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Meditation

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I practice mindfulness meditation regularly for an average of ~7 min every day for the last ~5 years. I try to meditate 20 min daily.

Why I am doing it?

  • Lowers anxiety. Brings higher control i.e. when extreme emotions would control me. Teaches patience. Enhances navigating through complex problems, decisions (i.e. it's making me a better designer)
  • Teaches acceptance, of how it is here and now. Tones down the part of my mind consumed by project thinking, the illusion that fulfillment and achievement are somewhere further.

How to meditate?

There are two states of mind: one being here and now and one being immersed in thought. Close your eyes and focus on experiencing the present. What are the sounds? How are the sensations of your body? How does your own consciousness feel? How a cloud of sensations like emotions feels like? There is no way of doing it wrong. Experience the sensations of here and now. Naturally, thoughts will come and take you away in the abstract space of no-time and no-place. Your task is to discover that you are consumed by thought and come back to here and now. Be kind to yourself. This is an impossibly hard task. Accept that you will be failing it. (in order to feel any effects commit to 10min a day for two weeks)

Or just play

My fav guided meditation

How to think about meditation?

The advantage of meditation is not that you’re suddenly going to gain the superpower to control your internal state, it’s that you will recognize just how out of control your mind is.

I think most of the people who never meditated have this impression that they are in control of their thoughts. During meditation, you witness how hard it is to stay here and now and that thoughts come up on their own.

Staying for a minute without getting distracted is a heroic feat. The longer you meditate the easier it is to recognize this "torrent of discursivity" which is preventing you from staying focused.

On a psychedelic like states that are accessible for very experienced meditators

If you would spend 18 hours a day meditating for a month. At the end of the month you will be noticing this white noise, this torrent of discursivity that is preventing you from staying on breath for a minute. And staying for a minute without getting distracted is a heroic feat. If you could pay attention to anything without being lost in thought for a minute at a time there would be neurophysiological correlates that are very drug like. There is immense pleasure that people get from being concentrated. There is bliss, rapture. Feeling of expansiveness in the mind, where your body disappears and consciousness feel like a vast void. And a only thing that appears might be the thing you were paying attention to. And even that might disappear and there is nothing but pure consciousness – an extraordinarily pleasurable psychedelic like experience. If you were actually concentrated as you imagine your self to be that would be very accessible to you. – Sam Harris in conversation with Adam Grant (1:02:08)

You can uncover that consciousness itself has intrinsic quality of wellbeing. Simply paying attention to the experience is the antidote to the feeling of dissatisfaction. That what is aware of sadness isn’t truly sad.

All of humanity's problems stem from men's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. – Blaise Pascal

Best argument

How to Master Your Mind? by

on Tim Ferriss Show

Best counter-argument

Listen to Adam Grant talking why he doesn't meditate on Sam Harris's Podcast (link to 50:30)

Naval Approach

What it really is, is the art of doing nothing. All you do for meditation is sit down, close your eyes. Whatever happens, happens. If you think – think. If you don't think – don't think. Don't put effort into it. Don't put effort against it ... Every meditation technique is leading you to the same thing which is witnessing. And concentration is a technique to steal your mind enough so you can then drop the object of concentration. So you could also just try going straight to the endgame ...

Happiness comes from peace. Peace comes from indifference. Indifference is the ultimate super power – this works in negotiation, relationships, and business opportunities. The place that I want to end up the most is just peace. Peace to me is happiness at rest ... The way we think we get peace is resolving all the external problems. There are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get piece is on the inside – by giving up this idea of problems.

When we grow up – there is all the stuff happening to you and your life. And some of it you're processing, some of it your absorbing and some of it you don't. You don't have time so it gets buried in you. It's all these preferences, judgments, unresolved situations and issues. And is like an email inbox. Just piling up. Email after email after email that's not answered, going back 10, 20, 30, 40 years. And then when you sit down to meditate those emails are coming back at you. Hey, what about this issue? What about that issue? Did you solve this? Do you think about that?

And that gets scary. People don't want to do that. I can't clear my mind. I better get up and not do this. But really what's happening it's self therapy. Instead of paying a therapist to listen to you, you are listening to yourself. And you have to sit there as these emails go one by one until you get to the magical inbox zero. And then comes the day when the only things you are thinking about are the things that happened yesterday because you processed everything else. Not necessarily resolved it but at least listened to yourself ...

The problem with what I'm talking about is you will have to listen to you in mind for a long time. It's not gonna work if you don't do at least an hour a day and preferably at least 60 days before you can work through a lot of issues so it'll be hell for a while. But when you come out on the other side, it's great.

When the chatter comes it is in the background, it's dimmer, it's smaller. You heard it before. You seen the patterns. It's more recent. It's something you need to resolve anyway, and you will get moment of actual silence ...

When you're really meditating you're not there. There are no thoughts. There are no experiences. There's nothing ... Every psychedelic state that people encounter using so-called plant medicines can be arrived at just through pure meditation.

Joe Rogan: You've hit some transcendent psychedelic states?

Yes. I have had trippy visuals. I've had the kind of lights and colors. I had so-called downloads. I've had realizations. I've had the bliss.

Joe Rogan: But not every time?

No, it's rare and I would say that's also like an experience that you can start craving, which will then actually take you out of meditation ...

The place that I want to end up the most is just peace. Peace to me is happiness at rest. And happiness is a piece in motion. ... The way we think we get peace is resolving all the external problems. There are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get piece is on the inside – by giving up this idea of problems.

from Naval Ravikant on Joe Rogan's Show Listen on YouTube 1:19:50

On entering "meditative" states in common activities

(20:51) I’m trying to turn off my monkey mind. I think, when we’re born as children, we’re pretty blank slates. We’re living very much in the moment. We’re essentially just reacting to our environment through our instincts. We’re living in, what I would call the “real world.” When puberty comes along, that’s the onset of desire, it’s the first time you really, really want something and you start long-range planning for it. Because of that, you start thinking a lot and start building an identity and an ego to go and get what you want.

This is all normal and healthy. It’s part of being the human animal. I think at some point it gets out of control and then we are constantly talking to ourselves in our head. We’re playing little movies in our heads, walking down the street, but no one’s actually there. Of course, if we started voicing this thought in your head that you’re always having, you’d be a madman and they’d lock you up.

The reality is if you walk down the street and there are a thousand people in the street, I think all thousand are talking to themselves in their head at any given point. They’re constantly judging everything that they see. They’re playing back movies of things that happened to them yesterday. They’re living in fantasy worlds of what’s going to happen tomorrow. They’re just pulled out of base reality.

That could be good when you’re doing long-range planning. It can be good when you’re solving problems. It’s good for the survival and replication machines that we are. I think it’s actually very bad for your happiness. In my mind, the mind should be a servant and a tool, not a master. It’s not something that should be controlling me and driving me 24/7.

I’ve taken on this idea that I want to break the habit of uncontrolled thinking, which is hard. If I say to you, “Don’t think of a pink elephant”, I just put a pink elephant in your head. It’s an almost impossible problem. It’s more something that has to be guided by feel, than guided by actual thinking or thought process. I’m deliberately cultivating experiences, states of mind, locations, activities, that will help me get out of my mind.

All of society does that to some extent. In some sense, the people chasing thrills in action sports or flow states or orgasm or any of these states that people really strive to get to, a lot of these are basically just trying to get out of your own head. They’re trying to get away from that voice in your head and this overdeveloped sense of self. At the very least, I do not want my sense of self to continue to develop and become stronger as I get older. I want it to be weaker and more muted so that I can live much more in present every day and accept nature and the world for what it is and appreciate it very much as a child would.

from Naval Ravikant on Shane Parrish Podcast Link

Other Links

Waking Up Course meditation course by Sam Harriss (paid)