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Episode 03

Inner Freedom - Michael Bready

Intention is normally something we associate with the thinking mind, but in this deeply insightful conversation, host Menka Sanghvi explores intention as an inner freedom, with mindfulness teacher Michael Bready. A wisdom that requires us to be in tune with our bodies, our emotions, our context - our whole selves.

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About the guest

Michael Bready is a leading mindfulness teacher, and the founder and director of Youth Mindfulness which teaches people how to share mindfulness with children and young people. He has also worked with young men in prison for many years. One of his core passions is exploring what science is telling us about the nature of human beings, and translating that into practical wisdom. He is based in Glasgow, UK.

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Episode notes

Often when we are scrolling on our phones, or responding reflexively to an email, we become passive and automated. We forget our creative power, and our potential to actively influence the reality we are part of. Michael shares how the practice of mindfulness helps us to regain that power, freedom and agency. He describes this as “the paradox of mindfulness”, that on the one hand we learn to observe and accept whatever is going on, and on the other hand we gain the clarity to be more in control of what’s happening.

Michael and Menka discuss how much we all strive for freedom and individuality, yet are easily caught by the influences that condition us - and how our desires are often shaped by what other people desire (as described by philosopher Rene Girard’s mimetic theory.) They also discuss how algorithms are increasingly taking over that role of social influence.

The conversation includes a close look at the scientific definition of habit, and the role of intentionality in forming habits. Embracing habits, and intentionally deciding what habits we want to have in life is the foundation of agency. “Do I want to stare at my phone for 2 hours at night before going to bed? Or would I prefer a different habit?” Michael asks.

All of this takes the discussion to a core insight which is that intention does not clash with spontaneity. Because if we activate our deep emotional and social circuitry, then intention becomes a state of being, something we can trust and hand over to.

In the face of these complex challenges, Michael emphasises that we can only ever act in the moment, and every small step we take - every moment of mindfulness - transforms us. So let’s be patient and kind to ourselves, and to each other, on this journey of improving our digital habits!

Bonus content

During his conversation with us in episode 3, Michael Bready kindly offered to guide Menka through a short and simple practice that he finds useful to return to throughout the day when we feel a bit disconnected.

Resources mentioned

  1. Mimetic theory of desire is an explanation of human behavior and culture which originated with the French historian and polymath René Girard.
  2. Kevin Roose’s book Futureproof: 9 Rules For Humans In the Age of Automation
  3. Research study about how star ratings influence our own appreciation of music.

Get in touch

Send us feedback, suggestions, or questions about anything you’ve heard or would like to hear:

The Digital Habit Lab Podcast is produced by Menka Sanghvi and Jonathan Garner. Thanks to Jack Fletcher for audio engineering chops and music.

Show Contributors

  • Michael Bready
  • Menka Sangvhi