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Meditating by Sitting Still for 30 Minutes

Naval is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. Asides from these cooperate labels he’s also been described by Shane Parrish of Farnam Street as an incredibly deep thinker who challenges the status quo on so many things*.

When Naval was questioned, in an episode of The Knowledge Project podcast, about how and when he realized that he could control how he respond to or interpret situations, he made reference to an Osho lecture which talks about why people do drugs: to control their mental state, how they react. Some people, he said, drink because then they don’t care as much … they do psychedelics so they can feel very present or connected to nature or what have you.

He went further suggesting new and better techniques for mind control:

“To some extent, we already know that we can control our internal state. We just use external bioactive substances to do it. Now, there are a lot more techniques that are out there in the public domain, many of them dug up from older times. These range from cognitive therapy and behavioral psychology, to meditation to taking long walks in nature. You can control your mental state. It’s just we’re used to doing it by hacking our external circumstances to then come back around and control our mental state. For example, there’s a famous line that says that, “All of man’s problems arise because he can’t sit by himself in a room for 30 minutes”.

Obviously this applies to women, too. Exactly. If a man or a woman can sit by themselves on a cushion for 30 minutes, and it’s hard, it’s really hard to do, that’s meditation, you are essentially struggling with and controlling your internal state.

The first thing to realize is that you can actually observe your mental state. The advantage of meditation is not that you’re suddenly going to gain the superpower to control your internal state, it’s that you will recognize just how out of control your mind is. It is like a monkey flinging feces, that’s running around the room, making trouble, shouting, breaking things. It’s completely uncontrollable. It’s an out-of-control mad person.

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You have to see this mad creature in operation before you feel a certain distaste towards it and you start separating yourself from it. In that separation is liberation. When you realize that, “Oh, I don’t want to be that person. Why am I so out of control?” Just that awareness alone calms you down.”

You can listen to Naval’s full interview with Shane Parrish on The Knowledge Project.

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