10% Happier with Dan Harris: Tim Ferriss

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Intro
How did Tim get into Meditation?
  • For a very long time, Tim was resistant to meditation, he thought it was too “new-age and hippy”
  • Dan – Meditation has been the victim of the worst marketing campaign ever
  • “Meditation is a warm bath for your mind”
  • When Tim was writing The 4-Hour Chef he was very stressed/anxious
    • He essentially bit off more than he could chew, and agreed to write the book in 1.5 years (he took 3 years for each of his previous books) and do a lot of the photography (the book contained around 1,000 photographs)
    • All of this led to increased complexity and a decreased timeline
    • Tim used a LOT of caffeine in the writing of this book, despite the negative side effects
      • He took over the counter pre-workout stimulant pills
  • After finishing the book, he was noticeably depressed/anxious
  • A few friends suggested he try something he had given up on multiple times already, meditation
    • The books he had previously read on mediation were too “woo-woo” and didn’t contain enough concrete prescription
  • Rick Rubin and Chase Jarvis recommended Tim try Transcendental Mediation (TM), so he took a TM course and has since stuck with it
    • Ray Dalio is also a fan of this form of mediation, check out these notes from his interview on Tim’s podcast
    • Transcendental Meditation involves repeating a mantra over and over
    • Sam Harriss, author of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion recommends Vispassana Mediation
      • This is more of a Buddhist form of meditation which involves following the breath and other sensations throughout the body
  • “Meditation is a teachable, learnable skill that allows you to go from being in the movie of your thoughts, to a member of the audience, able to observe the story you created” 
  • Tim also likes to think of it like a washing machine – When he’s too controlled by his thoughts, he’s in the washing machine. Being mindfull and in the present state involves stepping outside the washing machine, and just watching your tumbling thoughts.
Thinking is not a failure
  • Many people think that when they meditate, and their mind wanders, they failed, but this isn’t the case
  • Tim began viewing this as practice – every time his mind wandered, it’s another practice repetition for getting back to focus
  • “The repetition of each bicep curl in meditation is not the absence of thought, it’s the realization that you’re in the washing machine and you have the ability to step out.”
Tim’s Silent Retreat Experience
  • Tim recently completed a 10 day silent meditation retreat
  • One friend of Tims, Adam Gazzaley, author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (great book!) referred Tim to Jack Kornfield, one of the people credited bringing Buddhist mediation practices to the West
    • Tim says he felt a certain pull towards Jack, and Jack happened to be co-leading a silent retreat at Spirit Rock in the coming months
  • “What happened was not what I expected”
    • Up to the retreat, Tim was meditating twice a day (he normally only does it once per day in the morning)
    • Tim also fasted for two days leading up to the retreat, and the first five days of it 
      • He didn’t want to be “sub-orbital” for the experience and essentially wanted to reach “escape velocity” – similar to wanting to avoid taking too low of a dose of psychedelics
      • So he used fasting/got into ketosis as a booster
      • Check out these notes with Dom D’Agostino for more on ketosis
  • A few days into it, Tim was supplementing with ground up magic mushrooms
    • He doesn’t really specify whether these were micro doses or normal doses, but I imagine he was micro dosing
  • It’s very common during these retreats that people relive childhood trauma
  • On Day 6, he felt extreme bliss and almost a weaning away of armor he had built up over the course of his life
  • On Day 7, “all hell broke loose”, and the trauma loops wouldn’t stop
    • An example of the trauma – Tim had a baby sitter at one point, whose alcoholic boyfriend would routinely choke him to near unconsciousness a few times a week
    • He hadn’t thought of occurrences like the above in a very long time, and this “wearing away of the armor” brought these experiences back
  • Tim doesn’t think he’ll do it again, and credits Jack Kornfield for helping him get through the retreat
  • Around 10-15% of people who go through retreats like this, have negative experiences similar to Tim
    • For this reason, he doesn’t recommend it for most people
Where has the retreat left him?
  • Tim has realized that all the issues and self-defeating behaviors he has, are all traced back to the same thing (the unresolved childhood trauma)
  • Tim plans on seeking out a number of trauma specialists
  • For 2018, besides working on getting to the route of this trauma, EVERYTHING else is secondary
  • Tim hopes to write about his experiences, but he realizes that with a great audience comes great responsibility, so he has to be careful of how he goes about doing so
    • If he were to be truthful, he would have to include a good amount regarding psychedelics – “The power that they have to heal is equal in their power to destabilize”
    • He has the raw material for a book on this subject, but it’s just a matter of when/if the “calculus makes sense” – stay tuned…
Closing
  • To anyone who feels like you are just tolerating yourself – “You cannot love other people fully, if you merely tolerate yourself”
  • “We must remember the golden rule goes in both directions”
  • “The mind is trainable, and the heart is openable”
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