Meditation as self-therapy and psychedelic bliss.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ~Blaise Pascal
I recently heard the best description of meditation I ever have.
In a conversation with Joe Rogan, Naval Ravikant speaks of meditation — which he calls the art of doing nothing — as a form of self-therapy and a vehicle for reaching a state of psychedelic bliss.
Forgive me if this is a cliché topic, but I was genuinely blown away when I listened to Naval describe his experience with meditation. He made it sound so amazing, I couldn’t wait to sit down and try it.
I have actually tried meditating before, but I had no idea what I was doing. My understanding of it at the time was limited to sitting crossed legged with my hands facing up at my knees, eyes closed — the stereotypical image.
I had no idea what the point was, or what I was supposed to be looking for. I just had some vague idea that it would bring calm and happiness. And after a few minutes of trying, I would either give up because of physical discomfort or because I thought it was pointless.
I don’t think I was ready to understand the benefits then. And I’m still not sure if I’ll have the discipline to give it a fair chance. According to Naval, you really start to get somewhere after practicing 60 days, one hour per day.
Because that seems so daunting to me, I decided to get my feet wet right here, right now. I challenged myself to a mini-meditation session of three minutes.
I set the timer on my phone, put my computer down, and got into position. I pressed start on the timer and closed my eyes. Guess what happened?
I got a Snapchat notification after the first minute. Damn it, I forgot to turn the sound on my phone off! I turned it off and continued on. Then I was distracted by the dog sitting next to me, repositioning on the couch. Then I realized I was wondering when my own mind was going to stop distracting me from meditating. Then I smiled a little and realized I was onto something. Then I thought about a friend who told me about a meditation app, and how Naval said he would never use an app. Then I thought about running through the sprinklers as a child, when things were simple. Then the crickets sounded on my alarm. Three minutes had passed.
It actually wasn’t that bad. Maybe I could do this longer. But 60 days in a row? I think making it one hour would be a great feat.
After listening to Naval speak, though, I’m looking forward to giving it an honest try. And now I feel I at least have some idea what to expect or hope for.
“It’s self therapy, it’s just that instead of paying a therapist to sit there and listen to you, you’re listening to yourself.” ~Naval Ravikant
When I think of talk therapy, I recall appreciating the ability to ramble with my therapist. Being able to say anything and everything that comes to mind with another person, with no judgment, is incredibly cathartic, and healing.
The thought of sitting in silence, letting thoughts come to mind, witnessing them, not judging them, and letting them pass — the thought of being a good listener to myself — sounds phenomenal.
Naval says most people get scared when they meditate.
He says when we sit down and try to listen to our minds, the stories of our lives are going to play. Our stories are filled with pleasure and pain and everything in between, and we likely have unresolved issues. And it can be uncomfortable to just sit there and listen to those issues.
But, he says, “There comes a day when you sit down and you realize the only things you’re thinking about are the things that happened yesterday because you processed everything else, not necessarily even resolved everything but you listened to yourself, and that’s when meditation starts.”
I can’t even imagine what that would be like. To have your mind so clear and light? To be so present in the day, you only go so far back as yesterday’s issues when you sit and think? Sounds dreamy.
“Every psychedelic state that people encounter using so-called plant medicines can be arrived at just through pure meditation, and I’ve definitely hit some of those states.” ~Naval Ravikant
Ok, this just sounds fun.
Naval says he’s had trippy visuals, experienced light and colors, realizations, “downloads”, and bliss through meditation.
And all these years I thought drugs and alcohol were the only ways to get high. Ok, and music and dancing. Seriously though, if it’s really possible to reach such states through meditation, wouldn’t that be something?
As an aside, isn’t it strange how there’s only one letter differentiating between medication and meditation? Am I high right now? Those three minutes must’ve been more powerful than I thought.
Along with self-therapy, psychedelic bliss is another attractive end that makes the means seem well worth it.
Naval says those times of bliss can be experiences you start craving, which would then be another distraction from meditation. Makes sense. He also says that the ultimate experience for him is to achieve peace.
All of it sounds good to me.
Being able to process our thoughts in a healthy way; being able to experience a high sans substance; being able to settle into our own minds in peace — all of this would be wonderful.
The question is, will I be able to do it? Will I be able to witness my own thoughts without shutting down and hiding, or covering up the sound with other noise? How well do I listen to myself?
Could you do it? Do you think you could meditate for 60 minutes straight? Could you listen to your mind run wild, and let your thoughts surface without judging them or running away?
How well do you listen to yourself?