Discover your mind.

Waking Up is a guide to understanding the mind, for the purpose of living a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Join Sam Harris—neuroscientist, philosopher, and New York Times best-selling author—as he explores the practice of meditation and examines the theory behind it.

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What makes Waking Up different?

There are hundreds of meditation apps on the market, and several do a fine job of teaching the basic principles of mindfulness. But most present the practice as though it were an ancient version of an executive stress ball—whereas it’s more like the Hubble Space Telescope.

The purpose of meditation isn’t merely to reduce stress or to make you feel better in the moment—it’s to make fundamental discoveries in the laboratory of your own mind.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with this app. Whether you want to sharpen your mind or experience more peace, this can help in dramatic fashion. The power of its progression is hard to overstate.”

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is an early-stage investor and the author of five #1 New York Times best sellers. He hosts the popular podcast The Tim Ferriss Show.

“Waking Up is, hands down, the most important meditation guide I've ever used. And having Sam lead these sessions is what makes them so effective for me.”

Peter Attia, M.D.

Peter Attia, M.D.

Peter Attia is a physician who focuses on the applied science of longevity. He trained at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“If you've had trouble getting into meditation, this app is your answer! Sam's thoughtful approach, calm voice, and depth of knowledge are extraordinary. The app will also launch you quite quickly into your own meditation practice. Thank you so much for creating this, Sam.”

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Susan Cain is a lecturer, bestselling author, and co-founder of Quiet Revolution. Her TED talk on the "power of introverts" has been watched over 20 million times.

Waking Up is structured around its two core principles:

You can PRACTICE meditation, and you can learn the THEORY behind the practice.

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Go beyond mere stress reduction to make profound discoveries about the nature of your own mind.

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Ground your meditation experience in practical wisdom, ethical insights, and a rational understanding of the world.

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The Fine Print

A Waking Up membership is $99.99 USD/year and includes access to all meditation practices, courses, and other resources. A Lifetime Membership is $499. Becoming a member is risk-free: If you don’t find it valuable, we will give you a full refund. No questions asked.

How We Help

As a company, Waking Up strives to help alleviate human suffering on many fronts. To that end, we donate a minimum of 10% of our profits to the most effective charities, under the guidance of Giving What We Can, Give Well, Founders Pledge and Longview Philanthropy.

Also, if you would like to become a member but truly cannot afford it, click here to learn about our scholarship program.

About Sam Harris

Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times best sellers, including Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.  His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics—neuroscience, meditation, moral philosophy, religion, rationality—but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Sam received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.  He has practiced meditation for over 30 years and has studied with many Tibetan, Indian, Burmese, and Western meditation teachers, both in the United States and abroad.

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Q&A with Sam

Much of our thinking about ourselves and the world is either pointless or actively harmful, because it’s so often borne of anxiety, envy, self-hatred, or other negative emotions, and in turn, it perpetuates those states of mind. Mindfulness allows you to experience your life in the present, without ruminating about what just happened, what should have happened, what almost happened, what might yet happen, etc. So the connection to happiness is very direct. At bottom, mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to what actually matters. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful productivity tool than that.
Unfortunately, we haven’t evolved to be happy. From the point of view of evolution, we were built to do nothing more than spawn—and to survive just long enough to ensure that our descendants do likewise. As social primates, linguistic thinking has been so useful that evolution never saw fit to build us an OFF switch. Once we begin understanding the speech of others, and producing speech ourselves, we helplessly internalize this conversation—which becomes an endless litany of hopes, fears, judgements, opinions—and we never get a moment’s peace for the rest of our lives. That is, until we learn to meditate.
It’s not the hardest step. It’s just the first. The next step is to turn these periods of meditation into significant experiences of non-distraction—so that you can notice what consciousness is like prior to thought. The goal isn’t to stop thinking. Rather, it’s to recognize thoughts as transitory appearances in consciousness. This may sound simple enough, but most people who try to meditate just wind up thinking with their eyes closed—and many come away thinking that the practice is pointless. That’s why guided meditations can be so helpful. They interrupt our incessant thinking and remind us to pay attention. When you truly know how to meditate, you discover that it isn’t really a practice at all. The freedom you feel isn’t the result of something you are doing; it’s the result of something you have stopped doing. So “practice” is nothing more than enjoying what the mind is like when it is no longer distracted.
Try this: See if you can pay attention to anything for the next 30 seconds—your breath, the sound of the wind in the trees, the sight of your child playing—without getting distracted by thoughts. If you attempt this experiment in earnest, you will find that you cannot do it. This should interest you, because all the fragmentation in your life starts here. Only training in meditation will allow you to change this very peculiar status quo.
Not all feelings of stress are counterproductive. What you really want is the freedom to let go of stress when it’s no longer useful. Consider what it’s like to work out at the gym: You voluntarily create intense physical stresses for yourself—running in place, repeatedly lifting heavy objects from the floor, etc.—because it’s good for you, and you’ve learned to enjoy it. But when you leave the gym, you physically relax. You don’t keep tensing your muscles and elevating your heart rate for no reason. Ideally, you should have a similar relationship to periods of psychological stress. Can you put down your 5-year plan so that you can actually enjoy dinner with your family? Not if you’re helplessly identified with every thought that comes lurching into consciousness.
We spend most of our time seeking to become happy, as though something important needs to be found, accomplished, or otherwise added to our experience in the present moment. We’re always solving problems—meeting deadlines, running errands, fulfilling desires, defending opinions, reacting to other people—and every implied end to our efforts reveals itself to be a mirage. The question of finding “meaning” in life is just a component of this search. We want to be able to tell ourselves a satisfying story about who we’ve been, who we are, and who we’re becoming. Of course, it makes sense to do whatever we can to secure a good life—to find satisfying work, to maintain our health, to form deep friendships, and to create a happy family. But it is also terrifying to have our well-being entirely depend upon the shifting sands of experience and the stories we tell ourselves. The great power of mindfulness is that it can reveal a sense of well-being that is intrinsic to simply being conscious in each moment. This is a deeper discovery than finding “meaning” in one’s life, though it is entirely compatible with it. Through mindfulness, we can discover that whatever we may seek to accomplish in life, we can never truly become happy. We can only be happy. Making this discovery, again and again and again, is the essence of the practice.
The ability to notice thoughts and emotions arise and pass away, rather than being merely identified with them, is a kind of superpower. It can be the difference between letting a surge of anger dissipate in a matter of seconds and acting on the basis of that anger in ways that derange your life. What difference might this make professionally? It can be the difference between having a brilliant career, surrounded by creative people who love working with you, and being the scary guy in the office who just got fired (again).