The Superhuman State: Meditation In Action
I first realised the effects of meditation 4 years ago while I was at work.
I used to feel anxious a lot of the time at the office. I was afraid of talking to people. I often stumbled through sentences that made no sense because I was trying to say something cool. I’d hide around corners so I didn’t have to talk to people in the hallways.
Then one day I just felt good. I walked right up to the hottest girl in the office and started a conversation. I asked about her weekend plans… it was no big deal.
It hit me later that I hadn’t felt anxious while doing it. Highly unusual. Then I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I HAD felt anxious. I felt awesome. I was comfortable talking to anyone!
I’d starting meditating daily 2 months earlier.
Check out this article by Comfort Pit. Seriously, read it now. It lists 26 scientifically proven superhuman benefits of meditation. I tasted a few.
My superhuman high lasted for a whole month. Then somehow I lost it and went back to my usual sometimes-anxious self. The benefits were more sporadic after that.
The Frustration Of Meditation
I’d kept meditating for 20 minutes daily but often struggled to hit the superhuman state.
- Guided meditations
- Group classes
- Hand movements
- Tai chi
Each new thing worked for a while, then it stopped working. My mind got distracted and I beat myself up over it.
Other meditators have told me they’ve gone through a similar frustration phase. I think it’s because I was TRYING to feel superhuman. I was focused on an outcome instead of just being aware of what was happening in the moment.
It still worked sometimes, though. And I had a handful of crazy-awesome experiences that I still can’t explain.
A few times while meditating I felt an earth-shattering, whole-body orgasm build up in my spine: heart racing, heavy breathing, whole body tingling. It felt like my universe was going to explode. I chickened out and it fizzled out. If anyone can explain to me what the hell was going on, I’m ALL ears. And no, I didn’t touch myself.
Anyway I’d had a taste of the superhuman state and I’ve been meditating for 4 years since.
Here’s why it works.
Mind Settings: Aware Vs Autopilot
Your conscious mind has 2 settings:
Daniel Kahneman refers to them as System 2 and System 1 in Thinking, Fast and Slow. Read it if you want to learn how to make good choices (and why you sometimes make the wrong choices).
If you don’t have a mindfulness practice (like meditation) you’re probably on autopilot most of the time. You’ve probably only caught glimpses of ‘aware’ while playing sport, drawing, reading… activities where your worries fade away.
Your autopilot settings are built on emotions (not logic) from past experiences. If something feels good your autopilot learns to want more. If something feels bad your autopilot learns to avoid it. That’s why you can’t seem to stick to an exercise program, or stop yourself from finishing the bucket of ice-cream.
Your autopilot isn’t deliberately working against you, it just values the feeling of a face-full of ice-cream more than the feeling of being healthy.
You can’t change your autopilot thinking when you’re on ‘autopilot’. You CAN change it from your ‘aware’ setting.
First you have to get out of ‘autopilot’… through meditation.
Becoming Superhuman Through Meditation
How many slow, deep in-and-out breaths can you count before you get distracted by a random autopilot thought? 10 would be impressive. You’ll probably struggle to get 5. Whatever that count is, that’s how long you can stay ‘aware’.
Meditation lets you extend that awareness to 10, 15, 20 minutes, even hours. That might be hard to believe because you’ve always been on autopilot, like the rest of us. The good news is you can train your mind just like going to the gym.
Your brain literally gets bigger, just like your muscles at the gym. It’s not magic. You’re just training the muscle of “learning how to pay attention”.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger trained this muscle. He says meditation fundamentally changed his life. He used it to kill anxiety, focus more, calm down… and look at just some of his credentials:
- Real estate millionaire
- Mr. Olympia (7 times)
- The Terminator
- Governor of California
(Check out his podcast interview with Tim Ferriss where he talks about this).
When you expand your awareness through meditation you loosen your autopilot’s control over you. You notice its neurotic thoughts and can choose how you react to them. You get access to hidden processes that you didn’t realise were running in the background.
You become an immovable rock in a river. Your thoughts swim over you but do not stop unless you choose to stop them.
This might all be hard to imagine, because it’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it.
Just know this: extending your awareness to even 1-2 minutes will have a huge impact on your life. It’ll give you taste of superhuman.
Imagine approaching a hot girl or guy at a bar.
Autopilot setting: “What the hell are you doing?! You’re going to say something stupid. She’ll hate you. Don’t do it!”
Aware setting: My heart is racing (just noticing).
You don’t chicken out when you’re in ‘aware’ mode. You’re calmer because you’re not judging yourself. Your head is clear and your words flow.
Here’s a more extreme example – Thích Quảng Đức, the monk who burned himself alive.
Autopilot setting: “Ouch, this hurts! I need to do something about this!! Scream, maybe?”
Aware setting: There is pain (just noticing).
He never moved a muscle. Never uttered a sound. Imagine that kind of self-control. His mind must have been a peaceful place.
How To Meditate
There are many different ways, but I think this is the easiest to start with.
- Sit down somewhere quiet. Set a timer. Start with 5-minute sessions and gradually build up.
- Rest your attention on one thing that you see, hear, feel, smell or taste. This is your anchor (examples below).
- Your autopilot thoughts will appear (probably every couple of seconds at first).
- Smile at your thoughts, then go back to your anchor and let the thoughts swim by.
- Repeat this over and over again.
- Keep returning to your anchor. Your autopilot thoughts will start to appear less frequently.
- You may start to notice curious details about your anchor that you’ve never noticed before.
- If you’re relaxed enough you’ll eventually reach a point where you actually feel your pupils dilate. This is the ‘aware’ setting. Sit with it and enjoy how awesome you feel.
- You’ve started to become Superhuman.
- Keep meditating daily.
OR you can try this quick meditation hack.
Additional Tips For Becoming Superhuman Through Meditation
If the infographic doesn’t load, click here.
Years ago I meditated quite a bit and, while meditating, would start feeling vibration traveling up and down my spine. I got to the point where I could control the speed of the vibration. One night I spontaneously ‘awoke’ to this sensation of vibration. The vibration spontaneously got faster and when it reached a certain frequency the episode culminated in an ‘out of body’ experience. It was not unpleasant, however, it was a little unnerving so I stopped doing that type of meditation. Your blog is very informative and interesting. Thanks!
thnx you beard strocker you. i will definitely try this and let you know what impact it had made. I also read that it helps you to focus when trying to digest new knowledge. what are your thoughts on that?
You missed the Most Important Anchor.
The Sound Of Silence.
Our Inner Sound.
That Humming Sound that constantly run inside your head.
Some May call it Sound Tinnitus.
But that is the music of Existence.
In Hindu Culture it is termed as “Anahata Nada” means “Unstruck Sound”. Literally this means “the sound that is not made by two things striking together”
(Am i going too deep?)
You can also refer to the book “Nada Yoga” which means “Sound Yoga” for more insight.
Btw, great post Pete :)
You are always inspiring.
Wow, Pete you’re awesome dude!
I’ve heard a lot about, and tried medication couple of times but actually never worked out…never got how good it feels actually.
(Once I’ve read a whole long article over the neuroscience of meditation)
I’ve tried a few guided meditations but didn’t work as well.
This time I came across your meditation article with a big sigh, knowing again I can’t enjoy this apparently great meditation thing :(
But it REALLY worked this time! whoooh!!
I really felt something nice, relieving and felt soo free!
Thanks a lot! Keep up being amazing :))
This does not apply if one is in financial dire straits. There is no way that one can meditate when one doesn’t know where the next cent is coming from. Meditation is essentially workable only on those who actually don’t need it. How’s that for a conundrum?
I wonder why you said that going to 10 is an impressive feat. I went to 20 breaths before I got bored, and all I focused on was controlling and counting the breaths, and the oblivion in front of my closed eyes. (And I don’t usually meditate) I also find it worth mentioning that trying to focus just on a feeling that is not intensive to the passage of time would be better than an anchor which is. In my case, I’m practising for oblivion. The reason for stopping at 20 being that counting my breaths was intensive to the… Read more »
Fascinating! I’m just curious- how many times a day can this be done?
Excellent article! Love the infographic.
And thanks so much for the mention. :)
Sounds like the “full body orgasm” you experienced may have been kundalini. Do you hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth? I’ve read that doing so helps (or is necessary, I forget).
Hi Pete, Quick question. I quite like the idea of the sound of an instrument in a song you like. In fact what you describe here makes me think I’ve unintentionally taught myself to meditate that way already.
The only thing is that the particular instrument/song I’m thinking of only lasts about 4 minutes which is not long enough for the sessions you suggest building up to. Any suggestions? Should I try looping the song? Thinking about the sound in question? Maybe pick a different anchor?