Book Review of Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren, and Carlye Adler

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
Goodreads Rating: 3.86
Series:
Publisher:
Published: 12/26/2017
Page Count: 304
Book URL: GoodReads.com
In this guide to mindfulness and meditation for beginners and experienced meditators alike, Harris and his friend Jeff Warren, a masterful teacher and “Meditation MacGyver,” embark on a cross-country quest to tackle the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that stop people from meditating. They rent a rock-star tour bus (whose previous occupants were Parliament Funkadelic) and travel across eighteen states, talking to scores of would-be meditators—including parents, military cadets, police officers, and even a few celebrities.…
3.8Overall Score
  • Covered Subject
    4.0
  • Cover Art
    3.0
  • Impact
    4.0
  • Organization
    4.0
  • Pacing
    4.0
  • Writing
    4.0

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When I had picked up Dan’s first book, “10% Happier,” I thought that it was going to be somewhat a how-to book on meditation. However that book turned out to be more of a memoir and Dan’s journey into meditation. It also attempts to break down people’s resistance surrounding meditation, but it is not a how-to guide. This follow up book, “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” is the book that I thought “10% Happier” was going to be.

Quick Review

  • This book is loaded with practical and immediately applicable tips and tricks to get you started and keep you going with meditation.
  • The book does include some “woo-woo-ish” concepts, but in the best of ways that are ultimately relatable and understandable. Not just from a theoretic standpoint, but also the understanding of how all of this can be beneficial.
  • I switched to the audiobook about halfway through to help me get through the book more quickly and found a few differences between the ebook and the audiobook, I think mostly for clarity of who is speaking. This seems to be fairly common with non-fiction audiobooks read by the author.

If I had to describe this book in two words: insightful and helpful.

**NO SPOILERS**

In Depth Review

This book is probably the most non-new-age book I’ve read, or heard about on meditation. If you’re looking for a book that approaches meditation from a more scientific, health centered basis, then this is the perfect book for you. It’s packed with lots of reasons to meditate, addresses all the common hurdles to meditation, and gives you a lot of practical advice to get started meditating right away and build a consistent and life-long practice. There are over ten detailed, step-by-step meditations included for you to get meditating right away.

Near the end of the book in chapter seven, Dan describes a meditation group he ran with InsideOUT Writers (IOW) which is a nonprofit organization that works with young people in jail and just out of jail. InsideOUT teaches them to write to express their feelings and the stories that these young people share are truly heartbreaking. It’s a very touching part of the book that also speaks deeply to the power of meditation and community that can be built when meditation or writing, or really any activity, are a shared practice in an open space.

If you are interested in meditation, you will enjoy this book. There are some parts that are a bit dry and therefore drag a little, but it’s all very useful and helpful information. I would recommend this book to anyone getting started in meditation.

Book Look

  • Standard sized hardcover, slightly larger than a paperback.
  • Has a very thick cardboard cover that is solid black with a red foiled print only on the spine. Because I had a library book copy, there is a plastic book covers that libraries use for wear and tear.
  • Standard off-white/cream colored pages with medium texture that makes turning pages easy.
  • The general type is a standard serif font that is a good medium size. There are two different fonts for the parts written by Dan and the parts written by Jeff, making it very easy to differentiate. The text was also altered in such a way that following this on the audiobook version would be easy enough, but the text differentiation was a nice touch.
  • The chapters are divided into nice neat little sections that makes stopping and starting at any point really easy.
  • There are graphs, illustrations and pictures, and some photographs scattered throughout the book, concentrated mostly at the beginning.
  • The ending epilogue is a full sized chapter in itself.

NOTE: Some of the graphs in the book that have supporting text and explanation are not covered in the audiobook. Presumably because it would not make sense without the graph. The ideas are still portrayed, but with different text. There are other small text/content differences I noticed between the book and audiobook when using them in tandem at the end of my reading.

NOTE: I read a hardcover copy of the book that I checked out at my local library (I also own an eBook and audiobook copy).

Audiobook Review

  • Another book that is narrated by the authors, two of the three in this case, Dan Harris and Jeffrey Warren.
  • Both Dan and Jeffrey have American accents and read as themselves.
  • Dan speaks clearly with a moderate pace in his signature on-air voice. Jeffrey speaks at a slower pace, very clearly, succinctly, and calmly.
  • Overall I found the audiobook a really good way to get through the book quicker and enjoyed my half of this read with the audiobook much more than when I was reading the physical copy alone.
  • 08:34:00 in length.

NOTE: After the full chapter epilogue there is a section in the audiobook that is not in the book or eBook versions, and two guided meditations that you can also find on the app (a sitting/laying meditation and a walking one)

NOTE: I started the audiobook halfway through my read, which I checked out at my local library (I also own an eBook and checked out a physical copy from the library).

Favorite Quotes

“Equanimity is the capacity to let your experience be what it is, without trying to fight it and negotiate with it. It’s like an inner smoothness or frictionlessness.”
Jeff Warren

“There’s a classic progression in meditation. First we work on building up concentration: focus on breath, get distracted, come back. Then, once our attention is a little more stable and balanced, we move away from the breath and get curious about the distractions themselves, which are loaded with information about our go-to thought patterns, preoccupations, and triggers. This stuff is extremely useful to explore. It’s like pulling back the curtain on the mind’s hidden dramas.”
Dan Harris

“Meditation is a way to provide that service for yourself, to drag your neuroses out from under their little hiding places in your mind’s backwaters and expose them to the light.
Dan Harris

Of course, there are many people who do not want to do this kind of inner work. They don’t want to face their emotions and deep-seated patterns.”
Dan Harris

People “are afraid to be alone with how they feel. They worry that if they look inside, they will open up a Pandora’s box of potentially paralytic emotions.”
Dan Harris

“Meditation simultaneously puts you in closer touch with your emotions while making you less of their marionette … I think it allows for greater intimacy with the pain and poignancy of life while providing the wherewithal not to drown in it.”
Dan Harris

“…self-compassion can help you withstand daily indignities such as failure, rejection, and embarrassment. People with this attribute have a greater willingness to learn from and correct their perceived weaknesses or mistakes, which boosts resiliency, making them better able to get back into the fray.”
Dan Harris

“Imagine if someone gave you a device and they said, ‘If you use this device, you will be happier and more effective and more compassionate.’ And then the first thing you do is you start hitting yourself over the head with the device.”
Bill Duane

Musical Suggestions

I enjoyed this book while listening to the playlist “Chill Instrumental Beats” on Spotify (by Spotify).

Other books in this series:
10% Happier1

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