation but I wasn’t prepared for him talking about his journalism career in detail. I ended up enjoying him talking about his career but if journalism doesn’t interest you at all, then this book might not work for you.
Harris talks about his early career in journalism and how his constantly thinking mind, preparing for all situations, really gave him an edge as a journalist. Harris was over-ambitious and really only cared about his career. Later in his career, he struggled with getting angry if things didn’t go his way. Everything crashed around him after becoming a drug addict and having an anxiety attack on live television. He realized he needed to change or he would be out of a job soon.
Harris was given the religion beat on ABC News and as a huge skeptic of all forms of spirituality, he went after the stories that he deemed to be sensational. He was extremely judgmental of all religious people and through being proved wrong time and time again, he gradually makes fewer assumptions. While he is doing the religion coverage, Harris is attempting to find something to help with his anxiety. Self-help books on mindfulness become something that Harris gets into and he is introduced to meditation. Through meditation, even an intense 10-day meditation vacation, which is the most interesting part of the book, Harris is able to become the man he wants to become.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought that listening to a skeptic talk about meditation was a good way to work through my own issues with meditation/Buddhism because we had similar issues with the practice. I go through times in my life when I need meditation to calm my brain a bit and it has worked for me. I haven’t made it a habit though and I think that by listening to this audiobook it has made me a believer once again. I started meditating again a few days ago and I am already seeing some benefit.
I think this is a good book/audiobook for skeptics like Harris that aren’t really into spirituality. I think Harris does a good job at delivering the book in a way to connect to the average Joe that isn’t really interested in Buddhism but wants to try meditation. Harris’ humor is decent in this book but at times, he can come off smarmy. There is some talk near the end of the audiobook about the scientific benefits of meditation if that sounds interesting. This is not a book for people that already know a lot about meditation and Buddhism. This is a barebones look at meditation and more importantly, Harris’ journey. It definitely helps if you have watched Dan Harris on t.v. to enjoy this book to the full measure.