How an On-Air Panic Attack Improved My Life

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Before you stop reading, let me point out that I am not a stereotypical meditator. In fact, I'd always had -- and still have, really -- an allergy to all things touchy-feely and New Age-y. As it turns out, though, meditation doesn't require robes, incense, crystals, Cat Stevens or "clearing the mind." It's exercise for your brain. And there's good science to back this up.

Meditation is a tool for taming the voice in your head. You know the voice I'm talking about. It's what has us constantly ruminating on the past or projecting into the future. It prods us to incessantly check our email, lurch over to the fridge when we're not hungry, and lose our temper when it's not in our best interest.

To be clear, meditation won't magically solve all of your problems. I still do dumb things -- just ask my wife -- but meditation is often effective kryptonite against the kind of epic mindlessness that produced my televised panic attack. When friends and colleagues ask (usually with barely hidden skepticism) why I meditate, I often say, "It makes me 10% happier."

This not-insubstantial return on investment has made me something of an unlikely evangelist for meditation. Self-help gurus are constantly telling us that we can get anything we want through the "power of positive thinking." This is an unrealistic and potentially damaging message, I think. By contrast, meditation is a doable, realistic, scientifically researched way to get significantly happier, calmer, and nicer. If meditation could be stripped of the syrupy, saccharine language with which it's too often presented, it might be appealing to millions of smart, skeptical people who may never otherwise consider it. So I've written a book, called "10% Happier," in which I attempt to do just that. It comes out in March.

Am I worried about what kind of reaction people will have to my getting personal in this way? Absolutely.

At the very least, it'll be a good test of my meditation practice.

For more information on Dan's book, click here: http://tinyurl.com/m4vk88n

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