Laurie Brown talks: settling into yourself with Grounding Thoughts
by Lauren Jane Heller
LAURIE BROWN TALKS
The Pondercast co-creator shares a set of tools to find balance and overcome common entrepreneurial challenges
Building a company can be a lonely, destabilizing calling. Of course, it’s also incredibly fulfilling, especially if you feel a sense of certainty that what you’re working on simply has to exist. Yet, regardless of your drive or vision, this strange, shifting world of global pandemic and social unrest may leave you feeling like you’re staggering around, uncertain of where to step next. This is precisely why Laurie Brown – former CBC radio host and co-creator of the Pondercast podcast – created Grounding Thoughts with her co-creators, Joshua Van Tassel and Ty Johnston.
Grounding Thoughts serve a clear if ambitious purpose: to ground the listener, anchor you in the present, and help you find a sense of stability and respite from the constant roil of thoughts (and panic or regret) about the past and future. They are visceral moments in the now, guided and calming meditations that help you let go of the noisy mind chatter and get back into your body.
“When the ground is taken out from under our feet — which it has been for everyone — there needs to be something to cling to,” Laurie says. “And a lot of people don’t have a spiritual practice. They may not have people around them that they can lean on. They are finding themselves very much adrift in a way that they’ve never been before.”
As with Pondercast, the Grounding Thoughts are the result of Laurie’s exploration into unconstrained creativity. Laurie told us that while hosting The Signal for a decade on CBC Radio, “I was always cutting myself back and always holding things in”. In what may be her final professional adventure, Laurie decided that with Pondercast she had to “create something that gives me the freedom to go as far as I need to go.”
Part of the thinking behind these short episodes is the understanding that many people don’t feel comfortable, or even know, how to be alone.
“I was always cutting myself back and always holding things in”
“With Grounding Thoughts, we thought that we’d try and offer something long enough to have people be able to give their brain a slight reset, open up their vision a little more, and make them feel “Okay, I’m not alone in this. We’re all feeling this way and now my brain feels different and I can look at the next 20 minutes differently,” Laurie says.
The inspiration for each short episode comes from Laurie’s personal life — “a lot of them my own personal things as I’m moving through my day and I feel myself falling down a rabbit hole.” Laurie’s aim is to try to open up her perspective: “When I write viscerally, when I attempt to help people connect their body to what’s going on, it changes everything,” she says, “…so if I can write about having a cup of tea, holding a mug and talk about the feeling in your hand, the feeling in your throat; [if] I can talk about sitting in front of a fire and feeling the warmth through the bottoms of your feet and wrapping yourself in a blanket; if I can actually write very viscerally to help people connect with their bodies, there’s a shift. And mostly, I think if people are coming to Grounding Thoughts for help, it’s because they become disconnected.”
Why are people feeling so disconnected? In many cases, it’s because we identify so strongly with our thoughts about what we need to do, the stories we tell ourselves about the past and the future, that we lose our grip on what’s happening in the present. And without some form of meditative practice — whether it’s sitting in silence, running, biking, walking or any other presencing experience — it’s so easy to fall down the rabbit holes that create panic and separation.
As a focused creator and high achiever, Laurie feels that her meditation practice is what guides her the most:
“[Meditation] gives me the ability to know that when I am stressed and when things are not right, it’s because I’ve made my world too small,” she says. “I need to open it up and include more and as soon as I include everything like the wind and the trees, then my problems diminish, and they seem to fit better, seem more possible.”
She also joked that “like everyone else, I’m a bad meditator” by which she means that most people feel like they’re not doing it right. But rather than giving in to the resistance that she feels when thoughts or feelings come up that she doesn’t want in the moment, Laurie has learned to “keep my ass on the cushion” and investigate the boredom or discomfort, or let the thoughts wander through her head.
Why are people feeling so disconnected? In many cases, it’s because we identify so strongly with our thoughts about what we need to do, the stories we tell ourselves about the past and the future, that we lose our grip on what’s happening in the present.
In recognizing how meditation has profoundly changed her life, she is keenly aware of people’s universal ache for transformation. “Whether they go to meditation or academia or philosophy or racing bikes or anything — I can feel the ache of wanting a kind of spiritual attachment to something…to change them.” Laurie plays around with this longing for transformation in Pondercast, making it “a place that is on the edge of your own exploration but will let you go where you need to go.” Her attitude is that every person needs to get onto their path, and that path will look different for each individual.
“[The path] is purpose,” she continues. “It’s understanding where your talents [lie], where you see a need in the world, and where you see your talents can help. [It’s] that magic moment when you realize where that connection is, because purpose is not something you can decide on. Purpose is something that is revealed to you.”