Who would have thought that Russell Brand would host one of my favorite podcasts?
I could not have cared less about this British comedian until last summer, when he started popping up in my podcast feed for his show “Under the Skin.”
I knew him as the crass ex-husband of Katy Perry who had a problem with drugs and alcohol but was sober and still kind of an ass. I’m not sure what changed for him from those asshole days to today, where I’m recommending his podcast in a blog with “feminist” in its title, but here I am, telling you about two episodes that will take you to a deeper part of yourself.
First, Brand is worth listening to, in general, because of his radical reflections about the patriarchy, power, capitalism, religion and every other aspect of social-political life. He’s getting himself a college degree at Oxford at the moment, and I’m grateful he decided to record these very intellectual conversations he’s having with professors, mentors, teachers and authors he respects.
I’ve learned much about wealth and poverty, colonialism, institutional racism and global power through these interviews, but the episodes I’m telling you about today are where the shows ultimately end: figuring out how to quiet the chaos of the inner mind so you can deal with the chaos outside of it.
More Listen to This: Two podcast episodes from ‘Millennial’ that will make you rethink millennials
Sober for 15 years, Brand is an outspoken advocate of recovery, and his many years in Alcoholics Anonymous led him to a spiritual practice that also includes meditation. That’s how he knew about Ruby Wax, an American living in England who has become a noted mental health activist, mindfulness teacher and author.
I knew nothing about this actress-turned-mindfulness teacher, but her astute observations and clever quips were so moving, I had to listen to their hourlong chat twice to try to catch them all.
“The addiction animals lurk within each of us. Ambition, it’s an animal. I can feel it. I have an addition to getting angry about things. I get off on righteous indignation , just like a junkie. We become the tyrants we seek to escape.”
“It is so hard to wean off the mother breast of fame. The arrogance had to be squeezed out like sweat.”
“Before you can reinvent yourself there has to be a death. This is where you turn into wine or vinegar.”
“The brain is the only organ that when it breaks down you don’t get any sympathy cards.”
“Four out of the five thoughts are negative, which it comes from evolution. We are always looking for what might need us.”
“Mindfulness and meditation help us find the meaning of the dark and the light. If you run away from the monster, it chases you. If you face the monster, it runs away.”
I would listen to an entire show featuring Wax’s earnest laugh and penetrating honesty, which is probably why I keep returning to this single episode.
If this mindfulness stuff is up your alley, here’s another episode you should catch: His chat with Andy Puddicombe, one of the founders of Headspace, a meditation app used by something like 20 million people. Andy is the signature voice behind the meditation sessions, and although their chat wasn’t quite as bone-shaking as Ruby’s, it is still worth seeking out.
What podcasts have you been listening to lately? I’m always in the mood to hear about them! Don’t forget that I host a podcast over on Austin360 called “I Love You So Much” if you want to give a listen.