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TV news anchor's journey from medication to meditation

Courtesy ABC News

Acting on impulse is a problem many people deal with, but many do not know how to control. However, one television news anchor says there is a way to control your thoughts and actions before you yell at the person that cut you in line at Starbucks.

This week on “Take Care,” ABC News anchor Dan Harris discusses the benefits of meditation and how it made him change his view on his life. Harris is the author of the newly published 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.” Harris currently works as a correspondent for ABC News and is a co-anchor for Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America.

Harris spent a lot of time reporting in war zones and, as a result, he became addicted to the adrenaline rush it gave him. After returning from an extensive time in Iraq and Afghanistan, he developed depression and decided to self-medicate with cocaine and ecstasy.

“I didn’t even really know that I was depressed, although I was exhibiting what I now know to be some of the classic symptoms,” Harris says.

After having an embarrassing panic attack on air because of his drug use, Harris was ready to find help and stopped taking drugs and began visiting a shrink regularly. But, he says, it wasn't enough.

Coincidentally, he was assigned by his then-boss Peter Jennings to cover the faith and spirituality beat. It was not a topic he was excited to cover. He ended it up enjoying learning the topic, but says nothing moved him personally until he came across the self-help guru Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle wrote about the concept the notion that we all have an inner narrator in our heads, which can "yank you around," said Harris. And he realized that explained the journey his life took that ended in drugs.

But, Harris says, Tolle didn't prescribe a way for people to get beyond the inner voices that are negative.

Meditation then came into his life when he read a book by Dr. Mark Epstein who wrote about the overlap between psychology and Buddhism.

Harris says meditation is simple, but not easy.

“You are breaking deeply engrained habits.”

Meditation doesn’t remove your edge, but it lets you draw a better line between what Harris calls constructive anguish and useless rumination.

And meditation is known to have health benefits – it can reduce your blood pressure, lower the release of the stress hormone cortisol, and it quite literally rewires your brain.

That is what Harris says he needed, and what has helped him be happier.