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Spirit Levels

Pressure testing the wellness industry, from the pseudo to the sensible


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  • Grief is the Price of Love

    39:42
    How do we confront the mortality of someone we love? In the final episode of this season of Spirit Levels, our guests help Jenny through her existential fear of Frank’s death (it’s okay, he’s fine). Lo Carmen, host of the podcast Death Is Not the End, talks romantic death pop, funeral song choices and turning ashes into records. Kimba Griffith, of The Last Hurrah Funerals, discusses the fine and varied ways in which you can send off your person. Memoirist Elly Varrenti shares the difficulty in forever being the ‘other woman’ when in a relationship with a widower. Is it a coincidence this episode came about after we visited the Capuchin Catacombs in Sicily and saw all the mummies dressed in their Sunday best, so that their grieving relatives never have to let them go? No. But also, preparing for our own deaths is a vital part of life admin, and something we all need to give proper thought.This will be the last episode from us for a while as we take time out to work on a special season. What a great time to play catch-up with our 28 episodes! Please stay followed and subscribed for those updates. See you on the other side…LINKSJenny writing for The Guardian about Frank risking his life on their wedding day.Lo Carmen’s podcast Death is Not the End.The Last Hurrah Funerals.Elly Varrenti’s writing.Spirit Levels on Instagram.Newsletter.

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  • Facing Fears

    36:18
    What are you afraid of, reasonably or unreasonably? And what can help combat that? Hypnosis? Exposure therapy? Flooding? Guidance? In episode 27 of Spirit Levels we use Jenny’s fear of sharks as a case study, meeting with Will Salter, a man who came eye to eye with a great white shark when surfing; Lola Broomhall, a freediver and breathwork practitioner, and hypnotist Jeremy Walker.LINKSLola Broomhall: breathwork, physio, freediving workshops, professional mermaiding!Hey, if you like the tune that’s playing near the beginning, when Jenny and Frank are talking about fear, that’s ‘Summer of Sad’ by Salty Lips.St Andrews Beach Community Choir sang the ‘Don’t Be Scared of the Ocean’ refrain and are based on the Mornington Peninsula.The Summit AI coach Jenny used (free!)Hypnotist Jeremy WalkerA wonderful story about freediving by Michael Adams in the Australian Review of Books.
  • Optimal Morning Routines

    11:33
    We’re going to be in Bali by the time you hear this, gathering some more weird wellness intel, so this ep we handed the mic over to our listeners to find out how they start the day the right way. From oil pulling, to 5 Tibetan rites to doing naked squats in the elements… we really feel like we know them very well now. LINKSAmong our contributors this episode were Mena from Human Thriving (who spoke about glucose)...And Katie from Therapeutic Eating (who spoke about objectivity).Spirit Levels on Instagram.Our newsletter.
  • What Would the Stoics Do?

    30:45
    Who the hell would want to be a Stoic? That was journalist Brigid Delaney’s thought when she was commissioned to write a book on Stoic philosophy. Brigid felt she was more Epicurean by nature if anything, but having now written the book Reasons Not to Worry: How to be Stoic in Chaotic Times, she's happy to admit Marcus Aurelius and co. rule her life.In this episode, Brigid walks us through:What to do when you have FOMO in your career.What to do with feeling of failure.What to do when you piss off your neighbour.What to do when conflicts escalate.How to cope with disaster.How to create structure around your drinking habits.And how to make your own shame vaccine. Jenny reflects on how her thinking was transformed by Stoicism during a stint at Alcoholics Anonymous. Frank insists he’s a Stoic, despite regularly pulling hand guns on tradies.LINKSBrigid Delaney's book Reasons Not to WorryBrigid Delaney's book WellmaniaSpirit Levels on InstagramOur newsletter
  • Life Coach Cults

    01:06:19
    If your life coach is a psychopath, is that necessarily a bad thing? Coaching is marketed to wannabes as a luxury, business-class lifestyle that grants you total freedom and easy money. (And oh yeah, you might have to deal with some clients in crisis, too.) You’ve just got to learn how to hustle, which means paying a whoop-load of cash to other coaches to get 'the codes'. Possibly for the rest of your life.This episode, Frank and Jenny revisit their favourite topic, piggybacking off the Netflix UK documentary Psychopath Life Coach.We ask our guest Danielle Ryan – a former life coach who now makes explainer videos dissecting the scammier side of the industry – what trends she’s seeing. These range from the escalating industry of coaches coaching coaches, to the ‘fitness coach to business coach pipeline’, to business coaches rebranding as spiritual coaches.Along the way, Frank and Jenny discuss Matthew McConaughey’s infiltration into coaching, sweat-lodge disaster guy James Arthur Ray, NLP, Landmark and Dale Carnegie. We also get Jenny’s Indonesian language teacher Jamsen on the show, to talk about how life coaches are taking over Bali and his take on whether that’s all bad.By the way, if you dig this episode, you’ll love our eps Make Me a Life Coach and also the episode Energy Healing, Manifesting and The Placebo Effect.LINKSDanielle Ryan on the most common business coaching scams.Danielle Ryan’s videos on NLP, part one and part two.Jenny’s Bahasa teacher, Jamsen. Hire him!Jenny talking about life coaching on ABC radio and Disrupt radio (scroll down to Mar 12).Further reading: Is Life Coaching Just Modern Sophistry? (Quillette) Life Coaching Industry Scams (BBC). The Cult-like Language That’s Coursing Through Business (Inc). Jay Shetty’s monk back-story questioned (The Guardian).Leave us a voice message for a future episode on Speakpipe.Spirit Levels on Instagram.Our newsletter.
  • Nudity and Naturism

    32:38
    The English and the Australians – of which we here at Spirit Levels represent both – are notoriously prudish when it comes to nudity, so Frank and Jenny want to know if they can break their conditioning. This episode takes us from tischtennis halls of Berlin to the secret beaches of Australia. Listen along:01.16 Frank slept in his mum and dad’s bed till he was six.02.33 Titillation is not the same as nudity (yeah, Frank).03.56 Lucian Freud: Oh my god.04.20 Are all nudists = perverts or is that just an English equation?05.48 Nude sport options in Berlin.06.35 Visiting Stadtbad Neukölln.08.41 Freikopterkultur (FKK) and ‘free body culture’ in Germany.10.15 Ela, from Frankfurt Oder, tells us about FKK when she was growing up.16.18 How Bravo magazine freaked out Ela’s sister’s host family in the US.18.21 Finally! Time for the nude table tennis.20.01 Naturists and conservation (featuring a cameo from a rare orchid).22.35 Jenny and Frank go ‘beyond the wire’ in Portsea.25.02 A sad story about jetskis.29.44 Ritualistic nude events, like Dark Mofo’s Winter Solstice Swim and the Sydney Skinny.30.20 Yoni sunning – the kinda Taoist practice that draws in solar energy and Vitamin D.LINKSStadtbad NeuköllnDark Mofo Nude Solstice SwimThe Sydney SkinnyLeave us a voice message for a future episode on SpeakpipeSpirit Levels on InstagramOur newsletter
  • What Can a Performance Coach Teach Us All?

    31:14
    Sport psychology is psychology on steroids. Athletes experience success failure, goal-setting and pressure at a heightened level, so delving into their mindsets has so much to teach us mere mortals about optimising our everyday lives.Our guest is mental fitness coach Brett Stephens, aka Moose. He’s a former professional footballer who then became a performance coach on the professional tennis circuit for over 20 years (including full-time for Pete Sampras in the last 5 years of the tennis legend’s career), also working with surfers, golfers and other athletes. He’s a larger-than-life character on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia, where he lives now.We’ve time-stamped Moose’s interview below so you can jump to the key points.05.55 Pete Sampras’s game plan when he didn’t win a tournament for two years08.20 Moose’s philosophy of effort over perfection09.25 Your attitude towards losing is more important than your attitude towards winning09.52 How his first conversation with a new client goes11.03 The trap of getting caught up in the outcome11.34 Use negative thoughts as fuel13.07 You may be evolving fast, but so is your industry14.21 The language of mindset coaching15.19 You can lose your temper, but you must reset fast16.03 The impact of social media distraction on performance18.29 How do you deal with, overzealous parents?19.31 Is it important to visualise being number one?23.51 The optimum state of ‘relaxed intensity’25.08 The chief lesson Moose learned on his AFL journey27.57 Working with Pete SamprasLINKSMoose as motivational speakerLeave us a voice message for a future episode on SpeakpipeSpirit Levels on InstagramOur newsletter