Before I start, I am empathetic to Dan Harris’ journey to find “more” happiness (at least 10% more). After leaving the Air Force, I lost clear purpose and struggled (struggle) with happiness. Since, I realigned “integrity” in my life, wonderful things have happened. Purpose has morphed from serving my country to serving others in Leadership. But leadership is elusive and complicated (actually, the paradox is that I make it elusive and complicated).
In reading, I found it interesting that my journey has mirrored his, coming in either direct or indirect contact with many of the same cast of characters. His journey began as an assignment by Peter Jennings to report on US spirituality, which guided him toward many different religious leaders, in which he found meditation in Buddism. My journey was to find a way to teach happiness (as an outcome of leadership) and make better leaders. Both of these paths lead to mediation as a tool to teach us to respond vs react to difficult situations that arise in our humanity while becoming more compassionate, focused (mindful), and “consciously” aware of what “is”; and additionally, a path to be closer to God.
(Harris p19) – “When you are cut off from your emotions, they manifest in your body”
(Harris p88) – “Therapy often leads to understanding without relief”
(Harris p89) – “We suffer because we cling to things that don’t last…nothing lasts, including us…the true route to happiness is the visceral understanding of impermanence.”
(Harris p90) – “let go and drop your attachments [which is key] to recognize the wisdom of insecurity.
(Harris p91) – “churning of the ego … monkey mind”
(Harris p112) – RAIN = Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Non-Identification
(Harris p115) – respond rather than simply react
(Harris p135) – Metta – May you be happy, May you be safe and protected from harm, May you be healthy and strong, May you live with ease.
(Harris p145) – “Is this useful” a response to our need to look forward or backward in our lives based on reflection or planning. When looking forward or backward no longer is useful, let it go.
(Harris p172) – Janice Marturano brought mediation to General Mills with the purpose of making you a better leader
(Harris p201) – “Praise Allah, but still tie your camel to the post”
(Harris p207) – “Striving is fine as long as it’s tempered by the realization that, in an entropic universe, the final outcome is out of your control. If you don’t wast your energy on variables you cannot influence, you can focus more effectively on the ones you can” – let go of attachment to outcomes, not meaning you shouldn’t strive to succeed, just accept it might not turn out exactly as you want.
(Harris p210) – “There is no point in being unhappy about the things you can’t change, and there is no point in being unhappy about the things you can.”
(Harris p212) – litmus test of activity – “What Matters Most”
Finally, I caveat that I am a Christian and have found meditation extremely helpful in my own life. I believe it creates a connection to calmness, and opens my mind in awareness and creativity, whatever that means. One step further might be to say, prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening.
As a side note, as I coached another man, meditation is a great place to “fail” and practice “failing” and then accepting failure and setting it aside (I fail at not letting my mind wander, I fail at not scratching my nose, I fail at posture, I fail when I hear the dog barking next door, etc). I don’t like failing. However, failing is also another entry point toward creativity, pivots, and alignment.
I have been engaged in various neurologic studies and brain training which proves the incredible medical benefits of meditation. And although I have been confronted by members of my religious community concerned about my spirituality and the perceived conflict of Eastern Religion and Christianity, I am undeterred. Simply put, Philippians 4:8 & Joshua 1:8 (and many of the Psalms) imply that God wants us to meditate, reflect, contemplate, and focus on his Word, day and night. Another comment below noted Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to… pray & meditate.
Blessings – Pierre