Imagine having a panic attack: a sudden feeling of terror that can strike without warning, even during sleep, and that can make you feel like you are having a heart attack or going crazy. Now imagine having one on live television with 5+ million people watching. That’s just what happened to Dan Harris, ABC news correspondent, co-anchor and author of 10% Happier: How I tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works.
Harris shared his story, as well as why he believes that meditation will be “the next public health revolution,” during his keynote speech at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015.
Harris is frank about the fact that he didn’t want to meditate and didn’t believe in it, but he learned to recognize his inner narrator – you know, the one that we all hear and that “talks” to us about ourselves, what we did wrong, what happened yesterday, and what will happen in the future. He not only learned that meditation can quiet the inner narrator, but also learned that daily meditation can actually grow the grey matter in the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion while it shrinks the part of the brain associated with stress. It also helps the meditator learn to focus on what is happening in the moment rather than obsessing about the past or the future.
Why would this matter in the workplace? Today’s employees are stressed. According to the American Institute of Stress, “numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. … In New York, Los Angeles, and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is so well acknowledged that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly ….”
Despite knowing this, less than 40 percent of companies are actually talking to their employees about wellness. That might be changing, though. Harris says that the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Army, colleges across the country, and even pre-school classes are weaving meditation into their activities.
Daily meditation is easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere and can quiet the inner narrator who might be picking apart the PowerPoint you just presented. We all could benefit from silencing that voice.