Published October 2022 on YouTube

How Meditation Works & Science-Based Effective Meditations | Huberman Lab Podcast #96

1. Meditation

Andrew Huberman discusses the science of meditation, including the different types of meditation practices and their effects on the brain and body. He explains how meditation can be used to alleviate symptoms of depression, enhance focus, and improve sleep, and offers tips for choosing the right meditation practice to achieve specific goals.+

2. Meditation and Nootropics

Meditation Practices:Andrew discusses various meditation practices and how they can be directed towards specific goals. He also talks about a specific form of meditation that can reduce the need for sleep while enhancing cognitive and physical abilities.+
Personalized Nootropics:Andrew discusses how Thesis can design a kit of custom nootropics for individuals based on their needs, such as creativity, motivation, focus, and energy. Use code Huberman at checkout to get 10% off your first box. Title: High-Quality Performance Eyewear Topics: Eyeglasses, Sunglasses, Performance Summary: Andrew talks about ROKA's high-quality eyeglasses and sunglasses designed for performance and everyday wear. They offer crystal clear vision and lightweight frames that won't slip off during sweaty activities. Use code Huberman at checkout to save 20% off your first order. Title: Momentous Supplements Topics: Supplements, Livemomentous Summary: Andrew mentions that the Huberman Lab podcast is now partnered with Momentous supplements, and the library of supplements is constantly expanding. Visit to find the supplements discussed on the podcast.+

3. Meditation Benefits

Meditation Benefits:Andrew discusses the history of meditation and how it wasn't until the 90s that there were studies on its benefits. He talks about the many thousands of studies on meditation and their mechanistic basis, such as brain imaging studies and changes in hormones in the body.+
Psychedelics and Meditation:Andrew explains how the conversation about consciousness, psychedelics, and meditation started in the 1960s and 1970s, and how it has evolved over time. He discusses the split between psychedelics and meditation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and how it took a while for the scientific community to embrace the conversation about meditation.+
Benefits of Meditation:Andrew discusses the various benefits of meditation and how it can lead to a dozen or more clear benefits. He also talks about specific changes that happen in the brain with different types of meditation, such as focusing inward or outward, and how these practices can be invoked in daily life to benefit individuals in specific ways.+

4. Neuroscience of Meditation

Neuroscience of Meditation:Andrew explains how different brain areas are affected during meditation and how specific elements of a meditation practice can manipulate these areas. He focuses on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which has an incredible ability to control bodily senses and interpret emotions and bodily sensations.+
Brain Interpretation:Andrew explains how the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is responsible for interpreting bodily signals, such as heart rate and breathing, and how it works in conjunction with the anterior cingulate cortex. This area of the brain is critical for making sense of what's going on in your body and making good decisions based on that interpretation.+
Brain's Conversation:Andrew explains how the brain structures like ACC, insula, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are in a constant neural conversation to interpret bodily sensations and external stimuli to determine whether or not they make sense.+
Mindfulness and Bodily Awareness:Andrew discusses the concept of mindfulness and how it relates to being present in the moment and aware of bodily sensations. He also explores how our thoughts and anticipation of the future can impact our bodily state in the present.+

5. Neural Effects of Meditation

Neural Effects of Meditation:Andrew explains how meditation affects neural circuits in the brain and body. He breaks down a generic meditation practice into its different component parts and addresses what we know for sure about the brain activation states that occur with those different component parts. He also discusses how closing our eyes during meditation is a profound shift in the way that our brain and other neural circuits in our body function.+
Perception's Spotlight:Andrew explains how perception is like a spotlight that can be broad or narrow, and how we can split or merge our attention. He also discusses how we can consciously adjust the acuity of our perception and how it is under our control due to our ability to engage the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.+

6. AG1 (Athletic Greens)

Andrew shares his personal experience with Athletic Greens, a vitamin mineral probiotic drink that he has been taking since 2012. He emphasizes the importance of gut health and how probiotics in Athletic Greens are optimal and vital for microbiotic health. Andrew also mentions that Athletic Greens contains a number of adaptogens, vitamins, and minerals that make sure all of his foundational nutritional needs are met. Listeners can try Athletic Greens by going to and receive five free travel packs and a year's supply of vitamin D3+K2.+

7. Interoception vs. Exteroception

Perception Continuum:Andrew explains the two ends of the perception continuum: interoception and exteroception. By shutting down one of the major avenues for sensory input, which is vision, our perceptual spotlights are focused more on what happens at the level of the surface of our skin and inside of our bodies.+
Interoception and Meditation:Andrew explains how closing our eyes and focusing on our breathing or third eye center shifts our perception from exteroception to interoception, which activates the ACC and insula regions of our brain. This shift is important for transitioning into a meditative state.+
Body Awareness:Andrew discusses the importance of being aware of one's bodily sensations and how it can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the circumstance. He also talks about the continuum of perception between interoception and exteroception and how different types of meditation practices can affect it.+

8. Mind Wandering and Happiness

Interoception and Exteroception:Andrew discusses the continuum of interoception and exteroception and how they affect our social interactions. He also talks about the benefits of meditation in moving along this continuum and describes a classic study on the default mode network.+
Time Domains:Andrew explains how human beings can split their thoughts and memory into different time domains, such as the past, present, and future. He also discusses the default mode network and how it is active when the mind wanders between these different time domains. Andrew shares insights from the classic paper, "A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind," which explores how humans spend a lot of time thinking about events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or will never happen at all.+
Wandering Minds:Andrew discusses a landmark study that shows how frequently people's minds wander and how it affects their happiness. The study found that people's thoughts were a better predictor of happiness than their activities, and people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were not.+
Unhappiness and Mind Wandering:Andrew discusses a study that found people are often not present in the moment, leading to unhappiness even if their thoughts are positive. He emphasizes the importance of being fully engaged in the present moment and how meditation and mindfulness can help achieve this, leading to improved mood and happiness.+

9. Interoception vs Exteroception

Interoception vs Exteroception:Andrew suggests a simple test to determine whether you are more interoceptively or exteroceptively dominant, which can help you choose the right type of meditation. He also emphasizes the importance of being able to focus your attention on both internal and external stimuli.+
Enhancing Meditation Practice:Andrew discusses how to enhance your meditation practice by focusing on either interoceptive or exteroceptive awareness, depending on your current state. He suggests actively training up neural circuits by deliberately engaging a shift along the continuum and sliding along it to prevent defaulting to the easiest option.+
Effective Meditative Practice:Andrew explains how meditative practices can be made more effective by going against the grain of our default mode network. He encourages listeners to embrace discomfort and challenge in their meditative practice, and to actively suppress their bias towards being more interoceptive or exteroceptive.+

10. Meditation's Benefits

Meditation's State and Trait Changes:Andrew discusses the benefits of meditation and how it can lead to both state and trait changes in the brain. He recommends doing an interoceptive, exteroceptive bias assessment before meditating to determine which type of meditation would be most effective. He also recommends the book "Altered Traits" by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson for further reading on the topic.+
Refocusing in Meditation:Andrew discusses the importance of refocusing in meditation, whether it's interoceptive or exteroceptive based. He explains that the more times you have to yank yourself back into attending or perceiving one specific thing, the more effective the practice is. Rather than focusing on your ability to focus, focus on your ability to refocus, as each time you refocus, you're going up one more level, another stair, another stair, another stair.+

11. Benefits of Short Meditations

Andrew discusses the benefits of short meditations, citing studies that show even just three minutes of meditation can have positive effects on attention and perception. He also recommends the Waking Up app, which offers a variety of short meditations and includes descriptions of what each meditation can do for you.+

12. Third Eye and Perception

The Third Eye:Andrew explains the history and function of the pineal gland, also known as the third eye. He discusses its role in releasing melatonin and how it responds to light in different animals.+
The Third Eye:Andrew explains why the pineal gland is not the third eye, but rather the prefrontal cortex is the seat of consciousness and intention. He also discusses the effects of inactivating the prefrontal cortex on behavior and judgment.+
Perception and Attention:Andrew explains how our brain lacks sensory neurons and how focusing our attention on the prefrontal cortex, which has no sensation, can increase the prominence of our thoughts, emotions, and memories in our perception. He also discusses how this happens during meditative practices.+
Enhancing Presence:Andrew explains that to stop thinking, we need to focus on external sensations. By being mindful of what's happening around us, we can enhance our sense of well-being and happiness. Most people have an interoceptive bias, which means they focus more on what's going on internally than what's happening externally.+

13. Meditation Practice

Andrew discusses the importance of assessing where you are along the interoception-exteroception continuum and suggests doing a meditation biased towards the opposite end to build up that set of circuits. He also shares the benefits of a daily 13-minute meditation and emphasizes the importance of consistency in meditation practice.+

14. Breathwork Benefits

Breathwork Benefits:Andrew discusses the benefits of breathwork and how it can be incorporated into a meditation practice. He specifically mentions the Wim Hof method, which involves cyclic hyperventilation and generates adrenaline release to heat up the body. While not typically considered a form of meditation, breathwork can have meditative components and provide numerous benefits for the mind and body.+
Deliberate Breathing:Andrew explains the importance of deliberate breathing during meditation and how it can shift our perception towards interoception. By controlling the depth and cadence of our breath, we can shift our brain state and reap the benefits of meditation.+

15. Breathwork Basics

Breathing for Meditation:Andrew explains how to use breathwork to achieve the desired state of mind during meditation. By adjusting the length and vigor of inhales and exhales, you can become more alert or relaxed.+
Breathwork Basics:Andrew explains how the duration and vigor of inhales and exhales affect the nervous system. Longer exhales and active exhales can help relax the body, while longer inhales and vigorous inhales can increase alertness. He also discusses the effects of noncyclic breathing practices on attention.+
Breathwork and Meditation:Andrew discusses how breathwork can be a form of meditation and how deliberate breathing patterns can affect our focus and awareness. He also highlights the importance of interoceptive and exteroceptive awareness in breathwork and meditation practices.+

16. Meditation Continuum

Meditation Practices:Andrew discusses the benefits of meditation and the different brain and body changes that occur during a meditation practice. He also introduces a third component, the continuum between interoception and dissociation, which he and Dr. Spiegel are working to formalize through research.+
Dissociation and Interoception:Andrew discusses how dissociation is commonly associated with traumatic events, but it can also be a lack of bodily awareness. Interoception is the process of perceiving what's happening within the body, and the optimal place to reside on the continuum between interoception and dissociation is somewhere in the middle.+
Mental Continuums:Andrew discusses how our ability to dissociate or be interoceptive affects our experiences and mental health. He explains how meditation can help us find a balance between these two states and improve our focus.+

17. Mental Health Continuum

Mental Health Continuum:Andrew explains the ideal mental health state as a ball bearing at the base of a V-shaped continuum, where interoception and dissociation are perfectly balanced. However, in reality, mental health is more of a U-shaped continuum where the ball bearing can shift towards interoception or dissociation depending on external factors, but it's not extreme.+
Mental Health Continuum:Andrew explains the mental health continuum that spans from interoceptive awareness to dissociation, where the extremes are pathologic and somewhere in the middle is healthier. He also discusses the practices that bias us towards being in the middle by default.+

18. Sleep, Meditation, and Rational Practice

Sleep and Meditation:Andrew explains how sleep and meditation can affect our mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation can make us feel exhausted and labile, while quality sleep can put us in a healthier place. Regular meditation can help us become more aware of our internal and external experiences and teach us to move along the continuum between dissociation and interoceptive awareness.+
Rational Meditation:Andrew explains how meditation can make things worse if not practiced correctly. He emphasizes the importance of assessing whether you are interoceptively or exteroceptively biased before starting a meditative practice. He provides solutions to the problem and suggests doing the opposite of where your bias lies.+

19. Better Sleep with Meditation

Better Sleep:Andrew explores the relationship between meditation and sleep. He shares a study that shows how brief daily meditation can improve attention, memory, mood, and emotion regulation. Additionally, he discusses how meditation can help reduce the total amount of sleep needed.+
Sleep and Meditation:Andrew discusses the relationship between sleep and meditation, and how regular meditation can reduce overall sleep need by reducing stress and cortisol levels. The idea is controversial, but some studies have shown that doing two 20-minute sessions per day can lead to deeper sleep or a reduced need for sleep.+
Yoga Nidra Benefits:Andrew discusses the benefits of Yoga Nidra and NSDR for improving sleep and reducing stress. These practices have been shown to replenish neuromodulators and reduce cortisol levels, making them a useful tool for those with chronic insomnia or difficulty sleeping.+
Sleep and Meditation:Andrew discusses the benefits of different types of meditation practices for improving sleep and overall well-being. While yoga nidra and NSDR are ideal for replenishing lost sleep, traditional meditation practices can help adjust the default mode network towards more happiness and mindfulness.+

20. Choosing a Meditation Practice

Andrew discusses the importance of choosing a regular meditation practice and how to determine which type of meditation is best for your current state of mind. He covers topics such as interoception and exteroception, cyclic breathing, and the difference between meditation and hypnosis.+

21. Tool: Space-Time Bridging (STB)

Space-Time Bridging:Andrew introduces a meditation practice called Space-Time Bridging (STB) that incorporates all the features he discussed in the previous chapters. STB balances interoception and exteroception, interoception and dissociation, and crosses the various time domains that the brain can encompass using vision. It's a simple meditation that can lead to interesting insights both during and outside the meditation.+
Interoception and Exteroception:Andrew shares a meditation exercise that alternates between focusing on internal and external sensations. By splitting attention between interoception and exteroception, one can cultivate a greater awareness of their surroundings and their internal state. The exercise involves focusing on the breath, the palm of the hand, a distant object, the Earth, and the universe.+
Perception Continuum:Andrew explains the benefits of stepping through different locations along the interoceptive-exteroceptive continuum during meditation. By deliberately placing your perception back into pure interoception, you exercise the ability to place your perception at specific locations along the continuum, which is useful for being functional in work, life, relationship, and all aspects, including your ability to fall asleep.+
Interoceptive Awareness:Andrew discusses the benefits of interoceptive meditation for those who are uncomfortable with feeling their internal state and need to bring in more awareness. He encourages listeners to try the practice and mentions future episodes where he will sit down with experts to discuss other features of meditation practices.+

22. Supporting the Huberman Lab

Andrew encourages listeners to support the Huberman Lab podcast by subscribing to their YouTube channel, leaving a review on Spotify and Apple, and checking out their sponsors. He also invites listeners to engage with the podcast by leaving comments and suggesting future guests.+