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Mental Health
3 Min Read
Last Updated: 12.06.23

Dr. Sam Harris: Using Meditation to Focus, View Consciousness & Expand Your Mind

Dr. Huberman welcomes Sam Harris, Ph.D., a renowned intellectual on meditation, consciousness, and neuroscience. They discuss meditation techniques, its impact on worldview and daily life, therapeutic use of psychedelics, and Sam’s decision to leave social media. This episode explores brain functions, consciousness, and maximizing the benefits of meditation.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Note: because this episode is more conversational, we strongly recommend watching it.

No specific region in the brain has been identified that can entirely account for our perception of self.

Understanding the process of consciousness can profoundly shift the way one engages with the world and oneself.

Perception is elastic in the brain, and the frame rate by which we process conscious experience can expand and contract depending on our state of mind

  • Understanding how conscious we are about our state of mind can impact our perception of tim

Consciousness: the fact that there’s something that it’s like to be us

  • Qualitative character of consciousness changes with different states of arousal, neurological deficits, or drugs

Meditation is about recognizing what consciousness is always like, regardless of its contents.

Meditation can help recognize the unity of experience

  • Initially, it may feel like you’re on the riverbank, watching the flow of consciousness
  • Eventually, you realize you are the river, and there’s no separation between you and your experience

The 30-​​second experiment

  • Most people cannot pay attention to something for 30 seconds without being lost in thought
  • Even those who think they can are often mistaken

Classic mindfulness practice (Vipassana meditation) involves paying scrupulous attention to sensory experiences

  • Breaks down experiences into microscopic sensory moments
  • Helps to differentiate between being lost in thought and being mindful

Paying attention to pain or negative emotions can change the experience of them

  • Resistance to feeling pain or emotions can cause suffering
  • Focusing on the sensations can lead to relief and equanimity

Non-​​dualistic meditation recognizes that there is no place from which to aim attention

  • Subject-​​object duality is not present
  • Can lead to a bistable percept, where the sense of self and duality can be easily switched

Meditation is not about adding a practice to your life, but ceasing to do something

  • It’s about recognizing what consciousness is like when not distracted by thoughts

Thoughts are not the enemy in meditation

  • They are spontaneous appearances in consciousness that can be observed

Mindfulness is the practice of paying careful attention to whatever arises on its own

  • Can start with a single object like the breath as an anchor
  • Can open up to sounds, sensations, moods, emotions, and thoughts

Goal is to be more equanimous with changes

  • Not grasping at what’s pleasant or interesting
  • Not pushing away what’s unpleasant or boring
  • Developing a sky-​​like mind that allows everything to appear without clinging or reacting

Everything in biology is a process, not a noun. Effective meditation practice involves discarding noun and adjective modes of language.

  • Focus on the fleeting nature of perception without focusing on any specific event or object

People often claim that activities like running, skiing, or playing guitar are their meditation

  • However, these activities alone will not teach the practice of meditation

Meditation can be practiced during conversations, helping to notice when we contract or react to others.
Being lost in thought about anger fuels the physiology of anger

  • Noticing thought as thought dissipates anger quickly
  • Mindfulness allows for the choice of how long to be angry and whether it’s useful


We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Dr. Sam Harris: Using Meditation to Focus, View Consciousness & Expand Your Mind

    Huberman Lab #105

    Dr. Huberman hosts Sam Harris, Ph.D., an expert in meditation, consciousness, and neuroscience. They discuss meditation techniques, psychedelics, and brain functions, offering insights for maximizing the benefits of meditation.

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