LIFE HACK

Tips for reluctant meditators

No time for mindfulness? This man can help. Tap to read how.

Ten Percent Happier Meditation

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When Dan Harris tells us that he’s meditated two hours every single day for the past two and half years, the first thing that comes to our admittedly un-Zen-like mind is, “OK, Dan Harris. Whatever.

Harris – co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America, author of the bestseller 10% Happier and the recently released Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, creator of the 10% Happier meditation app, podcast host, husband, father and all around over achiever – is well aware of how annoying he sounds. Which is why he usually doesn’t mention it.

5:42 a.m. Dan Harris sneaking in 5 minutes of meditation on the cab to work. Pockets of downtime let him hit his goal of 2 mindful hours a day.

Stolen moments

“If I tell people I do two hours a day, they’re either going to think, ‘This guy’s crazy’ or ‘There’s no way I’m getting to two hours a day so I’m not going to do this.”

But whether you’re trying to meditate for one minute a day or 120, the hurdle is the same. “There’s this perception of time starvation,” he says. “The biggest obstacle is finding the time, but I think a lot of that is psychological.”

When Harris evangelises the benefits of meditation to the harried who barely have time to brush their teeth before bed, his advice is to start small. The guided meditations in the 10% Happier app (which are led by some of the most respected meditation teachers in the West, like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg) start at just one minute.

6:20 a.m. By now, Harris has clocked two meditations since waking up at 3:45 a.m. “The trick for my line of work is you want to have been up for long enough that you don’t look tired by the time you go on the air.”

Watching the clock

“One minute of meditation does count,” says Harris. “And it lowers the bar in a way that makes adopting a meditation habit easier.”

They’re also the key to Harris’s hack for hitting two hours a day: He squeezes in short bursts whenever he can find time – in the cab to work, waiting to go on air, before bed – and tracks his running total using the Mindful Minutes feature in the Apple Health App.

8:10 a.m. Harris doing a walking meditation. See the 10% Happier app for a handy how-to.

Life in balance

Harris is nearly three years into his two-hour-a-day challenge, but he had a rocky start. “Frankly it caused a lot of problems with my wife, because I did a really dumb thing – I just started doing it, and we had a 6-month-old,” he says.

“It took me a while to figure out how to sneak it in so it wouldn’t take away from our family time.”

His secret to achieving work-family meditation balance? Being a ‘secret squirrel’ and only doing it when he’s not home or when his family’s asleep. “I’m aided and abetted by my kooky schedule. It works out, but the embarrassing truth is that I was not very skilful in the beginning.”

Placid perks

Harris didn’t undertake the challenge to achieve a specific goal, but it wasn’t long before he saw the payoff. “Calm. Focus. Mindfulness so your urges and impulses don’t yank you around. And compassion,” he says.

I’m a child of scientists and I’m married to a scientist, so I try to be very careful of any claims I make.

Despite spending roughly 8 percent of his day doing ‘nothing’, Harris found the practice helps him accomplish more.

“I’m a child of scientists and I’m married to a scientist, so I try to be very careful of any claims I make,” he says.

“The two hours has boosted my productivity and creativity in ways that allow me to take on a workload that years before I probably could not have handled.”

8:00 p.m. Harris meditates 33 minutes before hitting the hay. Mission accomplished.

His advice to aspiring meditators is straightforward: experiment and see what works for you. And don’t give yourself any excuses.

“The mind is looking for excuses.”

    Ten Percent Happier Meditation

    Find calm, insight, and sleep

    VIEW