In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Dan Harris, the ABC News anchor who discovered the power of meditation after he experienced a panic attack on live national television back in 2004. Dan recalls how his time reporting in war zones and using drugs contributed to his panic disorder and explains the utility of meditation to counter mindlessness and the anxiety that stems from it. He gives us a compelling account of how he overcame his skepticism of Buddhism by way of personal experience and recent scientific studies of meditation’s effects on the brain.
Dan recounts the development of his own practice, including his time as a student of insight teachers Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg and his experience with retreats. He makes the case that setting aside even small segments of time for meditation during the day can have profound effects and continues on to describe how he has since found ways to integrate meditation into his busy schedule and days spent working in the fast-paced environment of ABC studios.
Given his past experiences, Dan explains that part of his current mission is to articulate Buddhist concepts in a way that reaches lay audiences who may be weary of meditation and is highly focused on the implications practice has for our well-being. He guides us through his secular and intellectual understanding of Buddhism, how he thinks about awakening and the self, and shares what motivates him to practice. Finally, Dan and Daniel grapple with the concept of selflessness, and Dan describes some of his hopes and ideas for his next book.
For further discussion on how meditation can help us to navigate the stress and frantic pace of our modern lives, listen to this conversation between Dan Harris and Koshin Paley Ellison at the Wholehearted Book Launch in NYC.