10% Happier Meditation App Is 100% Satisfying

Just Meditate Screen

10% Happier iPhone App

The 10% Happier iPhone app has always had a strong foundation in sharing meditation knowledge and providing insightful guided meditations. With its latest new update, it provides so much more.

Through its humorous Q & A interview style, Dan Harris asks the questions and meditation teachers share their insights, personal experiences, and wisdom. Even though it has been a year, that successful approach hasn’t changed since when I wrote Meditating on Meditation Mobile Apps. To this day, Dan Harris and Joseph Goldstein continue to enlighten people as they did a year ago. With the updates to the app over the last year, there are now seven courses with three additional instructors.

Using each of their decades of experience, the instructors in the courses share specific areas of expertise. Sharon Salzberg shares Lovingkindness and what to do with distractions. Dr. Judson Brewer shares mindfulness around eating. Oren J. Sofer focuses on mindful communication. Joseph teaches the fundamentals, focus techniques, open awareness meditation, and answers practical questions every meditator has had at one point or another. All of them share personal stories and have caused me to laugh or have moved me deeply.

All of this course material is excellent for the beginner, satisfying for the experienced meditator, and yet entertaining due to Dan’s experience as a “skeptical newsman” using the Q & A format.

With the latest update, there’s even more than just the courses! The team behind the 10% Happier app has solved the riddles of “what do I do after finishing all the courses?” and “How do I integrate what I learned into facing my day to day challenges and aspirations?” In addition to the “Courses” section, there is a “Just Meditate” section which contains new content grouped in three sections along with an additional teacher, Alexis Santos.

With the idea of integrating mindfulness into your life, the three sections are titled as “Lightly Guided”, “On The Go”, and “Exploring.. (Stress, Self Judgement, and so on).” Since the update has come out just days ago, I have not yet checked out every single new meditation out of the 21 new ones that are available. However, I have marked “Lovingkindness + Walking”, “Self Judgement” and “Open Awareness” as favorites already. They did a great job in making it easy to add and remove favorites.

In fact, I think the 10% Happier meditation app should win an award overall. It’s a great example of an app that has gotten so many things right. The deference to content, its sharp look, proper use of user interface components and the overall app organization is just fantastic. As the app has grown, it has even avoided inserting the controversial hamburger menu. As an iPhone software developer at CARFAX that works on the CARFAX – Find Used Cars for Sale iPhone app, I can tell you that it’s not easy to avoid having the hamburger menu in a mobile app. Although admittedly, sometimes it might be the right thing to do.

To sum up, 10% Happier was already a wonderful app rich in instructive yet humorous meditation content. It began its life with a solid foundation and focused purpose. They’ve added to that foundation a rich “Just Meditate” section that’s fun to explore and will serve a person throughout the day. I encourage you to check out the app yourself and enjoy the experience.

Seeking Inner Peace

You’re in a plane. There has been an accident and suddenly you and a loved one can’t breathe. The oxygen masks drop down in front of both of your faces. What was it that the flight attendant said? Oh! Put my own oxygen mask on first. Now you can help your loved one with a clear mind.

That’s one example where having a clear mind is a great foundation that supports you and those around you. Even when people sometimes do things that seem unwise, unhelpful, and potentially manipulative, you can choose to respond in a skillful way as opposed to reacting and then later regretting. In other words, what I do with relationships and stormy situations is that I first support my inner stability then I interact or choose to not interact as seems wise.

Recently, I got this concept from Andy Puddicombe of Headspace: There’s a storm outside and you’re inside a house looking at the storm outside through the window. If you can stabilize yourself internally, the violent storm of humanity that normally swallows you up is on the other side of the window.

So, that sounds good. Let’s seek peace within ourselves and have a foundation of balance with which to interact with others.

Seek Inner Peace:

How to do that? How to have inner peace and be balanced?

Some suggest jogging, watching a movie, or some other external activity. These can be great suggestions for some people some of the time. However, Andy of Headspace shares a good point in one of his meditation recordings: you don’t always have the opportunity to jog, but you always have your breath. Meditation is always available.

Mindful Meditation

So, is practicing meditation complex? It doesn’t have to be. Meditation can be as straight forward as focusing on your breath. See the 9 steps listed here under the section titled “Meditation Instructions” in How to Meditate. You don’t even need anything special and trying it out alone is certainly doable.

As briefly covered in “When and Why Did I Start Meditating?“, I was driven decades ago by my quest for excellence in all things including the mind. I meditated alone for years. However, having guidance with meditation can make a huge difference, save you from some confusion down the road, and enrich your meditation journey.

Luckily, there are resources out there. Two iPhone apps I use are the Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by 10% Happier and Headspace. I also listen to the 10% Happier with Dan Harris podcast which is excellent. As covered in Meditating on Meditation Mobile Apps, I suggest starting with the iPhone app Meditation for Skeptics by 10% Happier if you can. Otherwise, I see that you can access the 10% Happier course material on the web. Alternatively, Headspace supports iPhone, Android and desktop.

Back to Basics

Beyond learning meditation, living in inner peace is also based on eating well, sleeping long enough, and exercise. None of this has to be perfect, but it has to be good enough most of the time.

If you value having a balanced mind, support it through meditation, and cover all the basics of healthy living, you will land on the spectrum of inner peace that has been explored for thousands of years. I wish you peace and hope you enjoy the adventure!

Meow Mix Mantra

In my life, one of the meditation related challenges has been helping my son meditate. More specifically, helping him make meditation part of his daily routine.

We came up with the Mindful Minecraft Meditation plan together. That worked great for awhile. We’ve meditated together. He understands and has felt the benefits.

We’re even still making discoveries together. Here’s one. When he was really wound up last time, hugging him and having him focus on our slow and steady breathing helped him feel calm. It’s a technique similar to focusing on a stuffed animal as described in the video in Meditation Yields a Better Brain. In regards to focus and happiness, he has discovered a Meow Mix Mantra.

Coming at you with a disco ball and cats dancing, this remix of the old Meow Mix commercial is funny and hypnotic. With its cat theme, up-beat music, and occasional lasers coming from a cat’s eyes, the Meow Mix song [10 hours] YouTube video is something he has really latched on to.  Unless you suffer from photosensitive epilepsy, you will want to play it to fully understand [warning: lots of flashing and scene changes]:

As a family, we agreed to not play it at the dinner table. However, that brings up a challenge that has not been figured out quite yet with any of his meditative practices, schedule.

Due to school and what not, kids schedules are pretty full. When not using his small allotment of iPad time, he prefers to play with toys over meditating.

I feel certain that if we used something that provided tangible feedback such as the “brain sensing headband” called Muse, the idea of meditating would be even more attractive. With the cost being in the triple digits, that’s not a gamble we want to take though.

After a family discussion, our kid decided to not meditate at this time. That of course is fine. It is a decision that many adults make. Was it because he felt something else was threatened on the schedule though?

Regardless, he is sold on the Meow Mix Mantra and it’s good enough for him meow (now). May you find your happiness too.

“Good” Meditation Growth Then Tears Flowed

I have been using the iPhone app Meditation for Skeptics by 10% Happier for some time now. As said in earlier posts like 10% Happier App is Growing, the app has answered questions I’ve had for a long time, brought different perspectives to my meditation practice, and has given me insightful conversations with real-live meditation coaches.

Recently, something special happened.

After finishing a 20 minute meditation, I did the last two sessions of the 10% Happier app with Sharon Salzburg. I’ve done them before, but decided to revisit them.

After I completed the two sessions, I felt an urge to tell Sharon she did a good job. I thought: Why not? She earned it! It would also exercise my kindness mental muscle. So, I started writing a quick Twitter tweet saying she did “good” and then changed it to “great”. Great is better than good, right?

Sharon Salzberg. As you have heard many times I'm sure, you did great with your role in the 10% happier app.

Great Job Tweet

Why in the world did the word “good” still feel like higher praise than “great”? What’s going on? Then, the answer hit me. So, I shared my moment of “ah ha!”

This just helped me realize that when a grandfather told me "I did good" he meant it on two levels. Good for others too.

Why Grandpa Said “Good”

Time to share what I truly felt. She did well and it was a wonderful gift for all.

So, you did good.

Sharon Did Good Tweet

Boom! Feelings of gratitude, missing grandpa, and love washed through me. Tears flowed. It wasn’t sadness, but just “wow!” What to do?

Fortunately, I knew what to do. In my experience and from what I have learned from others on this path, it’s best to let the feelings flow through you. Let the tears stream down the face and to breathe deep. If such an experience is new to you, you may feel silly when it hits you. However, take comfort in that this is all normal and healthy.

This is a natural breakthrough. Sometimes such experiences can be interpreted as unsettling, embarrassing, or even scary.

I suggest comparing these experiences with those experienced with meditation. One obvious source is the 10% Happier app made by Dan Harris and others. Other local sources may serve you as well. Good luck on your journey and be well!

Fire! Wife, Apple Watch, and Meditation are Heroes

Ring! Ring! There goes my Apple Watch. The iPhone is in another room and my hands are dirty-dishes-gross. “That’s weird and annoying”, I think reflexively to myself. My wife is calling but she just left.

With the final ring sounding, I quickly do the right thing regardless of my thoughts. I rinse off a pinky finger and answer the call on my Apple Watch with it. I hear her Apple Watch’ed voice say loudly “Get a trashcan full of water and …. <something about a bin>.” What’d she say? After quickly rinsing off my hands, I grab a trashcan, yank the trash out, and mutter about needing caffeine while filling it up with water.

Next, I’m outside. Hmm! Lots of smoke is coming from the trash bin area. Uh oh… A quick emotion check reveals slight concern and the thought that I better get out there soon and see what’s up. I’m slightly surprised about how matter-of-fact my mind feels.

Keeping a clear mind is a credit to the meditation training I’ve done over my life and most recently received from my two favorite meditation apps. At some point, I run toward the smoke and check out the situation. Oh! This fire could spread quickly!

My wife had emptied the wastebasket full of water and tells me to get the fire extinguisher. “Good thinking”, I reflect while running back. I dug it out from the back of the closet, run it out to her, and she puts the fire out while I am running back for more water. Success!

A photo of the inside trash bin area that caught fire.

Where the Fire Started Inside the Bin Area

Just then, the maintenance person shows up that my wife had called. Good. He can do any needed follow up with whomever.

Fire scorched trash bin area fence

Fire Scorched Fence Outside of the Bin Area

Let’s recap. The trash bin area is completely surrounded by a dry timber fence. If I hadn’t been wearing my Apple Watch, had my meditation training, and/or my hero wife hadn’t seen the fire, it might have gone completely up in flames. As my wise wife said, who knows if a floating fire ember would have started another fire on a nearby home?

As far as who the hero is that kept people and property safe, the credit goes to my wife.

This is also a moment of gratefulness. I am grateful for my wife’s levelheadedness. I’m also thankful to Apple for their innovation and specifically my Apple Watch. Finally, I feel lucky to have experienced first hand the fruit of all of my meditation training which kept the whole event in perspective and kept me from overreacting.

May you also be as blessed as me in such times!

Guilt and the Ego Trip

Listening to Joseph Goldstein’s Dharma Talks, I found something interesting in relation to guilt. Feelings can be powerful tools for learning. However, guilt can be something that kids and adults get hung up on.

In response to doing something stupid or not nice, I know a young loved one who likes to say “I’m bad.” In his own way, Joseph points out that a person can sometimes get hung up on the story of being bad as opposed to learning from the experience and then moving on.

14:12-ish into his “2015-11-18 Q & A” Dharma Talks, he talks about how we often “justify guilt” in a way that’s not useful. He also points out a technique of “wagging the finger at [guilt]” at 15:07. In other words, he points out that we can notice this unhelpful guilt. It can be identified. We can then change it into “a feeling of wise remorse”, take responsibility and do all of this with understanding.

How to share this concept with a child? My initial thought is to do it with a picture.


Image from BK at https://flic.kr/p/p3yhro

Good luck with your exploration of how to internalize this idea and share this concept with both the young and old.

10% Happier App Is Growing

The 10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics app, which I originally covered in Meditating on Meditation Mobile Apps, has been growing by leaps and bounds in both value and content.

In the app, Dan Harris continues to ask in-depth and practical questions. However, now there is even more than one meditation expert giving answers. Originally, it was just Joseph Goldstein. He’s a fantastic, wise, and wonderful person to listen to. Now it gets even better with more teachers entering the scene.

The idea is that each meditation teacher will share valuable insights in their own area of specialization. Here’s an example. In the “10% Nicer” section in day 2, Sharon Salzberg and Dan Harris discuss “the why” of meditating on loving-kindness. In other words, why one would start and keep doing the loving-kindness meditation. Together, Dan and Sharon do a great job emphasizing the value in a person’s own personal experience yet also highlighting the importance that science brings. In his own funny way, Dan points out that meditating on loving-kindness makes you nicer and less of an a-hole.

The video interviews are funny. I cannot emphasize this enough. The comical and frank video interviews between Dan Harris and the meditation teachers have been wonderful. The followup guided meditation recordings have been instructive and highly useful. It’s through these you learn by actually experiencing meditation.

Finally, there is the coach. From my own experience, there is no substitute for having a coach that you can send SMS messages to. Having first started meditating decades ago, I have some experience which seems beyond introductory. Yet, I am amazed at some of the new things I have learned and received clarity on.

To learn more, you might want to listen to the OneMind Meditation podcast titled “How To Be 10% Happier with Bestselling Author Dan Harris.” It does a great job covering the journey of the book author which eventually led to the creation of the 10% Happier app. During the recording, credit goes to Dan Harris for pointing out that the company, Change Collective, which built the app is made up of fantastic people. From my personal interactions with them, I would have to agree.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date, you can follow them on twitter at 10% Happier.

If you become hooked like me, please pay it forward and let others know about it. Just imagine if the world was 10% happier or 10% more at ease and loving.

When and Why Did I Start Meditating?

Why does anyone do what they do? Curiosity is one driving force. Another force comes from beliefs. Beliefs form thoughts which inspire action.

Among other beliefs shared with me while growing up, I believed in actualizing my potential. Among other influences, this was impressed upon me by my parents and a special athletic group known as Sokol.

Formally known as the American Sokol Organization, I belonged to this gymnastics group for almost all of my life as a child. Sokol has the philosophy of a “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body.” Beyond the philosophy, it felt like a good idea. I never regretted attempting to actualize my potential.

While pursuing this continuous quest, I noticed that martial arts had a similar flavor of one being the best they can be. On top of that, the martial artists were doing something new and curious to me. They were meditating!


(Source: pixabay.com)

Based on my Sokol training, I knew that a healthy body wasn’t enough. Yet, how can one strengthen and actualize the mind? Being a kid and seeing meditating also happening in Star Wars, this meditation thing had to be explored! I went to the library and learned what I could.

To make a long story short, I was exposed to the basic techniques and many beliefs that came with my introduction to meditation. I meditated for many years. Over time, I shed myself of the beliefs which did not serve well. For awhile, I even stopped meditating since I wasn’t certain meditation was backed by science.

Just a few years ago, I came across some scientific proof that meditation yields a better brain. In short, increased focus and the ability to respond as opposed to blindly reacting to my emotions was something I gained. Now there was scientific proof from multiple sources too.

The question that remained for me was whether or not I was doing meditation well. I learned from some meditation iPhone apps that this is a common question. The simple answer is that one should just try their best and yet not focus “too hard.” What is especially important is to make meditation into a daily habit.

From what I learned from Nir Eyal and his excellent Hooked book, forming a habit is a well understood thing. For me, I came to understand that no matter what I will meditate daily even if it is for two minutes no matter how silly it felt. The daily repetition helped make it stick even in my most busy times.

So, the journey continues. As a thank you to others who have helped me on this path of self-actualization, I pay it forward. I share what I have learned with others.

Good luck with your own quest for excellence!



Meditating on Meditation Mobile Apps

For a long time, I have watched meditation apps come and go. I feel the apps have crossed a threshold of quality and reliability such that it’s ok to pony up some cash for what I see. Two have served quite well, 10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics and Headspace.

10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics

The content is fascinating and top notch. The daily video and meditations are short enough and thus bite sized for the busy person.

They hit on topics I care about deeply and didn’t see anywhere else. Specifically, I wanted to know if meditating would keep me from hitting goals I want to go for. I wanted to know if I would become complacent. They answer that question head-on and many other pragmatic topics. One can also replay the videos as often as desired.

Besides the Q & A sessions between Dan Harris and highly respected meditation experts such as Joseph Goldstein, it comes with guided meditations and even a personal coach who can send and receive messages.

It’s especially nice to have someone who can respond to your individual questions or an experience you want to share. Also, there is something nice about how easy it is to just send a message in the mobile app as opposed to sending emails back and forth.


There are some really well done videos such as this “blue sky” animation titled Underlying Calm that is shown right in the app as you progress through the steps.

Other Noteworthy Items:

  • The mobile application gives you a sense of progress and accomplishment.
  • There’s a download manager in the mobile application which I found very useful.
  • You can try it for free and then subscribe to the later packs.
  • There are many other items that are great about it. I highly recommend checking out their How It Works webpage.

“Which One Should I Choose?”

Ah. Good question. I started with Headspace. However, I switched to the 10% Happier app after trying both for a year.  I found the 10% Happier app essential to getting answers to some questions I have had. If I had never tried either, I would suggest starting with the 10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics. However, the choice is yours and you will come out ahead if you choose at least one.

Wrap Up

Although there are many meditation related apps out there, the best ones I know about are the two I covered in this article. Is there a fantastic one that I should try? Please feel free to leave a comment to share what you know or to just say hi. Good luck on your journey and be well!

Updated: December 7, 2017: I updated the Headspace video and content in this entire post.

(Unofficial) Mindful Minecraft Meditation

One day, my son looks up at me and says “Dad, I want to meditate too!”

How did my son get an interest in meditation? Through my example and having acquired a taste of meditation, the benefits of meditation had resonated. So, he asked for help.

Given his experience with games and exposure to Gamification, my son loves to “level up” in whatever he does. For those who don’t know, leveling up is achieving a related series of measurable goals and giving that achievement a name. It’s best done as part of a fun or adventurous narrative.

Unless made quite fun, being still and focusing on ones breath for any period of time can be torture for a child. It was time to cook up an appealing solution.

Combining his love of Minecraft, his desire to achieve, and the idea of “leveling up”, I made the following achievement levels for my little player:

  • Level 1 – Bow and Arrow – One understands the initial thoughts about meditation
  • Level 2 – Wooden Sword – Meditated one time
  • Level 3 – Stone Sword – Meditated for any amount of time 3 days in a row
  • Level 4 – Iron Sword – Meditated 5 days in a row. Diamond Sword level requirements were secret and are revealed at this time.
  • Level 5 – Diamond Sword – Number of days in a row required to meditate: 1 + (6 sided dice roll) for a chance to win the diamond sword. (In this case, 5 days since he rolled a 4.)

To get the diamond sword, he rolls a 6 sided dice after 5 days and he has a 1 in 6 chance of winning. If he doesn’t win, he does another 5 days but he will have a 2 / 6 chance of winning. If he doesn’t win, another 5 days go by and he’ll have a 3 / 6 chance of winning and so on.

Figuring out this Diamond Sword level required me to reach out to the wonderful Gamification Hub community for ideas. Which brought up some good questions such as “Is any of this tangible? Is this a Minecraft modification to the game?”

Simply, he does not receive anything tangible. There is no Minecraft game modification created for him. He simply knows what level he is at with respect to meditation. Although getting a sword is all in his mind, he’s quite happy knowing that he has achieved a certain level of recognized status.

Has meditation and this approach helped? Yes, it has helped. No matter where he is, it provides an escape hatch where he can reflect on what’s going on. In the long run, meditation yields a better brain. So, he is experiencing short term wins and also long term gains.

How long will such an approach last? For him, it lasted about two to three months. When someone pointed out that they don’t need levels, he declared he doesn’t need levels either. Yet, yesterday he was concerned that he lost some levels since he hasn’t meditated in awhile. Through future technology such as the Muse headband, I think meditation could be made more real to him. Until then, we can make the intangible tangible through a Mindful Minecraft Meditation.

Castle In Twilight

Authors note: The term “Unofficial” is used here in this post in order to comply with the Mojang brand guidelines.