“There’s No Substitute for Meditation”—Dan Harris on Charlie Rose

ABC News anchor Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier talks about mindfulness meditation, sleep, and work-life balance on Charlie Rose.  

Dan Harris, anchor of ABC News Nightline, and the Weekend Edition of Good Morning America, recently wrote a memoir about his public breakdown and journey to mindfulness entitled 10% Happier.

In an interview on Charlie Rose this month, Harris talked about his drug abuse ten years ago that lead to an on-air panick attack and how he stumbled upon meditation—Harris practices mindfulness meditation.

Rose asked if there was a substitute practice that could yield the same benefits as meditation. (Rose was very insistent on the power of naps.) “I don’t think anything does,” Harris replied. “People ask me this all the time: What about my gardening, is this meditation? What about my running?

“I think meditation can be anything you pay attention to. I just think you need a couple of minutes a day of formal practice in order to really get it.”

Harris says the biggest hurdles to people trying meditation is the time factor. He suggests starting with ten minutes a day. (Twenty minutes into the segment, Harris demonstrates mindfulness meditation to Rose.)

Rose asks Harris how long it took him to get into meditation. Harris says he didn’t like it at first, and was initially turned off by what he calls “self-help gurus” full of grandoise language and pseudo-scientific claims. (If you want to learn more about Harris’ thoughts on meditation’s PR problem, watch Mindful’s interview.)

During the interview, Rose insists that napping might be a substitute for meditation. Harris argues that the benefits of mindfulness meditation for focus are paramount:

What you’re doing in meditation is trying to focus on one thing, and then you’re going to get lost, you’re going to start thinking about lunch[…]—your mind is just going to go nuts. The whole game is to notice that you’ve gotten lost and to start over. And that’s a muscle. You’re exercising the focus muscle in your brain.