Sam Harris is known as one of the four horsemen - including Dennitt, Dawkins and Hitchens.  They are all proponents of science and reason.


Sam Harris has a blog and this is his latest blog post:


I was interested to hear his answer to the second question regarding his experiences travelling in India in his 20's and the impact that's had on his life.  He still meditates and promotes a type of meditation called Vipassana and then details the benefits he sees from practising this meditation.


I'm really interested in having a discussion on Meditation.


What are your thoughts about Meditation?

Have you ever practiced mediation?

Is it compatible with science and reason?

Could it be beneficial to our lives?


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Replies to This Discussion

Interesting.  I've always had supernatural associations with meditation.  I think I'd like to try it.  I'm just not sure how to go about it in a secular way.



..I 'practice" meditation daily, throughout the day and at night..inner and outer meditation, walking meditation..when I'm jogging and/or swimming laps in the pool, walking the dog in the morning and after dinner..I don't know about the compatibility part, but meditation is part of my lifestyle, kinda like my filter of sensing Science and Reason are ways of looking at, sensing reality..Yes it can be beneficial unless meditation interferes with perception of reality,,"It takes a clear mind to make it" as a stoned David Lindley slurred on the Jackson Browne "Running on Empty" album..

In my opinion..People with Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar, PTSD need to consult their therapist prior to, during and after doing this stuff..Too much introspection is not a good thing..Once you get stuck inside your mind, you'll be having recursive thoughts about thought about thoughts about thoughts and reflecting on reflections..
I think though that most meditations are focused on something - so it's not about thinking about thinking - but about focusing on a flower or a poem or your own breath or other such focus.
I have OCD, with the accompanying (very useful) symptom, racing thoughts.  My mind never shuts down.  Meditation is useless and impossible for me.
OCD - cutting down on wheat and other grain products - eating more meat and veg and fruit and taking a pro biotic will cut down the over active thoughts - too many histamine's are generated by bacteria in the gut, and they cause the mind to rush - I have the same thing - OCD, depression, anxiety, bi-polar - I manage it all with diet and probiotics.  I've sorted out the depression now - I think that was a lack of b vitamins generated by good bacteria and my racing mind is mostly manageable these days and doesn't overwhelm my life like it used to do.  If I go off grains totally and only eat meat and veg my mind slows right down - OCD is sort of addictive - I felt quite board or flat - and wanted some more mental action - but it's good now that I can manage it and know what causes it.  Stress also has an effect, as well as natural hormonal cycles - but if I eat lots of grains and sugar I go off the rails.
No, it's not diet-based.  OCD is a psychotic disorder.  The racing thoughts are just one of the manifestations of that.  While diet and other things may cause the symptom, for those with OCD, it's a constant state.
Joseph - I highly recommend a book to you - by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride - called 'Gut and Psychology Syndrome'. This sort of thinking about mental health disorders is gaining more and more traction as they are getting results that psychiatrists can't. Long ago before pharmaceutical drugs, diet was the main thing looked at and used to manage mental health problems. It is a fact that there is a strong relationship for example between irritable bowel syndrome and schizophrenia. She has all the science in her book and explains how it all works very clearly. She has a degree in medicine, and post graduate qualifications in nutrition and psychology. She has been practising for over 20 years with much success in the UK.

I already take pro-biotics, not for any medical reason, but just on general principle, from time to time.  I've also been low starch on a periodic basis ... not with more meats, obviously, since I'm a vegetarian, but with legumes and dairy products.

I've never noticed any difference.  I'll pay more attention the next time I go for a while without any grains, but I doubt it has any impact.  I have a fantastic digestive tract, with no irregularities in ... damned if I even know how long ... many years.

I was brought up vegetarian - and had OCD as a child. At around 20 I became vegan. My mental health went down hill from there.. paranoia and OCD, anxiety and depression. I had a health crisis at about 30 and did lots of research on a blood autoimmune problem - then I started eating meat - and taking probiotics - after 18 months I was a different person. I've started eating wheat and sugar again and it effects me badly - but it's a challenge to stay on the strict diet. It's really worth looking into it - start with her book - she's a smart lady. When you've read the book, I'll really be keen to hear your thoughts.

I wasn't raised vegetarian.  My mental health is much better now than it was back when I ate meat, up until my teens and early 20's.


I'll check out the book, though.  You just have to realize that there's a huge range for digestive profiles, within the human species.  It's like a lactose-intolerant person making a blanket statement that milk is bad for all people.  Oh, sure, it's bad for you.  My system handles it just fine, and it's a great source of protein.


Any study of food that doesn't make allowances for individual variation is going to be limited.

sure .... : )

Actually, meditation is a skill that will be very beneficial for the racing mind.  Fortunately, you don't have to start out skilled....the more you practice the better.   Focusing for a minute on your breathing, or 30 seconds.  That's it.  the more opportunities you take to attempt it, the better you'll get.  I suffered for years with racing mind, and now have long periods where I am comfortable just sitting and being in my own skin.


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