But.... there came a point when I just felt like I was punishing myself by forcing myself to find time to sit and meditate. I kept doing this for a while [pushing myself], and then I finally decided that I just wasn't getting any benefit, and it felt more like a punishment to me. So, I quit meditating. It's been probably more than 15 years since I meditated, aside from yoga practice [which I also quit; yup, call me a quitter all you want!].
Recently, I read Dan Harris' book "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works - A True Story" and LOVED it! Dan Harris, who I never knew about before reading his book, is a news anchorman [since I don't watch TV or news...never heard of him]. He has worked with such luminaries as Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, and others. I found Dan to be very funny, and I especially appreciated his no-nonsense look into the world of "self-help." Having been an afficianado of self-help for a great many years, I, along with Dan, have come across some drivel in my time [drivel to me, anyway], and utter nonsense, as well. Dan interviewed Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and others and found them lacking in substance [which I have, as well]. He also went on a 9 day retreat and his recounting of that experience, which included about 8 hours a day of meditation, was hilarious! I also appreciated the fact that Sharon Saltzberg is still around as is the Insight Meditation center, where Dan also went. A surprising excerpt included the fact that Sam Harris [no relation] and his wife are also meditators [and who recommended the 9 day retreat to Dan].
So.... I began meditating again! I decided to give it a go again, in part because I continue to come across things that I feel really sad about, have a negative reaction to and worry about, and have felt increasingly worried about the state of affairs in our country. I thought that perhaps meditation would help me with my wild/monkey mind, and also help me not be so reactionary to outward events that I have little to no control or say over. I also don't 'beat myself up' if I only find time to meditate for 10 mins, or if I miss a day [which I haven't so far], or things like that.
Dan wrote that he was trying to figure out how to tell people about his meditation practice. Most of the people he interacts with are 'hard-nosed' newspeople types who don't go in for this 'woo woo' stuff, and meditation, for them, was put into that category. He would share with someone that he was meditating and when they asked him why, he would try to find a succinct phrasing of why, and eventually came up with "Because it makes me 10% happier" and that became the title of the book. He was also concerned about 'losing his edge' in the news anchor business, and writes about his questioning meditation practice regarding that issue. He loves his work, and didn't want to lose his job because he lost his 'edge'.
I found the book very enjoyable and humorous, fun reading even if one doesn't decide to start meditating. I also appreciated Dan's skepticism and questioning personality; I had some similar thoughts about the self-help genre that he expressed, and it was refreshing. I highly recommend the book!
You can also watch this video, which is a pretty good summary of the book; it is Dan Harris speaking to an audience about it and his meditation practice.