Everything in our lives, from our relationships down to the cells of our hearts, is a process of combining. Things connect to other things to form relationships that create more than the sum of their parts, and in this way the world emerges. As Nora Bateson puts it in her new book, Combining, nothing we see is ‘just that and nothing more.’
This piece is a combination of words and sound, as I recently recorded a conversation with Bateson, which you can find as an audio podcast above, or on Apple Podcasts and most other podcast platforms. Nora is one of the leading voices in the world of systems change, or what she prefers to call ‘systems learning,’ and Combining is a bracing blend of complexity theory, poetry, mythos and ecology which I’ve been enjoying it immensely.
Bateson is also a faculty member on my upcoming course New Ways of Knowing, and as well as Combining and wider questions around how we can influence the systems we’re part of, we also talk about the experiential process of ‘trans-contextual knowing’ she’ll be guiding in her session.
Below, I’ve also included a couple of updates, a thank you on the first anniversary of this Substack, and a new guided insight practice for paid subscribers.
News and Updates
This is the first audio-only piece I’ve released on here, and it was refreshing to return to this format after an extended break. I enjoyed our conversation so much I plan to release more like this in the future, alongside my regular features, essays and reading lists. Coming up next week is a conversation with poet and author Sophie Strand exploring how myth and poetry can help us make sense of complexity. Sophie is another faculty member on New Ways of Knowing, and as well as standalone pieces, these conversations have been inspiring and influencing how I develop the course.
In other news, last week I recorded a live Street Epistemology session with Peter Boghossian. Boghossian is one of the authors of How to Have Impossible Conversations, an academic and author focused on finding ways to bridge culture war divides through new forms of dialogue. As this is a key focus of mine too, it was a joy to dialogue and inquire together. If you haven’t heard of the Street Epistemology methodology and are interested in new conversations that move beyond cultural stuckness, I’d highly recommend checking out this video and the wider Street Epistemology scene.
One Year of The Bigger Picture
I wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone for reading this Substack. November 5th marked one year of The Bigger Picture, and in that time I’ve written 35 features and articles, with over 750,000 views and close to 30,000 subscribers.
Transitioning from Rebel Wisdom a year ago was intense, scary and exciting, and I’m massively grateful for all your continued engagement and interest in my work. It’s nearing six months since my book The Bigger Picture was published, and I’m also grateful that so many of you have bought and reviewed it so favourably; the Audible version is currently ranked #2 in the Science & Philosophy category which feels wonderful and mind-boggling.
A very special thanks to paying subscribers: without you this Substack wouldn’t be possible. Your support provides me with a regular income and helps me buy essential kit, like the new microphone I used to record my interview with Nora.
For paid subscribers this week, I have an updated and improved Sovereignty Meditation. This is a meditation I’ve been developing over the last five years that draws on cognitive science and the wisdom traditions to combine breathwork, concentration, contemplation and journaling into a single practice. It’s one I use personally during intense times, whether that’s dealing with the complexity of life and culture, or preparing for a psychedelic experience.
You can also find my video content and other updates on my Instagram, and I’ll be sharing more about my new fiction project and putting a call out for guest writers in the near future. Thanks again for engaging with my work; I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
It seems I can’t publish this piece with a paywall and a podcast, Substack wants it to be one or the other - so I’ve changed it and now everyone has access to the paid member meditation
Hi everyone, you can find the new Sovereignty Meditation below. As I mention in the audio, the intention of the guide is to help you learn each step of the meditation (Breathwork, Concentration, Mindfulness and Journalling) and then create your own version of it. I use this almost every day and it was inspired in part by John Vervaeke’s work around building ‘an ecology of practices’.
The different practices that make up this meditation are by no means extensive, but I’ve found them to provide a good spectrum of ‘zooming in’ and ‘zooming out’ that give me a more ‘optimal grip’ on myself and the world. I hope you enjoy it - if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.