— -- In a live show, anything can happen. But Tom Bergeron trusts he can handle it because he has been practicing meditation for decades.
The host of ABC’s hit dancing competition show “Dancing With the Stars,” which kicked off its 25th season this week, said he has been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for over 35 years -- TM is a form of mantra meditation where the practitioner says mantras, or a silent word or sound, repeatedly as a way to focus and quiet down thoughts.
Being a longtime meditator, he said, has been key in keeping his cool and "respond appropriately" during a live show in front of a panel of judges, contestants and a studio audience.
“I trust that because of the practice, because of the investment of time and mental energy into being present, that I’m going ... to somehow know how to roll with whatever happens,” Bergeron, 62, told ABC's Dan Harris during an interview for his podcast, "10% Happier." “Be it somebody passing out, as happened a few years ago, or a judge going a little crazy or just an awkward moment that needs to be finessed to move us forward in the show.”
He will even meditate in his dressing room before “Dancing With the Stars” tapings.
"The staff knows now, 'If we knock and he doesn't answer he's probably ... he's meditating,'" he said.
Over the course of his career, Bergeron has hosted several popular shows, including “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Hollywood Squares.” His book, “I’m Hosting as Fast as I Can: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood,” details his meditation practice with career anecdotes sprinkled throughout -- in addition to being a beloved TV host, he had a one-man improv show and was a practicing mime for a time.
But despite his seemingly upbeat and energetic hosting style, Bergeron said he has dealt with managing a bad temper for decades.
“There were a few apartment walls in my single days that had holes in the sheet rock that I had punched through,” he said. "Apparently, just putting a poster over it when you leave the apartment does not get you your security deposit back."
Bergeron said there was an unsettling moment when he and his wife, Lois Bergeron, were dating that convinced him to take a hard look at how he was handling his anger.
“The temper thing was always directed at inanimate objects or myself,” he said. “But there was one time we were out and then something happened and I just put my fist into the door of the car.... And she wisely said, ‘If we’re going to have a relationship, that has to stop.’”
The next day, Bergeron said, he signed up for a TM course, and has used the practice ever since to calm his racing thoughts and recognize when he needed to check his ego.
“It does make you happier. It does make you better able to assess things as they’re happening so as to not fly off the handle. I have not damaged any sheet rock in 35 years, I’m proud to say,” Bergeron joked. “It’s the belief that I can be the master of how I react to any situation. It’s not the situation that I should blame. Ultimately, if things go off the rails, it’s how I reacted to it.”