Psychedelics, Meditation, and COVID-19 | Sam Harris on The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Fear is a necessary part of our tool kit for evolutionary and personal reasons
    • The goal of meditation isn’t to eradicate fear altogether but rather to stop feeling fear when it isn’t useful
  • Mindfulness is a good intervention tool to combat stress and anxiety
    • “Mindfulness is really the method by which you can let go of it because you notice the thoughts…once you let the thoughts go and are willing to feel the raw sensation of anxiety, the sensations lose their psychological importance” – Sam Harris
  • Either you can do something about the problem or you can’t, but in either case, stressing out about it won’t help
    • If you can do something to solve the problem, do it
    • If you can’t, then why suffer twice?
  • What is the most powerful feature of psychedelics?
    • “The thing about psychedelics is it can give you…an experience of states of consciousness for which there is no possibility of skepticism” Sam Harris
  • “For psychedelics like psilocybin, mushrooms, and LSD, you’re nowhere near a lethal dose of the compound”Sam Harris
    • With the exception of MDMA and ibogaine, be careful with those
  • Tim’s advice for people looking to experiment with psychedelics:
    • Be aware of the legality of the drug and the laws you may be breaking
    • Before you recommend other people to try psychedelics, get a few experiences under your belt including one that’s not purely positive
  • “There is no rebooting of this economy with a contagion like this raging and people falling sick” – Sam Harris
    • “The truth is we could resolve this in something like a month if we had our act together. Literally, we could lockdown for a month and this would burn itself out.”

Intro

Thoughts On Fear & Mindfulness

  • Fear is necessary for evolutionary and personal reasons
    • The goal of meditation isn’t to eradicate fear altogether, the goal is to stop feeling fear when it isn’t useful
      • “Let go of it the moment you’re no longer served by seeing the world through that lens” – Sam Harris
        • Fear is only helpful for a few seconds, after that it loses its usefulness 
  • Mindfulness is a good intervention tool to combat stress and anxiety
    • “Mindfulness is really the method by which you can let go of it because you notice the thoughts…once you let the thoughts go and are willing to feel the raw sensation of anxiety, the sensations lose their psychological importance” – Sam Harris
  • Tim is a fan of Sam’s Waking Up app
  • “In most cases, the thing we’re worrying about hasn’t happened, it’s still hypothetical” – Sam Harris
    • Either you can do something about the problem or you can’t, but in either case, stressing out about it won’t help
      • If you can do something to solve the problem, do it
      • If you can’t, then why suffer twice?

Changes In Views

  • What has Sam changed his mind about recently?
    • He’s become far less hopeful with getting a political consensus around large problems
      • Political parties still can’t work together to fight climate change
        • The solution for climate change is coming from businesspeople and not politicians
          • “We actually simply have to design products and sources of energy that people find more desirable” – Sam Harris
      • Political parties also can’t work together to fight the coronavirus

Sam’s Experience With Psychedelics

  • Psychedelics have now become a very popular topic in research
    • Sam has experimented with LSD and shrooms. What does it feel like?
      • “Your perception is vastly altered and your conceptual framework is vastly altered but you’re still a subject now either enjoying or suffering the consequences of having your nervous system driven from below by the pharmacology”Sam Harris
  • Taking acid is like spinning the psychological roulette wheel, you don’t know what is going to come up
    • Some bad trips leave a negative psychological residue that can take a few weeks to get rid of
  • What is the most powerful feature of psychedelics?
    • “The thing about psychedelics is it can give you…an experience of states of consciousness for which there is no possibility of skepticism” Sam Harris
      • When you take psychedelics and experience a new level of consciousness, it’s hard to deny it
  • Based on which psychedelic you take, it will produce a different experience and the length of your journey may vary as well
  • “For psychedelics like psilocybin, mushrooms, and LSD, you’re nowhere near a lethal dose of the compound”Sam Harris
    • Even extreme doses are highly unlikely to be toxic for you
      • “These are physically very safe drugs”
        • With the exception of MDMA and ibogaine, be careful with those
          • Sam and Tim view MDMA as more of an empathogen than a psychedelic
  • Sam prefers to err on the side of taking a higher dose of psychedelics over less because it will allow you to have a truly transcendent experience
  • MDMA can be incredibly effective to treat PTSD
    • MDMA allows you to reexamine trauma from a detached observer perspective so you can recontextualize and process that trauma without retraumatizing yourself

Advice For Your Psychedelic Trip

  • Tim’s advice for people looking to experiment with psychedelics:
    • Consider the legality of the drug and the laws you may be breaking
    • Before recommending others to try psychedelics, get a few experiences yourself, including one that’s not purely positive
      • “If you’ve only had good trips, you’re almost the worst judge of what is possible for somebody else” – Sam Harris
  • Taking psychedelics for the first time during this pandemic is probably not the best idea

Thoughts on COVID

  • Sam’s thought on COVID:
    • “Nothing’s changed, but yet, on some level, everything has changed, and I feel like I’m in a spaceship where at any moment, the leak or the breach in the wall can be catastrophic. It’s a very bizarre feeling, which I know everyone is sharing to one or another degree.”  – Sam Harris
  • People are terrified of the economic volatility from COVID
    • A privilege few can continue to work from home but a large portion of the population cant’
      • “There’s a level of wealth inequality that is magnifying this problem” – Sam Harris
  • “We should just be looking for opportunities to help the people who are more vulnerable than we are” – Sam Harris
    • If you’re in a position to help people economically, you should 
      • Society is a system and we all rely on one another. If the system breaks down, we all fail.
  • “There is no rebooting of this economy with a contagion like this raging and people falling sick” – Sam Harris
    • “The truth is we could resolve this in something like a month if we had our act together. Literally, we could lockdown for a month and this would burn itself out.”
  • COVID is a collective experience, we’re all going through this challenge, don’t blame yourself 
    • “Be gentle with oneself and compassionate if you can be” – Tim Ferriss
  • The government needs to get its act together
    • “We’re really suffering under a lack of effective governance now” – Sam Harris
      • We’re learning a lot about what’s wrong with the government during this time
  • “We’re the richest society that has ever existed and we’re scrambling to produce the most basic tools at the moment, it makes absolutely no sense” – Sam Harris
  • If you want to help with COVID, Tim recommends considering: Flexport and Operation Masks
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Notes By Alex Wiec

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