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

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.

100 Comments

  • Peter Te says:

    This video is good for people but not YouTube. I'M gonna get off YT and go meditate. Thanks YT?

  • Rajit Tharan says:

    meditation shrinks grey matter in the brain associated with stress? lol.
    stress shrinks grey matter in the first place.
    I meditate regularly

  • Kirk Daniels says:

    I appreciate your work Dan

  • Ape X says:

    Just like marijuana

  • Gemini Neils says:

    His book is amazing! Funny and enlightening.

  • drumraine says:

    I like being ''yanked around by the voice in my head''. The US Marines should try it.

  • Ruairi Quinn says:

    Great video

  • Chase Lacey says:

    ok what about cyborg

  • Neur0s1s says:

    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

  • Black Machinima says:

    Nothing is more fake than God and you are PRODUCERS creation is not a physics term you fascist retards

  • Victor Palmer says:

    Happiness is a path

  • abdul jahhaf says:

    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.

  • Cassandra Little says:

    "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

  • Mr. N says:

    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.

  • Javier Cedillo says:

    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

  • Ni SSS says:

    Oh bs speech

  • Francisco Borges says:

    Not so radical notion..from having a good heart with loving kindness, negative action cannot arise

  • AJ Marr says:

    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

  • Sam says:

    but… cosmic ooze is SOOOOOOOOO cool dude !!!

  • Alqama Hasnain says:

    Alan Watts said "Meditation is best as a medicine, and not so much as a diet". Views, people?

  • RichMartin FreeweightsAndSpeed. says:

    What is meditation though

  • Martina Micflyy says:

    https://youtu.be/sluNuVp2_TE

  • wad mad says:

    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

  • Don Corleone says:

    Help people to make money from meditating. Then see how it takes off.

  • afif narindra yogarajasa says:

    Solution for world problem

  • Reptilian alien says:

    Ok but, does it also work for people with anxiety disorders or only people without them?

  • David Bow Wow says:

    The internet is the opposite of everything he's saying.

  • Asolar says:

    now the deal is … how to meditate?

  • Goddamn it YouTube Let me change my name says:

    Oh my god is that George W Bush

  • WULLUM says:

    looking at his skin makes my face hurt. dude should lay off the razor.

  • STUDY WITH me says:

    Please I would request every one just say the Thank you India for once ..just a little gratitude

  • Quosain Memon says:

    This is dumb, total opposite of what it means to be a human.

  • Kube Dog says:

    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.

  • AJ Marr says:

    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

  • Emilio Cus says:

    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.

  • R D says:

    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

  • Michael Danielson says:

    Meditation will lead to suicide

  • Kyle D says:

    Well taking the meds your doctor prescribes may not be the best thing for you..

  • Sameer Pawar says:

    If the richest 4000 people start meditating on earth world poverty would end in 1 year.

  • ConfucianScholar says:

    Meditation supernaster here.

    Meditation is a way to hack your brain. No new age bullshit to it.

  • 42 says:

    This video is 5 years old!

  • Jack Barnes says:

    You can also take psychedelic drugs.

  • beech says:

    And how do I meditate?

  • Enrique Thompson says:

    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 ?

  • A M says:

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

  • Marcelo Miceli says:

    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.

  • Marcelo Miceli says:

    Tip. Pranayam (breathing control) helps A LOT

  • Moulay Otman El Bourki says:

    WE MUSLIMS WE PRAY 5 TIMES A DAY GET A GOOD LIFE BY BEING A MUSLIM

  • kingof206 says:

    I always feel better after meditating.. trying to make it a habit

  • William Lackey says:

    How can I learn to meditate?

  • Eugene Romanov says:

    4 years later and he is 100% correct

  • Berk Çimen says:

    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

  • Ayush Shukla says:

    Without an inward step there can be no true religion.

  • David Fenton says:

    Dan Harris is hot!!!

  • Balboa Baggins says:

    Fun fact: people familiar with this subject already knew this for thousands of years.

  • Piotr D says:

    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.

  • Compos Mentis says:

    Said with zero pretense. Refreshing.

  • Ben Simpson says:

    Who is going to be meditating? Is it the ego doing it because it wants the results?

  • Tate Hamilton says:

    Christians are to meditate on The Word

  • ZzZodiacZz says:

    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

  • Lucien Tian says:

    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".

  • BISHO KHATTAR says:

    Meditation is the new hypnotism for a perfect rat race

  • Saurabh Haldwani says:

    i meditated for 20min after listening to him…

  • Jeffrey Elliott says:

    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.

  • Sagar Parmar says:

    Indian Wisdom.

  • Jishan2511 says:

    I thought hacking is bad

  • Inferior x says:

    sadhguru always talk about this which is true

  • Dev Jaiswal says:

    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.

  • shawn burnham says:

    1

  • Imre Pető says:

    What is meditation?

  • Carpenter Family says:

    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.

  • junktube4000 says:

    Rotfl, “Take the meds your doctor prescribes you, it’s a no brainer.” No thanks.

  • Evemix says:

    How do u meditate though

  • ciaran delaney says:

    Waay over rated. Read a book.

  • Jay Cockerham says:

    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.

  • Rob Satanta says:

    I love meditating, that feeling of "floating off into cosmic ooze" is exquisite.

  • The Rockall Times says:

    Buddhism gives you the competitive edge.

  • Where's my wallet?! says:

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

  • GLA-GLA ODEMWINGIE says:

    Thanks man

  • DWNtoERTH says:

    Day 30 of Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. Yes. There’s everything in the nothing

  • Dhiraj Malapati says:

    Indians created meditation. Proud to be Indian.

  • ENXJ says:

    Nope, meditation isn't going to catch on. It's too gay.

  • Peter BeginnerDad says:

    where are those gray matter areas that are responsible for stress that shrink in medication?

  • Magd Bilal says:

    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.

  • Yabancı says:

    What if I also hate where I am now..

  • Tim Timmy says:

    LSD also deactivates/quiets the default mode network.

  • Mohammed Raei says:

    Loved the book.

  • ZuRriX says:

    👌🏼.

  • Maarten Evertzen says:

    For me taking psychedelics did the trick. 😊

  • Rex Luminus says:

    He has not a clue what meditation is all about ! * This is only pre meditation technick.

  • Isaac Rivera says:

    Off brand Sam Harris

  • Vazazell says:

    I don't feel guilty about excersing and teeth brushing. Why would i?

  • Buddhadev Murumkar says:

    Buddha !

  • Kris Poorman says:

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

  • Ushiab says:

    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.

  • Livan Grijalva says:

    I love that this sort of thing is getting far more understanding these days.

  • MattieCooper says:

    Meditation is essential for my mental and physical health.

  • Michael Mike says:

    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

  • Anne Baker says:

    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.

  • Mazuzu 212 says:

    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/

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