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Dan Harris Explains Purposeful Pauses and Single-Serving Meditation

Although he’s not a fan of the term, Dan Harris cites the practice of purposeful pauses as a superpower of sorts that can help restore one’s inner calm.

ABC News Correspondent Dan Harris returns to the topic of meditation in today’s featured Big Think video. Harris, who champions mindfulness as a sort of superpower after it helped him recover from an on-air panic attack, 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 StoryIn the following clip, he explains what Janice Marturano calls “purposeful pauses”:

Basically, a purposeful pause is meditation in a single serving:

“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.”

Some people get scared away from meditation because their only visualization of it is what they’ve seen in documentaries about Tibetan monks. As Harris explains, mindfulness is so much more accessible than that. All it takes is 45 seconds of calm while the elevator reaches your floor to take advantage of meditation’s benefits.

“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.”

Harris later describes purposeful pauses as “not taking the bait” when your mind takes off running in undesirable directions. “That is a superpower,” says Harris. Meditation probably won’t ever net you a starring role in a comic book but it can help you be the calmest and most focused person in the room.

For more on purposeful pauses and meditation in single servings, check out this 2013 Huffington Post article by Janice Marturano.


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