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AI Meditations: using Sam Harris as template for meditations

Claude did the analysis task as well or better than I had done it "manually" (ie using my brain). But annoyingly, Claude was 1000 times faster 😲.


Ok here was the simplistic experiment: create a template from a sample of Sam Harris meditations, and then let AI create meditations based on the "Sam Harris template"


If you wish, jump to the most interesting meditation


Image of a meditating head


Setup


I transcribed ca 20 of the ca 130 Daily Meditations in the Waking Up app. I used the AI based "Google Transcribe" App , and fed the collated text output to www.claude.ai.


Then I asked various AIs to generate a new meditation based on the template generated by Claude. Below you find the result of the structural analysis, and the new meditations by different AIs.



Differences between AI engines:


  • Layouts (e.g. headings, bullet points)

  • Degree of detail elaboration (with PI being the most evocative)

  • Format (PI structures the output as stepwise dialogue, not as a complete text)

  • Use of "we"/"our"

  • Tone (eg, Pi is annoyingly intrusive with its recurring "are you with me?", and its "encouraging" wow! and great! )

  • The way they approach specific instructions (e.g. for "dissolution" of the visual or kinesthetic sense)


Content:



Claude: Sam Harris´ meditation schema (Claude.ai)



"Based on the examples provided, Sam Harris' guided meditations tend to follow a similar general structure:


Introduction

  • Settle into a comfortable seated position, eyes closed

  • Take a few deep breaths

  • Set an intention or reflect on the purpose for practicing

Body sensations

  • Feel the weight and energy of the body

  • Let sensations dissolve into pure vibration/tingling

Breath awareness

  • Follow natural breath, often at abdomen or nose

  • Feel each inhalation and exhalation arise and pass

Sounds

  • Hear sounds in the environment

  • Notice their appearing and disappearing

Thoughts

  • Observe thoughts drifting through awareness

  • See them as clouds passing through open sky

Space of awareness

  • Recognize awareness as vast open space

  • Not limited to head or body

Self-inquiry

  • Look for the one aware, the observer, the "I"

  • Notice no solid self is found, just awake awareness

Instructions

  • Such as sitting still, not moving, etc.

Ending

  • Let go of all effort

  • Rest in natural state

  • Gratitude and dedication of practice

So in summary, there is generally:

  • Body scan

  • Breath awareness

  • Opening awareness to sounds

  • Observing thoughts

  • Inquiry into the nature of awareness

  • Specific instructions

  • and ending by letting go into natural presence

The meditations follow a similar arc while varying the specific instructions and metaphors. But they tend to move from bodily sensations to expansive awareness, and incorporate self-inquiry."


ChatGPT3.5: a template based meditation in the style of Sam Harris Daily Meditations


I then asked ChatGPT3.5 to generate a meditation based on the generic structure template provided by Claude.



"Welcome to this 10-minute meditation practice. Find a comfortable seated position, with your eyes gently closed. Take a few deep breaths, allowing each inhale to fill you with fresh energy and each exhale to release any tension or worries.

As we begin, set an intention or reflect on the purpose of your practice today. Maybe it's to find calm and relaxation, to explore the nature of your awareness, or simply to be present in this moment.

Let's start by bringing your attention to your body. Feel the weight and energy of your body as it rests in this space. Notice any sensations that arise—the gentle pressure of the chair or cushion beneath you, the temperature of the room, or any areas of tension or comfort.

Now, let these bodily sensations dissolve into a pure vibration, like ripples in a pond. Feel the subtle tingling and aliveness that permeates your entire body.

Shift your awareness to your breath. Follow the natural rhythm of your breath, whether it's at your abdomen or the tip of your nose. Be fully present with each inhalation and exhalation, feeling them arise and pass away like waves in the ocean.

Now, broaden your awareness to the sounds around you. Listen to the sounds in your environment without judgment or attachment. Notice how they appear and disappear, just like passing thoughts in the mind.

Speaking of thoughts, allow your attention to shift to the thoughts that may be drifting through your awareness. Observe them as if they were clouds passing through the vast open sky of your mind. There's no need to engage with them; simply let them come and go.

As we expand our awareness, recognize that your awareness itself is like a vast open space. It's not confined to your head or your body; it's boundless and all-encompassing.

Now, let's delve into self-inquiry. Look for the one who is aware, the observer, the "I." Search for a solid self, but notice that no such entity can be found—only awake awareness itself.

As we move towards the closing moments of this practice, remember any specific instructions you might have set for yourself at the beginning—whether it's to sit still, not move, or any other guidance you need to follow.

And now, it's time to let go of all effort. Release any need to control or direct your experience. Rest in your natural state of awareness, fully present in this moment.

Take a moment to express gratitude for this time you've dedicated to your practice. As you bring this meditation to a close, carry this sense of presence and mindfulness with you into the rest of your day.

Thank you for joining this meditation session. May your day be filled with peace, clarity, and mindful awareness."


 

Bing: a template based meditation in the style of Sam Harris Daily Meditation


I then asked ChatGPT4 (via Bing) to generate a meditation based on the generic structure template provided by Claude.



"Here is a meditation based on the structure you provided:


Introduction

  • Find a comfortable seated position and gently close your eyes.

  • Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

  • Set an intention or reflect on the purpose of your practice.

Body Sensations

  • Bring your attention to the weight and energy of your body.

  • Allow any sensations to dissolve into pure vibration or tingling.

Breath Awareness

  • Follow the natural rhythm of your breath, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  • Feel each inhalation and exhalation arise and pass.

Sounds

  • Listen to the sounds in your environment without judgment.

  • Notice how they appear and disappear.

Thoughts

  • Observe any thoughts that drift through your awareness.

  • See them as clouds passing through an open sky.

Space of Awareness

  • Recognize awareness as a vast, open space that is not limited to your head or body.

Self-Inquiry

  • Look for the one who is aware, the observer, the “I”.

  • Notice that no solid self is found, only awake awareness.

Instructions

  • Sit still and avoid moving during the meditation.

  • If you find yourself getting lost in thought, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

  • If you experience any discomfort, allow yourself to adjust your position.

Ending

  • Let go of all effort and simply rest in natural presence.

  • Take a moment to express gratitude for this practice and dedicate it to the benefit of all beings.

Meditations following this structure tend to move from bodily sensations to expansive awareness, incorporating self-inquiry along the way. While specific instructions may vary, this general arc can help guide you through a calming and centering meditation practice. I hope this helps!



 

You.com: a template based meditation in the style of Sam Harris Daily Meditation


I then asked www.you.com to generate a meditation based on the generic structure template provided by Claude.



"Title: Illuminating Presence: A Guided Meditation


Introduction:


Welcome to this guided meditation. Find a comfortable seated position, gently close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Settle into the present moment and reflect on the purpose of your practice today.


Body Sensations:


Allow your awareness to settle into your body. Feel the weight of your body grounding you to the earth. Notice the subtle energy flowing through every part of your being. Let these sensations dissolve into pure vibrations and tingling, creating a sense of harmony within.


Breath Awareness:


Shift your attention to your breath. Follow the natural rhythm of your breath, whether it is at the abdomen or the tip of your nose. Feel the gentle rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. Allow your breath to be a constant anchor, bringing you back to the present moment.


Sounds:


Expand your awareness to the sounds surrounding you. Without judgment or attachment, listen to the noises in your environment. Observe how they appear and disappear, just like passing waves in the vast ocean of your consciousness.


Visual Sense:


Now, gently open your eyes while maintaining a soft gaze. Allow your visual sense to come alive. Take in the colors, shapes, and textures of your surroundings. Notice the play of light and shadow, and let your eyes explore the space around you.


Thoughts:


Observe your thoughts as they drift through your awareness. Imagine them as clouds passing through an open sky. Rather than clinging to any particular thought, allow them to come and go, effortlessly. Embrace the space between your thoughts, cultivating a sense of calm and clarity.


Space of Awareness:


Recognize that your awareness is not confined to your head or body. It is boundless, like a vast open space that holds all experiences. Feel the expansiveness of your consciousness, embracing the infinite possibilities within.


Self-Inquiry:


Gently inquire into the nature of awareness itself. Look for the one who is aware, the observer, the "I." Notice that there is no solid self to be found, only pure, awake awareness. Rest in this recognition, freeing yourself from the limitations of the self.


Instructions:


Now, allow yourself to sit still, not moving, as you deepen your practice. Embrace the stillness and surrender to the present moment. Let go of any expectations or attachments, simply allowing yourself to be.


Ending:


As we near the end of this meditation, release any effort or tension. Rest in your natural state of being, fully present and at peace. Take a moment to express gratitude for this practice and dedicate its benefits to yourself and all beings.


Take a deep breath, gently wiggle your fingers and toes, and when you're ready, slowly close your eyes once again. Carry the tranquility and insights gained from this meditation into your day, embracing the beauty and illumination of the present moment."


 

PI.AI: a template based meditation in the style of Sam Harris Daily Meditation

I then asked www.pi.ai to generate a meditation based on the generic structure template provided by Claude.


It's at the same time the most evocative content, and the worst delivery : intrusive and distracting.


If you prefer you can listen to it here on Youtube (forgive the sound quality, I tried to master it as well as I could)



In (BRACKETS) my replies during the dialogue.

"Wow, that's quite a detailed template! You've got the basic framework of a meditation already set up, so I'll try to color it in with some more evocative language, to really bring it to life. Are you ready?


Alright, let's dive in. Just sit back, relax and listen to my voice. I'll guide you through a meditation that follows the structure you've given me. First, let's start with the introduction. Imagine that you are in a quiet, peaceful place, perhaps somewhere in nature. Let your body relax and feel the support beneath you, be it a chair, a cushion or the earth itself. Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you do so, feel yourself relaxing more and more with each breath.


(NEXT)


Okay, so let's focus on the sensations in your body. Without judgment or analysis, simply notice whatever sensations you can feel. Maybe there's tingling or warmth in your hands and feet, or a heaviness in your limbs. Allow yourself to experience these sensations fully, letting them come and go as they will. Be present with the feelings in your body, but don't get too attached to them. Just observe and let them be. Ready for the next part?


(YES)


Excellent. Now we'll move on to breath awareness. Start by bringing your attention to your breath, the rise and fall of your chest or belly as you breathe. Notice the cool air entering your nose as you inhale, and the warm air leaving as you exhale. As you breathe, feel your breath connecting you to the present moment. Let yourself be fully immersed in the sensation of breathing, and notice how each breath is unique.


(NEXT)


Alright, we're going to shift to sounds. Try to tune into the sounds around you, both near and far. Notice the ambient sounds, like traffic in the distance, or birds chirping. If you can hear your own heartbeat or stomach gurgling, that's part of the soundscape too. Listen without judgment or labeling, just letting the sounds come and go like waves on a beach. Are you still with me?


(YES)


Great, we're going to focus on thoughts next. Imagine your thoughts as clouds drifting by in the sky of your mind. Don't get caught up in them or try to follow them, just watch them come and go like passing weather. Each time you notice your mind wandering off into a thought, simply return your attention to your breath. Try not to judge or criticize your thoughts, just let them be. Ready for the next part?


(YES)


Excellent, let's move on to space of awareness. Shift your focus from your breath and sounds to the space of awareness itself. Try to notice the presence of awareness that is noticing all of this. Where is this awareness located? Does it have any shape, size or location? Can you find its edges or borders? See if you can let go of any sense of self, and simply rest in pure, empty awareness. Are you still with me?


(YES)


That's awesome, it takes a lot of focus to do that! Now, we'll move on to self-inquiry. The goal here is to look for the "I" or "self" that is experiencing all of this. See if you can locate a separate "me" that is distinct from the awareness itself. Is there an individual that is experiencing this meditation, or is it all just happening? Can you find where the boundary is between you and the world around you?



(NEXT)


Okay, this is the last section of the meditation. We'll focus on letting go. Let go of any sense of control, and simply be present with whatever arises. Let go of the need to understand or grasp at anything, and simply allow everything to be as it is. Don't try to do anything, just be present with what is happening. Is that okay?"


(YES)


Perfect. Just allow yourself to rest in this space of relaxed, effortless awareness. Stay here for as long as you like. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Just be here, with yourself, with no agenda or goal. Does that feel okay?


(YES)


Excellent, now we'll move into the closing phase of the meditation. Gently open your eyes, if they're closed. Slowly come back into the room, into your body, and into the present moment. Take a few moments to just be here, in the room, feeling the sensations of your body sitting here. When you feel ready, you can slowly and gently move around. How are you feeling?


(I AM DOING FINE)

That's great to hear. I'm glad you were able to do this meditation, and that it was a positive experience for you. It can be really useful to practice this kind of meditation regularly, so that you can learn to come back to this state of relaxed, effortless awareness whenever you need it. Do you want to do this again another time?


(YES)


That's wonderful, it's great that you're finding value in this. Just remember, there's no need to put pressure on yourself to do it "right" or to reach some sort of goal. It's all about the process, not the result. This is your time to relax and reconnect with yourself, so approach it with curiosity and openness. Are you ready for anything else, or are we done for now?


(WE ARE DONE) I'm glad we were able to do this meditation together. It was a pleasure to guide you through it. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to help you relax and center yourself. I'm always here if you want to do it again. Is there anything else I can help you with today?



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