In Episode #48, Jesse interviews Bill Harris, meditation guru, founder of The Centerpointe Research Institute, and creator of Holosync Audio Technology. Bill tells us how we can gain more self-awareness in order to exercise choice in our lives, and how Holosync Technology can get us on the fast track to deep-level meditation.
We also get a sneak peek at the U.S. Military’s plans to make soldiers smarter and learn that – from a neurological standpoint – a mother’s love for her child and her dog aren’t so different.
Key Terms Mentioned
- The Centerpointe Research Institute
- Holosync Audio Technology
- This Week in Neuroscience: The U.S. Military’s Quest to Boost IQ
- What Happens in Mothers’ Brains When They See Their Children… And Dogs?
Bill Harris: I have what most people say is a very unique take on the human condition that we're all trapped in and my solutions for how to deal with that. I start off by dividing things in a very grand big picture way into those things that you can't really exercise choice about and those things you can. So first of all we don't have a choice about all kinds of physical things like the sun, weather, gravity, volcanoes, the fact that we are sensitive creatures and can be injured easily and all those sorts of things. There's a whole bunch of stuff that's just sort of built into the universe that we don't have control over.
Another thing that we don't have control over is the fact that there are around 7 billion-ish other people on the planet and they all have their own individual agenda and dammit their agenda usually is at cross-purposes with ours. Some of these things you can mitigate of course. The first category wear warm clothes when it's cold or put on sunscreen - you know there are things you can do to mitigate the physical things, but you can't really control them. And the same thing for other people. There are things you can do to become more persuasive etc.
The third category is really the big one though and things you can't have a choice about. And that is that everything in the universe is impermanent, it's always changing. Things come into being and then they are there for a while and then they fall apart or end or die or something. And so we're kind of caught in this situation where there is a bunch of stuff about being human that we can't do much about. And it's really those things I think that make us want to do stuff like take smart drugs or do other kinds of biohacks to figure out strategies for how to deal with this situation we're in. And I thought for a long time about this - like what could you have a choice about and why could these things be a choice while others can't.
So the 2 criteria that I came up with for having a choice about something are that first of all it has to be something that you are creating, that you are generating. Obviously you're not generating the weather or what other people do and that's why you can't have a choice about them. So it has to be something that comes from you somehow. There's a lot of things people are creating that they don't really realize they're creating because it's going on outside their awareness and that brings me to the second criteria which is that in order to exercise choice about what you're creating, you have to have enough awareness. And very few people do. Usually the people who'd have that kind of awareness have been meditating or practicing zen or something like that for 30 plus years. There are though some hacks to that and that's ultimately where I'm going as to describe what that is.
This leads me sort of to my first really seminal principle, which is that, "Awareness creates choice." What you're aware of that you can watch yourself create as you create it; watch the internal processes that create it, not just the results. Those things can become a choice and the corollary to that is once you have a choice, this is what I've discovered in helping close to 2 million people do what I'm talking about here, is that once you have a choice you'll always choose what serves you. What is most resourceful and you'll drop doing whatever you've been creating unconsciously outside your awareness that is sabotaging you or that screws you up.
The next thing I thought about, so what is it that people are actually creating that they could have a choice about. And I came up with 4 categories of things.
1) The first one is how you feel or more broadly the internal states you experience. This is one of the things that biohackers are very interested in. They want to be more focused and be more creative and that sort of a thing. But it also would include whether or not you're anxious or depressed or happy or joyful or have good pattern recognition. All kinds of things like that.
2) The second category is how you behave and that would include of course, getting yourself to behave when you've decided that you want to but then you find that you're procrastinating or in some way not taking the action that you know you should take or you know you want to take. But it also would include things like not behaving in ways that create consequences that you later go, "Jeez! That was a dumb thing to have done."
3) The third category is having a choice about which people or situations you attract or become attracted to. In other words people based on internal cognitive stuff, they get attracted to certain kinds of people and certain kinds of situations. Or they give off cues that attract certain other people and sometimes it ends up being people and situations that turn out to be bad news. I went for years getting attracted to the same screwed up woman over and over but in a different body each time. My whole attraction thing was happening outside my awareness. So I was doing something that was not resourceful and I wouldn't have chosen. But as long as something is autopilot outside your awareness, it's not a choice. In order to be a choice it has to be something you're creating with awareness.
4) The fourth category is what meanings you assign to what's happening around you.
So the idea is that you can gain choice over these internal processes and cause their consequences (of those 4 things) to become increasingly a choice. I don't think you can ever get to a point where they are a 100% a choice but you can make them a choice to a huge degree if you can become aware enough. You have to create enough awareness.
Jesse: Yeah, it's like the difference between a regular person stepping into a car and driving to the supermarket and somebody that is like a formula 1 driver and knows what every hum of the car means as they're taking their turns and just has a whole other level of appreciation.
Bill Harris: Driving a car is an interesting metaphor in this case because you know when you first start to drive a car there's too many things to pay attention to. It's overwhelming because you're kind of in this conscious incompetent state where you see all the things you have to control but you don't know how to do it yet. But pretty soon you'll get the hang of it and then you can drive the car and eat a sandwich, change the radio, talk to somebody all at the same time, and it's no big deal.
Jesse: You were saying that awareness is the first of 2 very important steps and I think we derailed before I got to the second one.
Bill Harris: Well the second step is you need to know where to direct that awareness. What I found is that if someone let's say practices zen for 30 years, they begin to see these internal processes and how those internal processes create those 4 things that I mentioned. So here's the hack that I sort of accidentally discovered about 29 years ago now. I ran into 2 pieces of research that really changed my life and actually have now changed the lives of at least a couple of million people. The first one was in the 1970s The Menniger Clinic, they found out what electrical brain wave patterns meditators were making. So that was known in the '70s. Then I happened to run across this paper by this researcher at Mount Sinai medical center in New York, Manhattan - a Dr. Gerald Oster.
In this paper he was describing a characteristic of the brain, that when you presented it with certain pure sine wave tones, using headphones so that you could target certain ones to the left side of the brain, certain ones to the right side of the brain; that there were 2 organelles in the brain called the olivary nuclei that would communicate with each other. So the long and short of it was that he was describing without even saying anything about a potential use for it, that you could change somebody's brain waves in this way.
So anyway after absorbing these 2 pieces of research I said, "Hmmm - these are the brainwave patterns of meditation and here's a way to change brainwave patterns. Could we actually induce mediation in this way?" So I and a couple of friends got some equipment, I borrowed some equipment from the engineering lab at the University of Portland where I was a graduate student at the time and I bought believe it or not, some other equipment I needed, I can't even remember how I figured out what I needed but I bought some equipment from a catalog for television repairmen. I think it was a frequency counter. These days there' digital equipment that makes all this a lot easier to figure out. In fact this was the days of cassette tapes. This was before CDs even.
So at any rate I started making these cassette tapes in my laboratory in my basement and a couple of friends and I started listening to these. And I remember the first time we sat down, the three of us, kind of facing each other on the floor, listening to this. When it ended we kind of opened our eyes and we were like really stoned on our own neurochemicals and we looked at each other and one of the other guys said, "Are you feeling what I'm feeling?" It sort of blew our mind that we could just listen to this and be in like the deepest meditation we'd ever experienced. And then over a period of weeks and months not only were we experiencing having our mind blown by being in this super deep state, the kind of thing that even the most accomplished 30-year meditator would have trouble accessing. We were accessing it every day easily.
But what happened to me was my depression went away, my anger went away, my whole personality changed. I became more creative, my pattern recognition increased, my ability to focus and all that stuff, all these benefits that in the years since scientists have found are benefits that come to long-term meditators started to happen. And at about the 4 year point of doing this we had about a 150 people using this. Mostly in the United States but some were in Europe too and somebody came to me and said, "You know you should really create a structured way to use this and sell it." So I created this little company literally on my kitchen table in my house. It made a whooping $12,000 the first year and was a raging success. The second year I think it made $48,000 and the third year it made about $250,000. I sort of gradually learned about how to do a business and everything. This month is our 25 year anniversary. We have over 2 million in a 193 countries who've used this. We've sold about 150 million dollars worth of this and it's not that expensive either. So it's a lot of people have used this and benefited from it. So this technology the way I do it we call - Holosync - has really become quite a phenomenon in the personal growth field.
Jesse: One of my questions that I always come to with meditation related practices in general is that the benefits that people that really get into it feel, seem to be so absolutely positive, I wonder why is this not an absolute human universal?
Bill Harris: I know exactly what you're saying and I'm ashamed at myself for not having already addressed this. If you go to let's say like this biohacking conference that I was just at this last weekend; I bet that if I ask, "How many people know that meditation is amazing and that it does all these fantastic things for your mind and bla bla bla?" Pretty much everybody would raise their hand. And then if I said, "How many do it everyday?" Then 90% of the hands would go down. If people were being honest. Because specially in the beginning it's boring, it's hard. See when you use Holosync you're immediately in this amazing place, the first time you use it. When you learn to meditate on your own, that takes a long time to get to even a partial version of that. It's because your head is screwed up when you start. It takes a while for the neuroplasticity of that stimulus to kick in and change your neuroconnections in the brain and create all these new pathways between left and right side of the brain. And all these pathways between your pre-frontal cortex and your amygdala, so that you stop being an emotional nitwit and so on and so forth. So it's hard is the short answer. That's why Holosync is so amazing. We have found over the last 25 years (29 years if you count the original group of people who were experimenting) that this creates the same benefits as meditation but about 8 times faster and that it's pretty much effortless.
To connect the dots here, because I should do that too. I started off by talking about, "Awareness creates choice." So "Awareness creates choice" ... "Meditation creates awareness" ... "Holosync meditation creates it a lot faster."
Jesse: Let me ask you this. It sounds like the technologies related to meditation have really improved over the course of the last couple of decades. How come it is that some people still are doing meditative practices for hours upon hours today? Those people are like some sort of still the purists. What's their logic behind that?
Bill Harris: To tell you the truth when I first heard about this I was a purist and I pooh poohed the whole thing. Somebody gave a cassette tape in about 1985 that had like a 10 minute long version of a very crude form of this and gave it to me and said, "Here this is a technological way to create meditation." And I went, "Oh yeah, sure." And I put it in my jacket and I completely forgot it was there. I didn't even try it. And then three or four months later I put the same jacket on, put my hands in the pocket and went, "What's this? Oh it's that cassette about that hi-tech meditation scam." So then though I tried it and I went, "Whoa, something's happening here." Even though it was only 10 minutes long, it felt like a 45 minute meditation on a really good day. And then I spent 4 years playing with it and improving it and making it a lot more potent and figuring out lot of nuances about how it works and how to tweak it and so on.
So there are people that are purists, that are sort of fundamentalists you might say in meditation and they pooh pooh it. I was interested in results So anyway this is just a really cool way to hack your own mind and to create some really amazing stuff in your head, that ordinarily is really hard work to go. We have several different scientific studies on Holosync showing that it lowers cortisol, increases DHEA, increases melatonin levels, lowers anxiety, increases quality of life on certain scales and a number of other things. We haven't done as many studies on it as I would like to but all of them have been pretty impressive.
Jesse: What are your personal goals for your own cognition and development of Holosync technology further? What do want to have happen next?
Bill Harris: Well I want to keep having some cognition. I'll be 65 in January and really as a result of all the biohack stuff that I've done, I can do 150 push-ups and I'm hardly even breathing hard when I get done. But at any rate I just went through a really nasty divorce about 3 years ago which cost me about $5 million. It's been more stressful to be in business these last few years, with the economy being really crappy and that sort of stuff. So I've been under a lot of stress and I was beginning to feel, despite everything I was doing, a little brain foggish. And I began using Holosync more regularly because I really finished our whole program many years ago, like in 1992. So I was little more sporadic in using it. So I went back to using it everyday. Now I feel all together again. That experience really told me, "Don't take any of this for granted."
First of all and that I need to continue working to keep this at an optimum level. So I want to be as sharp as I possibly can. I have this giant matrix of information on many many subjects in my head. I'm a voracious reader and I've studied many many things and I like completing that huge flowchart of everything I know in my mind and there's a high you get from wrapping your head around that stuff. And then there's a whole another high you get when you put your mind in neutral and go into this other no-mind place, which is one of the goals of meditation. Where you're sort of transcending the mind and once you can kind of have a choice about what your mind creates, which is what I was talking about earlier, and then also be able to transcend the mind and go to that place where you feel that connection to everything else in the universe.
Introduction to Bill Harris and the Centerpointe Research Institute
This Week in Neuroscience: The U.S. Military's Quest to Boost IQ
iTunes Review thank-yous
Bill Harris, The Holosync Solution, and Jesse's comments on meditation
Bill's solutions for dealing with the human condition
The two criteria for whether or not you have a choice: creation and awareness
"Awareness creates choice"
Four categories of creation that we can learn to control
Driving a car as a metaphor for our own self-awareness and self-control
Bill's life-changing hack: Holosync Technology
Why is meditation not more commonly practiced?
"Meditation creates awareness"
Why do "purist" meditators still use traditional methods when technology exists that can speed up the process?
Benefits of Holosync Audio Technology
Bill's personal goals and next steps
Thank you to Bill and some love for fellow Oregonians
Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: What Happens in Mothers' Brains When They See Their Children... And Dogs?
Episode #49 teaser