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How Meditation Can Make You Happier and Change Your Life

From energy healers to holistic retreats, Rebecca Jarvis and Dan Harris discuss the biz of meditation.
3:00 | 04/03/14

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Transcript for How Meditation Can Make You Happier and Change Your Life
Hello welcome to this special edition of real thing is I'm Rebecca Jarvis here in New York City we have a special show today last month by ABC news colleague Dan Harris. Released his book 10% happier it is now a best seller. And it's rocketed to the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list. In 10% -- your -- looks at how meditation. Has helped change his life and for me one of the most interesting parts of his book. It's how meditation has now become a big business and in fact it's being embraced by some of the world's biggest companies as they look to boost their bottom line. Dan who you probably know for Nightline is -- co anchor and co host today here on real busy here's our agenda we do this every show I had you thank you for being with us -- analog -- near especially edition today is the digital age making your brain a disaster find out how to become happier and if you can -- your energy. Can you create what you want. We -- energy -- here who will tell you just how that works. And main street is coming around to meditation from gyms offering classes to holistic rejuvenation retreats. You may have seen -- coverage on that he's gonna talk to someone who's doing it we want to get you started right now. And Dan. Here's the thing -- read in the book he loved the book actually -- an and I -- talking to a number of my ABC news colleagues here is well. Who where saying I've read the book and it's making more centered it's just making me more focused on living the moment. You know I mean I think that it's one thing to tell yourself. It's a great -- tell you that they're gonna try to break the habit of walking around in in this sort of daydream of anticipation about the future and memory of the past but my pitch for meditation is. It's the daily dose of exercise that makes that. A more concrete hat and I'm island that you and you -- -- five -- today you don't need to be sitting cross like it for thirty minutes increase. She makes it more accessible when -- have a live like this and it's fairly interesting that so many companies and this is a big party your book. Yet so much and corporate America has now embracing this as well and seeing the benefit for their employees it's. I mean that the corporate embrace of something that we always thought was only for. Rogue gurus and unlike -- is -- we'll talk about and massive cultural shift but I -- -- Google Twitter. -- now. -- target I sat in on on and meeting at target of a weekly meeting of quote unquote meditating merchants. And and General Mills these which -- -- titans of industry here. Who are now embracing this ancient practice which is super super -- in. The reason why they're doing it is it makes you more focused and less yanked around by her emotions -- you can make calmer clear decisions. Which it and it's it's really interesting that the five minutes a day point that you made because so much of corporate America and today in the digital age everybody's online you know when their -- because they're tweeting or -- on FaceBook and if they're not -- they're not president there's this fear of oh my goodness I'm falling behind I'm running behind the pack. That's a phone -- -- and no fear of missing out right and yeah we live in this age it's been called the info blitzkrieg or. -- activity. And it does these devices do make us. Can be you know way to make us more productive but it also can be way to make yourself more miserable -- you need. And I've learned some things from my friends in the corporate world about how to manage this -- or. Reasonable way I don't always succeed. You up and which is nice to hear him because -- especially you talk in the book about your very first time a medication at. And it didn't go doubt as some like it a holistic. Spiritual experience it was more -- Will people need to know is that you're not gonna float off into some sort of cosmic glue the point is not too. Reach serenity now or two. Clear your mind which -- one of the huge misconceptions you're not a clear mind ever. What you're doing is creating eight different relationship to the clamor the mental noise that is your life. This voicing your head that is constantly judging wanting not wanting casting -- into the future remembering the past. This voice which he leads you to do things like putting your hand in the -- you're not hungry checking your email when your -- trying to talk to you losing your temper and regretting it later. You can learn to -- -- less seriously and that's -- meditation does and so when you sit and meditate -- having a direct confrontation with this crazy voice. And it's hard but so is going to the -- if you're. -- -- eight and getting to midget is I think right -- in this state was a big process for you. The book is full of examples of your skepticism going in and meeting different people. And I -- well why -- -- talk about the -- -- retreat. -- -- So not only I'm out of really reluctant to meditate I mean I am when I was. Five my parents that need to into a children's yoga I -- at -- yes and it's horrible it's the teacher. Did not like my jeans and -- you maybe take them up and do. -- yoga exercises and a -- what he's part of all the other little kids and so from that day forward I hated anything having to do with the new age or hippies or anything like that so. I was not base your typical imitator but when I heard about the science that says akin. -- -- -- key parts of your brain lower blood pressure boost your immune system. -- and I saw and I saw that there are people like considered. Quote unquote normal who were doing it I decided to -- to try. And I got so far -- with that I ended up going on a ten day silent meditation retreat. Which. Started as the most. Miserable. Annoying experience of my life and then it's -- on day five I had that. Shift where I was I I would say it was -- 36 hours of elation elation -- yet he really was you know it what happens is. This is this whole mental exercises designed to. Drag you kicking and screaming into what's happening right now as well as the gurus say the present moment which have been -- -- knowing term but. When you are actually. Focused on what you were doing in sports the -- being in the zone -- that is often accompanied by a massive blast of serotonin. And if you are working on being in the zone for hours at a time. Right doing this very knowing work of meditating and trying to force yourself into what's happening right now being focused on -- in -- -- way. That can make you extremely happy. And there's a lot of science to back that. Who who have all the executives who are practicing -- who surprised at the maps. -- to tell you who taught me the most from it for me Janice murder Rondo who is. A executive was an executive at General Mills and this is. You look at her you think I'm a non obvious they attended this is it she's a hard charging. Corporate attorney. Whip Smart. And was having not the type of person you ever think would let go away and retreating wrap herself in seaweed and put cucumbers -- -- but she. Found -- to be extremely useful and was able to spread -- fire -- through the executive ranks and General Mills and I walked away from my time with her with -- for so definitely aspire to do more. And also believing that this thing is who going to be the next big public health revolution if she can do it and a -- -- -- all these real practical tips. The book is 10% happier -- sticking around is echoing her win another -- I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on this one because our next guest. Teaches people how to overcome obstacles and transform the negative situations in their life. It's a positive belief systems that you can create what you want in your life whether it is career. Love or money. And she's joining us now it is -- -- a saint James she is an energy healer. And a success career coach she's also the author of -- shift let you let go and live your dream Alina -- up. Welcome to myself here will these wonderful people I'm so excited. I. And our our executive producer -- candles. Was able to do this with you was able to take whatever your sessions how does this work. Well you know it's interesting McCann is saying and -- -- -- -- -- at 57 now 66. And -- nine where it. Up there obviously are getting -- -- but anyway the thing is that there's four bodies I talk about in the book. The physical emotional mental and spiritual bodies. And it's also about intensive medication because I've been doing this for like 3540 years and god only knows how many -- I started out show business career had to lead hand Amsterdam. Rock band in the hope I win. And his spiritual journeys in the Amazon in the you know southern India to learn all this stuff when I realized. Is that in terms of meditating because I did the -- that meditation and 6:30 in the morning -- -- night hot. As I thought between when -- become enlightened -- after -- got rejected it would be okay. And then I got out to the rest the world that I realized I got rejected it wasn't OK we think. So I went into the emotional body and when you start to release -- emotional body and then you clear acrylic clear shift create. He cleared the space. And then you start to imagine in meditation sect to focus on whatever it is -- A flower heart. And then you get into that higher spiritual consciousness and then starts you intend what she wants create as if -- -- -- happens. And that's like a magical miracle that happens -- create magic -- -- life so that's how I had twins at 57. And that's what light winds at 57 -- doing this if yes what these what are the doctors say. Well I only -- on the minds of people that gave me yes. That's that only doctors who say yes that said you know if anybody could do it lead after looking at your stats all your men. You can do it. And then I'd -- eastern and western medicine together. -- meditated -- cleared myself I went all over the world to work which comments so that could be the best channel for these children. And they came to -- and it was a wonderful fabulous experience and it continues to be so. But in terms of really meditating and getting all your bodies together and bringing in the spiritual energy so it actually vibrates in your physical selves. That's the key and that's final -- shocked Chris. Moving into the -- systems and all the colors it's good -- when a clearer map and start to vibrate with your higher spiritual self Dan. So the -- and I approached its very different places and I clearly a wonderful human being who's helping a lot of people but IA we have to hear -- -- -- collection of things that I would and do that spent a lot of energy trying to avoid their -- a little circles. You need -- none of this if you want to meditate you UK's simple brain exercise. The you can do is secular it will work with whatever your belief system is right now or if you have no belief whatsoever. So oh lead and a lot of people in involved in meditation talk about it. In ways that I think leave people out of the conversation. People like me who wore cynics or raising the age of irony and don't want to hear about -- That you don't. I think there are a lot of people who do and Anna -- and they're very they're very well served by -- But there are a lot of people who don't want crystals or finger cymbals and want in fact just a simple thing they can do. To change their brain in their mind and that's what I think we need in order to push this further -- the -- Aaliyah has actually brought some of this into the street or not is now -- said he put out this tonight and every time you go to yoga class in New York City this is part of everything we're I don't. And I don't everywhere. -- yeah laughter yoga class -- York city is not the main street. We need to be putting this into basic training for the Marines and the army which is going to happen because of the sides or could very well happen because of the -- it should be used in corporate executives -- should be used in -- groups and be at Akron Ohio issue be used in -- in schools all over the country and for a lot of people especially people who have their own religious views. Particularly Christians they're not going to want this done so we need to talk about in a way that includes a larger group that is not to say that a -- isn't helping a lot of people have. Kansas is definitely -- into different subjects. Because -- with CEOs to his 1993. When many Turco had just like started with a Erica started equinox. And we got together and I -- to start the wellness center. 1993. I was doing shopper work. In equinox. If there was something -- not. Totally pragmatic and secondly. I don't how hard on to have David -- I can't tell you my clientele is because it's a secret from him but it's extraordinary people are coming to me and they sit on a bed when they come into my studio the big huge -- and they look at -- in the guys have got to do we have videos and yeah. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- okay. And they have their suit and they have very -- -- that -- the tie and just shell and now going through this experience and you'll be shocked and surprised I had some time. How they move in now -- mainstream America and this -- -- But I'm tugging at the people that are gonna listen to me that are ready to going to be emotional body in the physical body. And you can do very simple breathing exercises. What you -- you bring in your spiritual energy god. -- your understanding that everybody is happy to -- you don't have to use this you don't even have to read my so I'm curious you have your book yet recessions. This is big business what -- -- you make it up as well the fact of the matter is I'm dedicated. To this every day in my life. I'm dedicated to people reaching and -- the fact that they -- -- to Carmen is complete. You have to work -- work sometimes from 9 o'clock in the morning. -- 8:9 o'clock at night. Number single parent selling its create -- certain -- -- time but it also allows me put my children's school. Until with a certain lifestyle. We're not going off to Barbara -- -- vacations and that -- But you know it's and even that flow and energy exchange but it's helping you pay the bills and you believe -- I bottle works the fact of the matter is I would be out of business if it didn't work and in doing this for 35 years. I think that -- a symbol of what this cap 66 years old I have twins. Rocket and growing at 5 o'clock in the morning I don't speak -- pocket night. They're both different schools people that have children -- your city know what that is like you know the nightmare getting them here. You know PTA this and that whenever I'm in it and with it so I can help people with anything fertility situations. Which I really really saying we believe. Really appreciate you coming in -- -- saint James thank you so much for joining us. Also congratulations. Two twins -- -- that Leon and I. There -- and best wishes to that it was well -- and I'm looking for sandy -- our producer got strike outlook report coming -- right as well one of these days -- looking -- -- theater and by the way. Anyone who watched as -- as we'll see that as well what's like what they get a chance to get back at -- -- -- -- much. It's -- again because you know you came into all of this very skeptical yet I'm -- -- -- -- would have major UI I'm assuming here but something like this who would have made you feel a little skeptical if the very first thing that use was that the crystal for example. Yeah and I in my view on this is when I see things like crystals and finger cymbals -- run for the hills I mean that's that's just me. That doesn't mean it doesn't work for some people I don't I don't think it should be outlawed. But I don't. I think you as I said before it leaves a lot of people out of the conversation. Who want a little bit of humor who don't wanna have -- from bank over them who want something that has this you know really part science to it and that's where I come -- right and by the way to sell them on the money front. I I do think it's -- to pay teachers there's no question but. Meditation is free and portable there's nothing to join there's no special outfit to Wear nothing to believe in first day and I would just. Think carefully before you spend your letter because I -- you can learn for free and you don't have to pay them money that isn't to say that people aren't getting a lot -- -- but. This should not be something that you're spending tons of money -- -- not some expensive self help. Seminar. Certainly and I know how much you believe in it and there's a very interesting story did recently on. Another part of all of us. Well we yes a few years ago I traveled to the Omega institute which is an upstate new York and I interviewed a Buddhist -- -- the -- and the children. -- one of the most notable Buddhist meditation teachers in the world. And -- found that a mega it was an interest in retreat center -- people from all over the world come to learn and relax it's definitely not your typical get -- where you. Party and over -- and you need a vacation from the vacation instead there are lots of speakers and ballistic teachers were there people. Come to teach you how to live a more fulfilling life and we have a guest from -- right now. -- -- don't PLC whose chief external affairs officer. -- and our relationship it's great to be here. So. How what Wendy's -- mega -- in what is your stated -- It was founded in 1977 -- been around about 37 years and it was. Begun by a small group of people who wanted. Sort of the way you've been describing access. Easy access to some of the wisdom traditions and teachings and it grew very very quickly -- a nonprofit organization so. Over the course of several years it went from. A few hundred people to thousands of 101000 to 20000 now we see about -- 5000 people every year who are these people. They are people just like us there from all walks -- life. They come to -- for reasons big and small some you know some of the stuff that you've talked about what drove you to look for meditation people can. Be in their own kind of crisis looking for something looking for ways to manage stress to slowed down. But also people come because. -- -- learn something as as grownups living and a hyper specialized. World we often don't get a chance to dabble in things that make us feel good that help us learn and grow. Creativity arts yoga. Leadership training. Learning about the ecology all all kinds of and do you find that it's a successful business -- -- he did you thought about replicating and elsewhere. People ask us to replicate it actually often. And it's a nonprofit organization it's a pretty big business is as non profits go. At the 25 million dollar business and as I said we -- 23000. People every year. But it's pretty special and so. When when we're asked -- can we replicate can we franchise. Yeah control wants it and we want to maintain what's really special about it. Right exactly as soon as Easter franchising any idea you have to believe in the other people were gonna carry that idea to another place and you know capital out of control that will also technology's really letting us expand in new ways so while people can come to campus. Our website I think we're seeing about two million people now. For traffic and you can come. -- come to our website at. -- a five minute meditation and you can read an article we -- increasingly online learning opportunities. So you can study with -- children whose you know one of the world's best. Buddhist teachers but if you can't get to make -- you can just go onto our website and sign on -- class -- so that's that's kind of our current. Thinking about expanding. -- and and decided it's changing a couple of interesting ways one where we're seeing a growth and when what this the academics called nuns people and oh and yes people who. Don't subscribe to any specific religion but our interest in spirituality that population is growing. And where you're -- meditation specifically making it into the mainstream and and a bit more significant way are you seeing a change. In your clientele. What we see is people feeling more and more hungry for something they want to chill out they don't know how to cope with all the technology. And I think in our consumer driven culture people are really starting to. Asked the big meaning question the big meaning and purpose question what missile this rat race right there any -- and what gifts do I haven't how to like give them and how to light. -- -- line up. What I love to do what I'm good at doing what the world -- and -- I make enough money to support my family and contribute to my community. That's really what people come tell -- support in others -- the -- the meeting not mean people are looking for. Any life and they're looking for it in the multitudes of ways. And this is one of the ways that -- -- -- exactly comical scene thanks so much for joining us we appreciate it thank him. You know I'm really interested dad from your standpoint with 10% happier it has been so successful. At your recycle their last night at East Coast on which look I'm sure what I can't wait to CNN Berkeley was on -- -- at that moment in -- but up your forgiving. Does it surprise you the number of people from multitudes of -- walks of life who are interested in this. Get -- I think there is a market now. For people want to hear about this stuff but not in the way in which our guests have talked about today which again there's nothing wrong with talking about it in in. In the way in which it's -- Being discussed for years which is -- a bit soft you can kind of hear pan flute in the background -- -- I think that's fine I think that really serves a lot of people. But it does as I keep saying leave people out and I think you were ready for discussion about happiness is a bit more realistic. I'm not promising that I can solve all of your problems through the power of meditation that's not gonna happen anybody who tells you that is possible is lying to you. So I think talking about things in a realistic way and a tongue in cheek way with. 10% happier which is a good return on investment but obviously consider it an intimate you can't wanna buy happiness that way I think people are want to hear about this and a new way. And I appreciate. You care about -- so much that's where you're coming for up at the end of the day you care about it you Wear a skeptic and it has helped you played your life better. My whole driving. You know I I do have a day job that I care about very much of death when -- wanting focus on the more in my day job it after when the book thing dies down but might driving purpose here is to. Tell people that if -- can work for -- skeptical guy if you work for them to and it can mix with your life whatever your faith is it doesn't doesn't require more than five minutes today -- a lot of science that says it will join the pantheon of no -- it's like brushing your teeth going to the -- and taking the -- -- which. Prescribe because. Again the science is there and suggests it can do everything for. And Harris author 10% happier thank you so much for joining us that real as it was fun thank you wouldn't it -- -- dam on the weekend you may show up. And also on Nightline as an acre and he's Oliver ABC news and he'll be back more on ABC news what's -- whole book to get is yes obviously you think via. They gave so much for joining us up real -- we wanna hear from you does meditation. Making here -- feel happier Twitter is that real this. Until next time this is Rebecca Jarvis from New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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