Five podcasts that will change your life

Listening to podcasts enhances concentration, fires imagination and makes you more compassionate. Here’s how

By Shona Mallalieu

Forget apps.

These days, whatever subject you can think of, there’s a podcast for that.

There are tutorials, talk shows, tinfoil hat conspiracy theories, comedy hours, cat-grooming tips, urban crime investigations, spiritual and meditative workshops, cereal bar health kicks, therapeutic advice sessions, scientific insights, motivational get-up-and-do-its.

    ...millions of people worldwide are replacing music with podcasts for their morning commutes.  

You name it, there’ll be something for you.

From Monday to Friday, and even on weekends, millions of people worldwide are replacing music with podcasts for their morning commutes. But is it simply a case of easy entertainment on the go?

Apparently not.

A recent study by Emma Rodero, a communications professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, shows that listening to narratives, such as podcasts, generates vivid images in our minds.

Because we are listening and don’t have any visual stimuli to look at, as it once was with radio, the brain has to conjure up its own images. This in turn requires higher levels of concentration and attention.

Not only that, another study demonstrates that listening in this way incites higher levels of emotional involvement. Listening to a podcast can actually make you more compassionate.

I found all of this and more to be true when I made the transition from listening to mostly music on my iPhone to tuning in to podcasts.

I had been sceptical.

With precious few hours in the day, I wanted to be able to relax in those stolen moments of peace, rather than listen to something that demanded yet more concentration.

But the best thing about podcasts, and something that any fan will tell you, is that you can relax while listening to them, even while your knowledge expands. They are at once both calming and engaging.

Podcasts also make you feel productive. When you listen to them, you’re improving yourself, and you don’t have to stare at a screen or the printed page to do it.

With so much choice out there, where does the podcast novice begin? Here are five of the best podcasts, covering a range of topics and tastes. Enjoy!

    Podcasts also make you feel productive. When you listen to them, you’re improving yourself,...  

1. Spiritual, socio-political: Under the Skin with Russell Brand

Any fan of Russell Brand will love this podcast. Each week the comedian-turned-sage has a different expert guest on the show to talk about some of the most pressing issues we face today.

Standout episodes include a discussion of addiction and mental health with Dr Gabor Maté, an analysis of US politics featuring black Republican commentator Candace Owens, and “Hooked on Tech – Can we ever be free again?”, featuring Douglas Rushkoff.

2. Historical: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Millions of listeners tune in to hear Dan Carlin’s wacky theories and the questions he asks about the past. By no means a traditional historian, his style of narration makes for very good storytelling and fascinating listening.

Carlin’s podcasts are downloaded in their thousands by a devoted band of listeners, so may well strike a chord with you.

3. Science/Factual: The Infinite Monkey Cage

Presented by rock star astrophysicist Professor Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince, this podcast is for any science fan who wants things explained simply, and with a bit of fun.

You’ll laugh out loud while listening, at the same time as expanding your knowledge about the complexities of the universe.

4. Environmental: Costing the Earth

Ideal for any Extinction Rebellion supporters out there, or anyone concerned about our impact on the environment.

If you’re looking for updates and glimmers of good news in debates about climate change and the future of the planet, this one’s for you.

5. Weird and wonderful: Lost Origins

If you like talking about aliens and unusual, unexplained facts and findings (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you will love Lost Origins.

A slightly leftfield offering, for a slightly leftfield topic.

Published: 30 August 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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