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Mindful : August 2015
xDon’t be “Super Profound Dude” Meditation has unlocked insights into the nature of being, for me, what it means to be totally in and of the moment. It has revealed my inner essence and the truth of the way things are, as they are, without the baggage of what isn’t or what the lesser self wants it to be. You just come to know what it means to be one with all things in the eternal present moment. You know what I mean? Now we have a situation where we have a lot of Type A people, skeptical, non-traditional meditators, who probably outnumber the tradi- tional meditators. We’ve got all this excitement in the corporate world, the scientific world, and the medical community about meditation, and they’re talking about it in the way Type A people talk: heatedly, excitedly, and without leaving a lot of room for listening. Unfortunately, it doesn’t effectively communicate one of the things that should be happening when you start to meditate, which is that you become more open. BB: What was so off-putting for you about those styles—the oracular and the emotive? DH: They’re clichés—and they give too many people an easy out to just say, “ Well, I’m not going to do mental exercise because only weird people do it.” BB: If somebody is over-emoting or making distant highfalutin pronouncements, they’re not really talking to you any way. They’re supposedly presenting something authentic, but clearly if you’re getting pissed off and don’t want to hear it anymore, it’s not effective. DH: While I’ve made a lot of hay out of teasing people who teach in those ways, it has to be said that it has been very successful for a lot of people, either people who were raised in the Age of Aquarius and like that kind of talk, or people who are just naturally spirituality-minded. It appeals to them. It’s really important to also consider that a lot of people are genuinely hurt- ing or are recovering from trauma of some kind and they relate well to a soft and emotive style. BB: It can be soothing. It conveys that medi- tation is going to make you feel better about yourself, and ultimately that is true. On the other hand, the wise master style speaks to the fact that we’re all starved for insight. The weighty message can speak to the need to hear something that cuts through the noise and sales- manship we’re bombarded with. It may sound cheesy to say, “ You need to rest in the moment right where you are,” but it happens to be true. DH: When I first started talking about medita- tion, I didn’t have the language yet to explain it in a way that made it appealing, so my initial efforts were ham-handed and largely unsuc- cessful. You discover something that’s useful for you. You develop a sort of evangelical zeal and you want to share it. But you lose sight of the fact that sharing it with people—especially when it’s unsolicited—can be extremely grating. It took many years to figure out how I could explain this elusive thing to people in a way that would make them think, “Okay, yes, maybe now I’d be willing to sit down and close my eyes for several minutes and do this thing that I always thought was associated with the ‘Love Guru’ or whatever.” I would say too much and go on and on about how it was exercise for the brain and blah, blah, blah, but I didn’t listen much. BB: It sounds like you were lining up your argu- ments. DH: Yes, I was, except I didn’t have them well packaged. But my arg ument started to get a lot better when I began focusing on the science and the notion of the constant voice in the head, because that is so universally comprehensible. The inner-narrator, people get that. BB: When you say it’s exercise for your brain, you’re making an argument by analogy. When you talk about the voice in your head, you’re asking people to reflect on their experience. DH: Exactly. However, meditation is so context specific, that if it emerges in a quick conversa- tion with a corporate executive on an airplane, I might just offhandedly talk about it as exer- cise for the brain. That’s a good way to convey that it’s not weird and end the discussion there. To see Mindful Direct’s exclusive video interview with Dan Harris, go to mindful.org/ danharris 56 mindful August 2015 the mindful dialogue