Dan Harris: Hack Your Brain’s Default Mode with Meditation


There’s no way a fidgety and skeptical news
anchor would ever have started meditating were it not for the science. The science is
really compelling. It shows that meditation can boost your immune system, lower your blood
pressure, help you deal with problems ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to psoriasis.
And the neuroscience is where it really gets sci-fi. There was a study out of Harvard that
shows that short daily doses of meditation can literally grow the gray matter in key
areas of your brain having to do with self-awareness and compassion and shrink the gray matter
in the area associated with stress. There was also a study out of Yale that looked
at what’s called the default mode network of the brain. It’s a connected series of
brain regions that are active during most of our waking hours when we’re doing that
thing that human beings do all the time which is obsessing about ourselves, thinking about
the past, thinking about the future, doing anything but being focused on what’s happening
right now. Meditators not only turn off the default mode network of their brain while
they’re meditating but even when they’re not meditating. In other words, meditators
are setting a new default mode. And what’s that default mode? They’re focused on what’s
happening right now. In sports this is called being in the zone.
It’s nothing mystical. It’s not magical. You’re not floating off into cosmic ooze.
You are just being where you are – big cliché in self-help circles is being in the now.
You can use that term if you want but because it’s accurate. It’s slightly annoying
but it’s accurate. It’s more just being focused on what you’re doing. And the benefits
of that are enormous. And this is why you’re seeing these unlikely meditators now, why
you’re seeing the U.S. Marines adopting it, the U.S. Army, corporate executives from
the head of Ford to the founders of Twitter. Athletes from Phil Jackson to many, many Olympians.
Scientists, doctors, lawyers, school children. There’s this sort of elite subculture of
high achievers who are adopting this because they know it can help you be more focused
on what you’re doing and it can stop you from being yanked around by the voice in your
head. My powers of prognostication are not great.
I bought a lot of stock in a company that made Palm Pilot back in 2000 and that didn’t
go so well for me. But having said that I’m going to make a prediction. I think we’re
looking at meditation as the next big public health revolution. In the 1940s if you told
people that you went running they would say, who’s chasing you. Right now if you tell
people you meditate – and I have a lot of experience with telling people this, they’re
going to look at you like you’re a little weird most of the time. That’s going to
change. Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no brainers like exercise, brushing your
teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you. These are all things that
if you don’t do you feel guilty about. And that is where I think we’re heading with
meditation because the science is so strongly suggestive that meditation can do really,
really great things for your brain and for your body. The common assumption that we have, and it
may be subconscious, is that our happiness really depends on external factors – how
was our childhood, have we won the lottery recently, did we marry well, did we marry
at all. But, in fact, meditation suggests that happiness is actually a skill, something
you can train just the way you can train your body in the gym. It’s a self-generated thing.
And that’s a really radical notion. It doesn’t mean that external circumstances aren’t
going to impact your happiness. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be subject to the
vagaries of an impermanent, entropic universe. It just means you are going to be able to
navigate this with a little bit more ease.

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Comments

  1. and if you're too impatient for meditation, then there are psychedelics. Especially tryptamines.
    Here's the skinny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50r3Ir1FVBQ
    Here's a more detailed and recent video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeNl0HjqAGo

  2. I wake up in the middle of the night from a severe abdominal pain(IBS) while semi conscious and I remember to meditate and I start breathing and shutting down any thoughts, couple of mins afterward and I'm sleeping again.

    I think meditation should be taught at school.

  3. "a big cliché in self-help circles is "being in the now." you can use that term if you want because it's accurate. it's slightly annoying, but it's accurate."

    small remarks like that may not seem like a big deal, but if you want to be successful, don't discuss any personal opinions or doubts; and especially don't let your own beliefs get in the way

  4. Excellent! I'm a scientist with an extremely demanding job. These past few weeks I've made efforts to work out every day before work, as well as meditating twice a day. i just feel better overall, and my ability to focus has improved.

  5. Jesus was already talking and teaching about meditation over 2000 years ago, but you wait till someone studies tell you is right for you, that's why you should look for Jesus and from there everything will be revealed

  6. A Note on Resting States and Resting Brains: A Different Perspective

    A resting state, or ‘somatic rest’, would seem to correspond with a brain at rest or ‘neurologic’ rest, but by definition, somatic and neurologic rest are entirely different things.

    A resting ‘state’ or somatic rest represents the inactivity of the striatal musculature that results from the application of resting protocols (continual avoidance of perseverative thought represented by rumination, worry, and distraction.). Resting states also are affective states, as they elicit opioid activity in the brain. Resting states in turn may occur in tandem with all levels of non-perseverative thought that are passive or active, from just passively ‘being in the moment’ or being mindful, to actively engaging in complex and meaningful cognitive behavior. The latter cognitive behavior is also affective in nature due to their elicitation of dopaminergic activity. On the other hand, a resting ‘brain’, neurologic rest, or the so-called ‘default mode network’ is a specific type of neural processing that occurs when the mind is in a ‘passive’ state, or in other words, is presented with no or very limited cognitive demands. This results in ‘mind wandering’ that can entail non-perseverative (creative thought) or perseverative thought (rumination, worry). As such a resting brain may or may not correlate with somatic rest, and is correlated with a level of demand, not a kind of demand, as in somatic rest.

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/284056765/The-Book-of-Rest-The-Odd-Psychology-of-Doing-Nothing

  7. My mind is in a constant state of meditation. Clear your mind, be water, now water can crash and water can flow, you put water into a pot, it becomes a pot, put it in a tea pot it becomes a team, be water my friend

  8. Meditation is dangerous if misused. It can lead to a lobotomized attitude, a refusal to get upset about things you should get upset about, etc.

  9. A Note on Resting States, Resting Brains, and Meditative and Flow States

    A resting state, or ‘somatic rest’, would seem to correspond with a brain at rest or ‘neurologic’ rest, but by definition, somatic and neurologic rest are entirely different things. A resting ‘state’ or somatic rest represents the inactivity of the striatal musculature that results from the application of resting protocols (continual avoidance of perseverative thought represented by rumination, worry, and distraction.). Resting states also are affective states, as they elicit opioid activity in the brain. Resting states in turn may occur in tandem with all levels of non-perseverative thought that are passive or active, from just passively ‘being in the moment’ or being mindful, to actively engaging in complex and meaningful cognitive behavior. The latter cognitive behavior is also additionally affective in nature due to its elicitation of dopaminergic activity, and resulting opioid-dopamine interaction results in a perceived state of ‘bliss’ or ‘flow’. On the other hand, a resting ‘brain’, neurologic rest, or the so-called ‘default mode network’ is a specific type of neural processing that occurs when the mind is in a ‘passive’ state, or in other words, is presented with no or very limited cognitive demands. This results in ‘mind wandering’ that can entail non-perseverative (creative thought) or perseverative thought (rumination, worry). As such a resting brain may or may not correlate with somatic rest, and is correlated with a level of demand, not a kind of demand, as in somatic rest.

    Like the broad color palate that emerges from the intermix of three primary colors, it may be argued that meditative states are simply emergent properties of two very distinctive neuro-physiological resting states that have separate and easily definable causes. It is remarkable that in the literature of meditation, the neuro-physiology of rest both in body and mind is not defined, with a similar neglect to how neuro-muscular activity is actively shaped by experience or learning. The importance of meditation is very real, and the meditative community is understandably averse to equating it with rest since it makes meditation less ‘special’ or less marketable. But that is my argument nonetheless, which in the end provides a better advocacy of meditation by denying that meditation elicits a unique physiological process or state, which like the concept of ‘phlogiston’, or the imaginary element that enabled fire, impedes rather than furthers scientific inquiry.

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/284056765/The-Book-of-Rest-The-Odd-Psychology-of-Doing-Nothing

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/121345732/Relaxation-and-Muscular-Tension-A-bio-behavioristic-explanation

  10. Pantheon of no brainers like taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you? If thats a no brainer to some then they have no brain.

  11. I have read that Transcendental Meditation increases the Default Mode Network, then it is pretty much conterproductive for getting into "the zone", or have I missunderstood it?

    All the best!
    KR
    RD

  12. A no brainer is you should be "taking the meds that your doctor prescribe to you"

    Doesnt that kinda contradict what meditation is all about ?

  13. What's the key for the console commands in the brain's interface? I'm having a hard time going through the Education mission.

  14. being doing it for 20 years , and you explained so well. It changes everything, you are here and now and your mind is always calm , so you can resolve situations easily.

  15. you can not be an achiever and meditate to the fullest extent. those brains that have scientificallly shown the upside of meditation belong to master meditators and they dont do it 10 minutes a day and get on with their materialistic selfish empty lives, rather they spend their whole lives observing life and themselves, and mostly theyre buddhists not a jackass like you dan harris

  16. Eh in 100 years everyone gonna laugh from this Islam joke and Christian joke and probably everyone gonna know that brain is just a tool and many others.

  17. Just throwing this out here as i dont see it in the comment. The Mind Illuminated book is a nice start for those interested to try meditation

  18. shallow depth in the Zen or meditation, it could take several decades for western countries' people to realize more for that. it really is"Meditation, it's not what you think".

  19. Sorry Dan but "taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you" is probably going to drop of the list of wise health choice no brainers. Just saying, putting hardcore synthetic compounds into the body might not be as smart as Wall Street says it is.

  20. People of India knew 10000 years before science proved it. That's y India is called land of enlightened beings. Meditation n yoga r d greatest gifts given to d world by India.

  21. I liked everything except the part about ‘taking the med’s your doctor prescribes’ – often that’s a bad idea.
    Eat healthy, sleep well, exercise right & meditate . . . and don’t let the Dr mess you up with pills.

  22. It is down to operating in theta frequencies similar to hypnosis. If you're able to study, practice, relax in theta, you'll engrain it deeper. Using that notion, I play instruments as a hobby and since the day I did, it changed me. Akin to meditation, I believe anything like martial arts, music, painting etc is good for the brain and body as you exercise focus and discipline, similar to practicing mindfulness. Now, I do both simultaneously where I can.

  23. This will be especially more common in the near future as society is becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of mental health.

  24. I tried meditating this past year and could only get to 2 weeks max, it’s so hard to do daily. Once it gets passed like 4 pm I started feeling overwhelmed since I meditate twice a day. Also I didn’t notice any benefits really…. I’m skeptical about if meditation works, because 2 weeks in I didn’t notice any change at all, also I saw colors moving and shit and once when I opened my eyes everything in my vision was shaking left to right…. I’m gonna try for 3 months straight, if this shit doesn’t work then I’ll finally hop on anti depressants/anti anxiety, sick of feeling like shit and so down and getting randomly depersonalized due to feeling stressed randomly.

  25. So true! What's cool is once you understand how easy it is and how to do it you cam create your own method 🙂

  26. Use meditation while even typing a comment on Youtube. Notice how you are hitting every letter to form a word, sentence, or even paragraph.

    Be in this moment of typing a comment. Be in this very moment, otherwise you will miss your whole life.

  27. Agree with all what he says. I would just include entheogens (silicon valley is microdosing psychadelics already) for an even deeper understanding and well being of humanity. Scientists know that entheogens pretty much shut down the DMN too, and most of them bind to serotonin like a key that just fits to it's lock. They will heal your depression and traumas when these entheogens are treated with the respect they deserve.😌
    And if you want to experience Samadhi, at least once in your lifetime, I suggest 5MeoDMT….🙏Namaste

  28. This isn't totally accurate. Meditation is not just focused attention (although that is certainly part of it), and being "in the zone" is actually more akin to psychological flow, which is a different experience and construct. The key is awareness of attention. One must be aware of where the attention is.

  29. Came across this article it mentions the default mode network and the mental processes at work in meditation https://claytonmicallef.com/meditation-attentional-cognitive-processes/

  30. I knew happiness was a self generated experience, just by proxy. 7 to 9 year old arrives to school, tearful, he didn't want to be there. He sits on a bench alone, first time in life he does not care about others around and he is conscious about it, he thinks why he's father insist so much in bringing him to school, he looks at his mates and other students arriving, he realize that he is apart from the others. He is alone. He didn't know he will always be. Only he can be inside his mind, no other person could see what he sees, no the person can perceive in his mind.

  31. I got a Mindvalley ad before this vid that said meditation and the altered states of mind they enable are what make you successful and not hard work and education. I think they're missing the point somewhat, these 'altered states of mind' are what help you to be hard working and more likely to succeed. Dan Harris puts it far better than Mindvalley did

  32. so glad dan went in this direction in his career. i always liked his personality in the news but this makes him feel like a normal person.

    with a very important helpful message.

  33. A Note on Resting States, Resting Brains, and Meditative States: of why this speaker is full of it, and it ain't wisdom

    A resting state, or ‘somatic rest’, would seem to correspond with a brain at rest or ‘neurologic’ rest, but by definition, somatic and neurologic rest are entirely different things. A resting ‘state’ or somatic rest represents the inactivity of the striatal musculature that results from the application of resting protocols (continual avoidance of perseverative thought represented by rumination, worry, and distraction.). Resting states also are affective states, as they elicit opioid activity in the brain. Resting states in turn may occur in tandem with all levels of non-perseverative thought that are passive or active, from just passively ‘being in the moment’ or being mindful, to actively engaging in complex and meaningful cognitive behavior. The latter cognitive behavior is also additionally affective in nature due to its elicitation of dopaminergic activity, and resulting opioid-dopamine interaction results in a perceived state of ‘bliss’ or ‘flow’. On the other hand, a resting ‘brain’, neurologic rest, or the so-called ‘default mode network’ is a specific type of neural processing that occurs when the mind is in a ‘passive’ state, or in other words, is presented with no or very limited cognitive demands. This results in ‘mind wandering’ that can entail non-perseverative (creative thought) or perseverative thought (rumination, worry). As such a resting brain may or may not correlate with somatic rest, and is correlated with a level of demand, not a kind of demand, as in somatic rest.

    Like the broad color palate that emerges from the intermix of three primary colors, it may be argued that meditative states are simply emergent properties of two very distinctive neuro-physiological resting states that have separate and easily definable causes. It is remarkable that in the literature of meditation, the neuro-physiology of rest both in body and mind is not defined, with a similar neglect to how neuro-muscular activity is actively shaped by experience or learning. The importance of meditation is very real, and the meditative community is understandably averse to equating it with rest since it makes meditation less ‘special’ or less marketable. But that is my argument nonetheless, which in the end provides a better advocacy of meditation by denying that meditation elicits a unique physiological process or state, which like the concept of ‘phlogiston’, or the imaginary element that enabled fire, impedes rather than furthers scientific inquiry.

    from 'The Book of Rest' at site doctormezmer

  34. i love how in the description the writer calls saying 'in the now' a big cliché in self-help circles and annoying, then immediately states that resetting what they prefer to call the default mode means to be focused on what’s happening right now lol. same thing

  35. Meditation changed me too. I cannot stress enough how much the world needs meditation. The world would be a much much better place if all of us started mediating.

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