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Slow listening: Five podcasts about the unhurried life

Amrita V Nair | Updated on June 25, 2020 Published on June 25, 2020

No rush: Slowing down can help us take stock of and make time for what matters to us   -  ISTOCK.COM

The sudden break in routine, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, has reminded many of the need to move at a gentler pace

* From Slow Radio to Meditation Minis, these podcasts ease the listener into a less frenetic pace

Life under lockdown has yielded different lessons for different people. Staying at home has helped many of us get better acquainted with ourselves. It has thrown the frenetic pace of our pre-Covid-19 lives into stark relief. As we discovered the joy of things that we never seemed to have time for in the past — such as talking to a long-lost friend or painstakingly cooking an elaborate meal — we realised that slowing down can help us take stock of, and make time for, what matters to us, the things that bring us joy. As we emerge out of lockdown and return to our normal lives, perhaps that, above all, is the lesson to carry with us. To help us do just that, here are five podcasts to remind you of the joys of slowing down.

Slow Radio

Where better to start than with a long-running radio programme that describes itself as ‘an antidote to today’s frenzied world’ and as a ‘lo-fi celebration of pure sound’? Produced by the BBC and currently hosted by radio presenter Verity Sharp, this unique podcast provides an immersive experience that transports listeners in time and space solely through sound. Episodes are usually less than 30 minutes in duration and can feature anything from the sounds of life in modern Japan captured over two decades to uninterrupted birdsong. My favourite episode features a night-time duet between the shakuhachi (a Japanese/Chinese flute) player Clive Bell and a nightingale. It is exactly as magical as it sounds and the podcast itself is a great way to unplug and let your imagination take you on a journey to the far corners of the Earth. Listen at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/p05k5bq0.

Surprisingly Awesome

Produced by Gimlet Media, the podcast Suprisingly Awesome, which aired during 2015-16, was based on the premise that even the most mundane and soporific topics can have, you guessed it, surprisingly awesome facets to them. The show changed hosts multiple times but was first hosted by journalist Adam Davidson and film writer Adam McKay. Over the course of an episode, one of the hosts tells the other about an everyday object or entity and why it deserves more attention and interest. Episodes have delved into a truly wide array of topics ranging from concrete to pigeons. The podcast is truly an eye-opener — by exploring the origins or science behind the things that we take for granted, it reminds us that if we take time to consider it, the world around us can be an unceasing source of wonder. Listen at https://gimletmedia.com/shows/surprisingly-awesome/.

The Slow Home Podcast

The slow living movement urges us to value slowness and to adapt it in our approach to life. Originating in the culinary world as a counterculture to fast food, slow living today is an all-encompassing philosophy that urges its practitioners to live purposeful lives that are in tune with nature. Hosted by slow living advocate Brooke McAlary, the Slow Home podcast features interviews and discussions that centre on what it means to live a slow and simple life. The episodes provide various perspectives on slow living and answer questions that go beyond proselytising the merits of the philosophy to debating issues such as the right age to start living slow or the challenge of reconciling slow living with ambition. Listen at https://slowyourhome.com/.

Meditation Minis Podcast

Hosted by hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton, Meditation Minis is the meditation podcast for those who hate to meditate. Each episode is 10 minutes or less and features guided meditations that seek to help listeners de-stress and overcome anxiety. Hamilton is a passionate and empathetic host and the brevity of the episodes makes this the perfect solution for those who live busy lives. This podcast also makes for great bedtime listening as it is an effective and efficient way to relax. Hamilton takes pains to ensure that the meditations do not endorse or draw from any single religious or spiritual ideology — a feature that makes the podcast accessible to everyone, irrespective of where they are on the spectrum of belief. Listen at https://meditationminis.com/.

Radio Diaries

Produced by Peabody award-winner Joe Richman, Radio Diaries is an astonishing compilation of first-person audio accounts from people from all walks of life in America and beyond. Launched in 1996, Radio Diaries has been the recipient of every major American award in broadcast journalism. Episodes have featured autobiographical narratives or audio diaries from everyday people to historical figures, from Majd Abdulghani, a Saudi Arabian teenager chronicling her life and her hopes of pursuing a career in genetics, to Claudette Colvin, an octogenarian recounting her pioneering role in the American civil rights movement. Listening to this podcast and the “extraordinary stories of ordinary life” that it features is a great reminder that even an ordinary life is unique, and that, without slowing down, we may miss out on the stories and wonders waiting to be found in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. Listen at http://www.radiodiaries.org/.

Amrita V Nair is a freelance writer, public policy specialist and podcast enthusiast

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Published on June 25, 2020
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