How to Human in a Pandemic

PLUS: New Remote Resilience Masterclasses, Delightful + Free Virtual Events, The Geography of Genius & The Lifechanging Magic of Journaling

Oh hello—Curious Human 👋

How are you feeling at this moment? What have you been creating lately? What has sparked joy? What or who is on the edge of your heart right now?

Amongst you curious readers, there are doctors working on the front lines, families and couples forced to be part and founders whose livelihoods have been devastated. At the same time, I’ve witnessed how this crisis has brought out unfathomable levels of curiosity + creativity—finding collective meaning amidst the unknown.

In fact, as I’m typing these words, one reader + dear friend, Scott Drummond is running 2,813 laps around his Brighton garden patio for a #lockdownmarathon to raise money for those battling cancer. What we need now is more of this human connection + creative expression. What ways are you answering this question for yourself? And how might we craft more imaginative rituals and communities during these interesting times?


👨‍🎓 NEW: Remote Resilience Masterclasses

Alongside Jan Chipchase + the Studio D team we have revamped the resilience masterclasses to be delivered via remotely via Zoom. A lot of work has been poured into designing the content—it is a subject that feels close to my heart and needed in the world right now.

I’m excited to see who joins us and for the emergent conversations that I sense will arise during the sessions. The masterclasses will be run in these three hour modules:

Module 1: Building Your Resilience Toolkit | May 8
Module 2: Energy Management Rituals | May 15
Module 3: Support Structure For Remote Leaders | May 22

If any of the above topics resonate with where you are at right now or might be relevant for your teams—you can find more details here.


🧘 UPDATE: 30 Day Meditation Challenge

We’re entering Week 4 of the meditation challenge and it has hands down been one of the most rewarding projects that I’ve been a part of. Close to a thousand people have participated and both feel called to continue to support the community.

All are welcome to watch the session replays + our list of meditation resources here.


🎧 FREE: Resilience Meditation

After many months of resisting, I’ve begun recording and uploading some of my own guided meditations. The purpose of this particular practice is to guide you through the process of enquiring into these triggering experiences (not that any of you would have experienced these of late) and mining them for deeper insight and wisdom.

You can listen to the full meditation for free over on Insight Timer.


I learnt yesterday that the word 'Apocalypse' in Greek originally referred to "revelation" or a great unfolding of things not previously known.

So with that in mind, I wish you both creative insights + personal revelations in the coming weeks… and as always if you have any thoughts, stories or reflections for me I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime—wishing you oodles of courage, curiosity & heart-felt joy.

–JM

p.s. an enormous thank you Mike, Haneen, Marie (and my mum!) who have been participating in the meditation group and sent generous contributions + notes via paypal—these notes and delightfully unexpected gifts really do fuel my creative confidence.

Above // Reflecting on my Meditation Retreat at Spirit Rock in 2018—now feels like a suitable time to return inwards + remember how to practise loving-kindness meditation.

🙏 How to Human in a Pandemic

🗺️ 1 // We’re Entering Uncharted Territory…

I’ve previously shared about the experience of navigating grief as if trapped in a great storm—one that strips away everything that isn’t important. The same feels true of this global pandemic.

The way it is rippling throughout all corners of the globe—devastating businesses, pension funds, working identities so much of what we counted on for safety and security—the empty calendars—the palpable uncertainty.

So much of what we relied upon for our identities and sense of self-worth crumbles away—underneath that lies an opportunity for a deeper connection.

A connection to what capital ‘M’ Matters—our innate human-ness.


👌 2 // It’s OKAY to Feel Overwhelmed

In all honesty, if you haven’t experienced some turbulent thoughts or challenging emotions during the past few weeks then you might want to check your pulse.

The felt sensation of groundlessness can be terrifying, but as Liz Gilbert wisely says ‘resilience is our shared genetic inheritance(I thoroughly recommend listening to the full episode).

We have an innate capacity for post-traumatic growth if we are willing to walk towards and get curious about that which we’re afraid of—as opposed to numbing out or distracting ourselves from emotions that are arising.


🔭 3 // Zoom the Lens Out

Perhaps this is another reminder that despite our self-assured dominance of the animal kingdom—we homo sapiens are a miraculous + fragile species living in a temporarily hospitable corner of the (known) universe.

We have and always will be at the mercy of grandmother earth and her vast uncontrollable forces to which the only conceivable response is humility + grace.

So perhaps this is a delicious opportunity to remember our inherent fragility, the temporary nature of our meat suits and that all existence operates in a seasonal great unravelling and magnificent creation.


📆 Four Delightfully Free Virtual Events

🦋 1 // Metamorphosis—a 3-day stay-at-home retreat for empowerment, resilience and meaning via High Existence on April 24-26.

🌬️ 2 // Neurodynamic Breathwork with Michael Stone—this is one of the best virtual breathwork experiences out there (there is a lot of diversity in quality) and the first session is free.

💃 3 // The Stoa—virtual gatherings are hosted by Peter Limberg who is on a mission to rekindle the art of practical philosophy at the razor’s edge of this pandemic. The conversations are participatory and go deep (also be sure to check-out the existential dance parties with Collin Morris)

👨‍🎨 4 // Creative Mornings Field Trips—offering events from calming calligraphy and mindful improv to podcast production and human design sessions


🤯 Five Articles Worth Your Time

🌎 1 // The Corona-nation (audio / read)

Charles Eisenstein is one of the most interesting thinkers of our generation. He is the author of ‘Sacred Economics’, ‘A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible’, and most recently ‘Climate: A New Story’. It’s not a stretch to say that his writing and courses have influenced my thinking + worldview more than perhaps any other human.

In this essay which opens with—’I write these words with the aim of standing here with you – bewildered, scared maybe, yet also with a sense of new possibility – at this point of diverging paths'—he zooms the lens out to inquire into how covid-19 is revealing our relationship to death, asking what kind of world do we actually want to live in.

Yes, we can proceed as before down the path toward greater insulation, isolation, domination, and separation. We can normalize heightened levels of separation and control, believe that they are necessary to keep us safe, and accept a world in which we are afraid to be near each other. Or we can take advantage of this pause, this break in normal, to turn onto a path of reunion, of holism, of the restoring of lost connections, of the repair of community and the rejoining of the web of life.

I consider this essential reading for anyone seeking to find meaning and ask the right questions amidst the unfolding global events.


📝 2 // The Lifechanging Magic of Journaling (read)

I’ve been a long-time fan of Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’, but I love Erick’s Jungian approach to journaling—bringing in his wisdom from ‘Internal Family Systems’ and trauma awareness to create one heck of a compelling case to pick up that unloved Moleskine and get curious about the daimons, magicians and guardians living within your psyche.

“The fundamental idea [of internal family systems'] is that each of us has an inner ‘wounded child’ who created ‘guardians’ to protect itself as a result of traumatic experiences… when we were children, inevitably we experienced our needs not being met by our caretakers or by the world… and in response to these events, we create unconscious stories that seek to reduce the chance of the negative feeling happening again.”


🤔 3 // Rhythm, Ritual + Boundaries (read)

Reading this post I felt very ‘seen’ by the way Sonja described the paradoxical emotions arising in this confusing liminal space we are living into—feeling both overwhelmed + underinformed, flip-flopping between gratitude, guilt and frustration all in the space of a few hours.

Her post is structured into these three areas for exploration and experimentation:

  1. Cadence and structure: the importance of Rhythm and Routine

  2. Ritual: The importance of ritual and role transitions

  3. Constraints: Or my new favourite word, Boundaries

The section on boundaries resonated especially with me—as someone who has a history of saying yes to all the things and only relatively recently learning how to voice my own needs:

“I’ve also realised that I allow myself to get pulled into unnecessary conversations way too often. Usually, it is to be a kind of security blanket, to make decisions that others have been empowered to make, but don’t feel safe for fear of getting it wrong.”


🗺️ 4 // The Geography of Genius (book)

The word “genius” does not necessarily evoke images of cliffs and lakes, sands and hills. But in his book ‘Consolations’, the poet David Whyte recasts genius as the specificity of how we’re each shaped by our geographies and histories:

“To live one’s genius is to dwell easily at the crossing point where all the elements of our life and our inheritance join and make a meeting… we might think of ourselves as each like a creative geography, a confluence of inherited flows. Each one of us has a unique signature, inherited from our ancestors, our landscape, our language, and beneath it a half-hidden geology of existence: memories, hurts, triumphs, and stories in our lineage that have not yet been fully told.”

I love this idea that our genius isn’t some internal fixed amount of inspiration, but more of a lived conversation between our inherited make-up & the people + environments we place ourselves within—or as David Whyte poetically puts it:

“Our genius is to understand and stand beneath the set of stars present at our birth, and from that place, to seek the hidden, single star, over the night horizon, we did not know we were following.”


👨‍🎓 5 // A War Broke Out in Heaven (read / watch)

Zach Stein is another post-modern thinker whose perspective has kicked up a lot of dust in the sense-making community. I love the unapologetically epic + mythical use of language:

There is a war taking place in heaven concerning the soul of humanity, and it will be fought in each person’s heart, every day, without rest, and into the foreseeable future. 

And the way he makes a rallying call to name the present what it is: ‘History unfolding in real-time’

This is it: we have arrived at the end of the world. Finally. Now we can start to build a new one. This is our chance to reshape ourselves as spiritual, scientific, and ethical beings.

Perhaps this invitation of finding meaning in tragedy is the one that we must each step into in our own unique ways:

As is the task of remaking of the self. We must learn to do both while creating a new world. Grief is warranted. Fear is warranted. Pain is inevitable. But in so far as the future matters, learning must become our primary process.


🔗 Et Cetera

🖋️ How to write a poem

🙏 Stay home + take care

🌪️ Honing emotional agility

⛈️ Thoughts amidst a storm

💡 Excellent quarantine ideas

🚀 In depth guide to deep work

👨‍🌾 The healing power of gardens

😨 Don’t day trade your emotions

😷 Make bespoke masks from scratch

🤔 How to scientifically spark curiosity

🚢 Relationships move fast on a slow ship

💰 Understanding the impending recession

👨‍🎓 Practical advice for aspiring virtual facilitators

🏡 Home alone together—33 wonderful ways to pass the time

🏫 Hundreds of epic online courses from Harvard, MIT & Stanford

👨‍🏭 Life hacks are a 200-year-old movement to destroy your humanity


Parting Poem 📝

THE SHADOW

What is the question—you are scared to ask?
Tell me of the shape—that your shadow casts.
You must turn around—seek your seeker.
Find the courage—to meet its gaze,
And speak—its true name.