PLUS: The Privilege of Being Alive, How to Transcend Regret, ‘Clinical Breathwork’ & My Most Treasured Possession
|Nov 26|| 1|
Mahalo Curious Human 👋
I recently learned that the writer Michael Montaigne imagined the act of travel as allowing us to ‘rub and polish our brains’ against those of others.
Whilst it may seem presumptuous, my hope is that these multifarious musings also take you on a mini-adventure, schmearing curiosity-evoking elbow grease to those whirring cogs of your mind (as always, any brain-polishing replies, thoughts and ponderings are most welcome here).
🏄♂️ What is your most treasured possession? // Two years ago I spent two weeks shaping a 7’6 single fin wooden longboard in Ericeira Portugal, and last week I rubbed the first coat of wax on the deck, screwed in the fin, attached a leash and paddled out towards the horizon… not only did she not sink but rode like a dream, flying along the face of the high tide sets, hopefully the first of many stoke-inducing waves to come!
🏔️ How to Human-ing // after many months of ecstatic flailing, clarity is finally emerging around the shape of this How to Human project. I intend to shift the central enquiry of the podcast towards ‘How might we learn to human better’ and have enthusiastically begun designing Emotional Resiliency workshops (and tentatively planning a ‘vision quest’ for startup founders).
📆 40 Days till 2020 // Our human lives tend to expand or shrink in direct proportion to both our courage and our capacity to pay deep attention in any moment. So with just over a month left of this decade, I’m feeling a renewed urgency to simplify and sink into that state of reflective hibernation—letting go of all that has passed and creating space for something new to emerge—as David Whyte would say ‘we are all compost for worlds that we cannot yet imagine’.
I’ll leave you with my new favourite journal and conversation question, as you step back from the maelstrom of your life and reflect forward into 2020:
"What feels most alive for you in this moment?"
That’s all for now folks—as always—Stay Curious Out There.
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Above // Taking the wooden ‘Sophie’ longboard out for a test run
🎙️ Three Nourishing & Smile-Inducing Podcast Conversations
The Curious Humans podcast is approaching 10,000 downloads and the itunes reviews that you guys have been leaving are so appreciated, I just wanted to say how much it means and fuels me to keep forging ahead!
😱 1 // Eating Knowledge & The Art of Productive Disagreement with Buster Benson
In all honesty, I’ve spent most of my life chronically avoiding conflict and had inherited a belief that conflict was never ‘productive… but after this conversation with Buster I’m starting to really shift my perspective in this area and flip my fear of conflict.
We get into the meaty questions about his new book that's hitting the shelves this week called 'Why Are We Yelling', a whimsical and disarmingly powerful case and strategy guide for ‘productive disagreement’.
Buster covers the three truths or misconceptions about arguments, why he likes to eat knowledge, he coaches me through the process of engaging in a disagreement around climate change and we talk about what he calls the voice of possibility.
Then towards the end we explore some fun ground around: Why he's writing a 'Codex Vitae', His 100th birthday plans, what death-bed points are and why he took a photo at exactly 8.36pm every day for almost a decade! This was truly one of my favourite conversations to date!
Busters new book contains some timely and powerful ideas, and if you don’t take my word for it, this is what Seth Godin thought:
“This is a life-changing book. Read it three times and then give a copy to anyone you care about. It will make things better.”
😲 2 // Curiosity, Grief, Wonder & The Privilege of Being Alive with Mike Slavin
This was a real honour, Mike is trained as a magician and also the CEO at 'High Existence' — a community and network of practical philosophy and for expanding human consciousness — and he's one of the most articulate and poetic people I've had the pleasure of meeting.
Mike and I riff on definitions of wonder, ambition, grief, the role of inviting in the unexpected, the difference between purpose and destiny, and so much more.
"Certainty is a bit of a misnomer, it's more of a clinging tendency to pre established worldviews often inherited from parents or the education system... when I lose certainty, I'm invited into this chance to be curious, to wonder and to explore." —Mike Slavin
🧠 3 // Cultivating Curiosity, Self-Authorship & Mindframing with Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Anne-Laure is an ex-Googler, a talented writer and part-time neuroscience student. We bounce around between topics that resonated with me personally including: time anxiety, why we don't tend to take curiosity seriously as adults, a powerful technique for personal growth she's developed called 'Mindframing' and her recent decision to leave Google in order to go back to study neuroscience at Kings in London.
"Take the time to think what your own mental gym will look like. Training a few minutes a day can help you be more creative, more productive, and more resilient." – Anne-Laure Le Cunff
I would thoroughly recommend signing-up for Anne-Laure’s Maker Mind newsletter, it’s consistently one that I look forward to receiving each week!
Three Powerful Ideas To Ponder 🧠
🤦♂️ 1 // How Can We Transcend Regret?
One of my favourite people to follow on Twitter, Malcolm Ocean wrote this in-depth and vulnerable post on what he learnt about how to truly let go of regret.
The essay is centred around this koan:
“If you had a chance for a do-over, would you choose for everything to go exactly the same? If not, you have not yet surrendered.”
Would you choose this? Genuinely? I thought back to Nietzsche’s idea of ‘Amor Fati’, his formula for greatness in a human being: “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”
This is powerful stuff. And for me it surfaces the idea that all suffering we experience—the things that don’t go the way we intended—is almost created by divine design so that we can learn the lessons that we needed to learn in this unfolding curriculum of life. What do you think??
🌬️ 2 // Exploring the World of ‘Clinical Breathwork’
The more that I have been learning and exploring this emerging (and also ancient) world of ‘breathwork’ the more fascinated I become. As I mentioned in last month’s newsletter, I’ve been working on an IF [THIS] THEN [BREATHE] format for simple exercises that can be carried out anywhere to help cultivate focus or calm.
However, recently I’ve been diving into the world of ‘clinical breathwork’ and after several 1-1 sessions I’m becoming convinced of its potential for deep healing and lasting self-transformation (on a par with any psychedelic or plant medicine).
As this Guardian article mentions, many of us learnt to breathe in very unhealthy ways. It turns out that our subconscious breathing patterns impact our nervous system, which in turn impacts our endocrine system, changing our blood chemistry… which leads to changes in our organ function, focus, clarity and thought processes.
Not only that but the way we breathe impacts our digestion, nutrient uptake, heart-rate variability and (PHEW takes deep breath) perhaps most crucially… is a gateway into the subconscious mind and creates an opportunity for unprocessed emotions to surface and be released.
In short, it’s a freggin powerful tool that the vast majority of humans take for granted.
NB. I’m taking part in a 5-day facilitator training in Feb 2020 here in Bali (let me know if you’d like more info on this as I’d love to train with fellow curious humans!)
🍄 3 // How Do Psychedelics Actually Work?
This Aeon essay explores questions of ego-dissolution experiences and the psychedelic revolution that we find ourselves amidst.
Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves…
Stan Grof, one of the early LSD pioneers once suggested that the potential significance of psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy. The research in this area is exploding and it’s exciting that our generation gets to come along for the ride. It seems to me that there are few more important questions than understanding the nature of consciousness and this sense of ‘self’ that we all seem to be so concerned with.
‘The self itself does not exist as a persistent entity, but is a fundamental cognitive strategy… it is difficult to escape the conclusion that we have evolved into an ape that takes things personally.’
💌 A poem a day
🖋️ How to write better
📝 Daily Writing prompts
😈 How to overcome your demons
🌳 Relationship lessons from trees
📝 13 Life Lessons from Brainpicker
👨⚕️ TED playlist for emotional first aid
🐟 Artifishal: fighting to save the salmon
🤓 Unlocking the emotional brain (deep dive)
🏫 The future of online education (twitter thread)
🤾 The war against dangerously dull playgrounds
☄️ Earth’s magnetic fields being hit by a solar storm
🍄 Trip report from a mushroom ceremony in Amsterdam
💰 The difference between wealth and prosperity (podcast)
🎙️ My conversation with happy startups on decision making
👨🎓 Tentative curriculum for psycho-technologies of self-transformation
Parting Poem 📝
You are not the author
Of this life.
But a willing scribe,
Taking grateful dictation.
You must learn to pay attention
as each word emerges.
Like a stepping stone,
Into the great mystery.
Look up and
Gaze in rapture,
As the story
Unfolds before you.