Dan Harris on the Value of "Purposeful Pauses"

Journalist
The ABC correspondent explains that you can integrate short bursts of meditation into your life by way of purposeful pauses. Harris is author of the book "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."
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Dan Harris: Here’s another thing my friend Janice Marturano taught me which is that there’s a way that you can integrate meditation into your daily life in short bursts. So she calls them purposeful pauses. I’m not a huge fan of that – it’s a little jargony – sorry Janice, I do love you. But let’s go with that phrase. Essentially her argument is there are times during the day that we often use to let our ego, our inner narrator run wild like when your computer’s booting up in the morning or when you’re driving to work or when you’re waiting for the elevator. You can actually co-opt those in between moments to just focus on what’s happening or focus on your breath which is a great way to boost the muscle of focus. It’s also a great way to reduce that frazzled feeling that is kind of the background static of our lives.

Bringing yourself to a point of focus repeatedly through the day can just make you feel a lot less hectic than you need to feel. That’s not to say that you’re gonna stop feeling crazed. We all feel crazed, especially if we’re doing something we love in a high pressure environment. But there’s a way to minimize it. Meditation isn’t about erasing all of your problems or clearing the mind which is a huge, huge PR problem for meditation. It’s about creating a different relationship to the chaos of the mind. In 1984 during a presidential debate Ronald Reagan looked over at Walter Mondale and uttered the famous words, “There you go again.” For me at least 10 percent of the time I’m able to look at the chaos in my mind and say, “There you go again.” I’m standing in line at Starbucks, somebody cuts me off and I can see that my mind saying you’re angry. This is bad. You know, I can feel my chest buzzing and my ears getting hot and I can catch what’s going on and not take the bait.

That is a superpower. That makes you the calmest person in the room during a high intensity meeting. That makes you less likely to check your email when your kid is talking to you. It makes you less likely to put your hand in the fridge when you’re not actually hungry. This is a huge value add.  Again, to be repetitive deliberately, it’s not gonna solve all of your problems but it might make you 10 percent happier.