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If you asked me 4 years ago what I thought about the freedom of speech, politics, immigration, and where on the political spectrum I stood, I would laugh and walk away.
I thought politics was dumb and people who were interested in it were pretentious, and don’t even get me started on what I would say if the topic of morality would come up. Why would I think about all of that?
Luckily, I realized the importance of being interested in these topics due to becoming an avid listener of the Making Sense podcast (then called Waking Up). On it, Sam had conversations with people of all backgrounds, views and beliefs.
Yes, he is a well-known debater and I did listen to him when I realized there is no God, but I loved his content more when he talked about free speech and meditation.
I support free speech for everyone and believe conversations between people who disagree are crucial to make progress in society precisely because of Sam and the people he has on his podcast.
Because of him, I also spent months thinking about the morality of abortion, whether or not we have free will, and how to approach the topic of illegal immigration.
Above all, I became more invested in my future, the government in my country and how to think for myself, not what my preferred political party says I should be or do.
But if I have to go with just one thing that I do because of Sam Harris, I have to go with meditation.
You see, before I declared myself an atheist, I was a part of the New Age movement. I meditated often but it was all with the intention of being able to hear God. Honestly, I have a hard time coming up with something that I wasn’t doing for him.
When I got my hands on the book Sam wrote, titled Waking Up, it was the first time I realized that I can meditate for myself and no one else. It also hit me that I actually can have a spiritual practice as an atheist (and a sceptic).
Imagine the relief in being able to keep at least one thing from my previous life knowing that even though I was doing it for the wrong reasons, at least there is science behind it.
The book soon became my favourite non-fiction material and I highlighted at least one sentence on every page. I loved the studies they did to learn more about our consciousness and the way Sam marries science with Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta.
He writes as a sceptic to other sceptics. It’s not woo-woo, it’s wow-holy-cow-this-is-amazing.
Another thing I love about it is that it’s pretty much the only book I know of that talks about New Age and gurus. All of my favourite sceptics talk about religions but rarely do I hear them mention gurus and non-religious worship.
It feels so good to finally have a book that talks about my experience with having faith and believing in the supernatural.
Balancing reading the book and listening to Sam having conversations with the likes of Joseph Goldstein on his podcast, slowly motivated me to start a regular meditation practice in late 2017.
To this day, a few years after I got hooked on listening to Sams’s voice every day telling me to focus on my breath and look for the one who is looking, I still feel like a beginner.
I am constantly going through Waking Up (both the book and the app), learning about the benefits of the practice and how to make the most out of it. I look at it as a mental workout, and you know that you have to keep doing the same thing every single day to see the results.
Waking Up is my go-to book to wake up from the negativity, stress and overwhelm.