Open Questions has a new home!

Open Questions has finally migrated to its new home at http://www.openquestionspodcast.com/. The old episodes will stay here for a while but the new ones will be published only at the new site. The self-installed version of Word Press allows to be more independent and creative with the website design, which would allow us to add some additional features.

If you subscribed through iTunes, this should not influence the feed. Please let us know if you encounter a problem of any kind in connection with the site switch by sending a mail at oqpodcast[at]gmail.com. 

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OQ13: Buddhism: what’s in it for me?

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Episode description:

What can the teachings of Buddha offer to us, people living in the fast-paced Western world of today? How can the Buddhist practice of meditation help us build capacity to face the world as it is?

Contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism, Stephen Batchelor in his book Buddhism Without Beliefs: A contemporary guide to Awakening “ explains that what the Buddha taught was not something to believe in or understand but rather something to do. He writes: “The dharma is not a belief by which you will be miraculously saved. It is a method to be investigated and tried out. It starts by facing up to the primacy of anguish, then proceeds to apply a set of practices to understand the human dilemma and work toward a resolution.” (p. 18)

On this show Irina speaks with a long time Buddhist practitioner and teacher Ken McLeod.Ken began his studies in 1970 with the Tibetan meditation master, the Ven. Kalu Rinpoche and is one of the few people in the West who did two three-year retreats.

Ken is a translator from Tibetan and is the author of the books Wake up to your life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention and An arrow to the heart. He is a founder and the executive director of the non-profit Buddhist service organization The Unfettered Mind, which he established in 1990 and which provides instruction, training programs and guidance in Buddhist methods for being awake in your life. The tagline on the organization website reads – Pragmatic Buddhism.

Together with Dave Radden Ken developed an executive coaching and consulting practice, applying the skills and methods of Buddhism in the corporate environment. His clients included Volvo Design, ReadyPac, HBO, Warner Bros., TimeWarner, and others.

In this conversation Ken talks to us about the central question within Buddhism, explains why we are better off experiencing emotions rather than expressing or suppressing them, how meditation can help us bild capacity to see things as they are and how meditating on death and impermanence can help us understand and accept death as a part of life. 

Featured music track:

We close the episode with Uma visita - the track by Brazilian-born musician Raphael Oliviera who can be heard playing the soft rhythms of bossanova in Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden.





Episode related resources:

Unfettered Mind – Pragmatic Buddhism

Musings by Ken

Unfettered Mind Podcast

Unfettered Questions Podcast

Interview with Ken McLeod on Secular Buddhist Podcast

Martin & Stephen Batchelor’s website

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OQ12: Making art, making meaning (EN)

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Episode description:

In this episode Irina talks with Eric Maisel about the art of creating meaning in our life. Eric Maisel, PhD., is the author of over thirty-five published books, both fiction and nonfiction. Some of the titles are: Coaching the Artist Within, Fearless Creating, The Van Gogh Blues, The Creativity Book, Performance Anxiety, Ten Zen Seconds, A Writer’s San Francisco, and A Writer’s Paris. His latest book is called Brainstorm: Harnessing the power of productive obsessions. His new book Rethinking Depression is coming out in February 2012. Dr. Maisel gives workshops for creative professionals both in the US and Europe and also works as a creativity coach and creativity coach trainer.

Dr. Maisel holds that the time has come for us to switch from seeing meaning as something we need to search after to seeing it as only a psychological experience, something we can provoke ourselves by actively making meaning every day. Although we can make meaning in many ways, he believes that the meaning that makes us proud is value-based.

What makes you be in love with life? How do you translate your values into the everyday choices? What makes this life meaningful to you?

Featured music track:

We close the episode with Cepheus - the track by Uppsala bound musicians Larry and Fredrik.





Episode Resources:

Visit Eric Maisel’s homepage

Eric Maisel’s classes for creatives, including Your Best Life in The Arts and Noimetics: Bring Meaning to Life

Eric Maisel’s Podcast Your Purpose-Centered Life

Eric Maisel’s Podcast The Joy Of Living Creatively

Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life by Shelly Carson, PhD.

Interview with Shelly Carsson on Shrink Rap Radio Podcast 

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Marian’s journeys in images

In this blog post I collected a few photos from Marian’s journeys.

WWOOFing in Sweden in 2009 on a farm near Strängnäs.

Read the rest of this entry »

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OQ11: Marian in 2011 (EN)

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Episode description:

 International hospitality communities like CouchSurfing and Warm Showers make it possible to travel cheaper and to meet people from other cultures in their homes, something that Irina’s friend Marian Voigt particularly appreciates. In this episode Irina talks to Marian about what made him quit his well-payed job in Germany and embark on biking trips in Sweden and Australia and how being on the road challenged him and helped his personal transformation.




Featured music track:

We close the episode with the song “Among the roads” by Clara Lindsjö. Clara is the winner of Rockkarusellen 2010 and represented the Nordic countries in Loop Station World Championship 2011.




Episode related links:

Award-winning a cappella ensemble from Sweden The Real Group, that inspired Marian take his first trip to Sweden in 2009.

WWOOF (WORLD WIDE OPPORTUNITIES ON ORGANIC FARMS)

Hörnodden – the farm on lake Mälaren in Sweden where Marian worked as a “wwoofer” in 2009.

On CouchSurfing

Hospitality site for touring cyclists Warmshowers.org

Find out more about Clara Lindsjö’s music at www.myspace.com/claralindsjo

Other related resources:

Interview on Here on Earth Radio Without Boarders with Robert Penn, author of the book “It´s all about the bike: The Persuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

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OQ10: Sensing reality in the organization (EN)

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Episode description:

What is your organization’s unique role in bringing something creative into the world? What do you want its path to be? How can you get your own stuff out of the way? How can you achieve more voice and yet more speed and efficiency in the meetings? What happens when the structure of the organization ensures its differentiation from its owners?

This week Irina speaks with Brian Robertson, one of the developers of Holacracy – a fundamentally new organizational model that is based on the principles of dynamic steering. Brian has a background as software developer, entrepreneur and organizational expert. He is also the founder of Holacracy One. In this conversation Brian takes us through the principles and paradigm behind Holacracy.

Holacracy views organization as a liberated, differentiated entity with its own purpose in life, rather than as property or extension of the founders. One of the major paradigm shifts embedded in Holacracy is the shift from predict-and- control to sense-and-respond paradigm, that infuses every aspect of how we show up in organizations. Under the predict-and-control management, we try to keep our organizations in control with lots of upfront analyses, predicting where reality should be and then trying to control it in order to make it fit our predictions. This gives us an illusion of control. Sense-and-respond paradigm, on the other hand, requires that we respond to reality, rather than predict it.

Brian also talks about the way authority is distributed within the organization that runs with Holacracy and how the structure of the meetings prevents the founder of the organization from using their founder status to project and shut down the capacity of others to process their tensions. This also ensures that the founder is diffused from the organization. Finally, Brian shares some anecdotal evidence about the implementation of Holacracy in one of the organizations and explains how they at Holacracy One choose locations for their trainings and certification programs.


Featured music track:

We close the episode with Sofias escape - the song by one of Finland’s most popular accordeonists Maria Kalaniemi, here performed by the young Swedish band Morfis Bixur.

Episode Resources:

Holacracy One

Morfis Bixur Discography (SW)

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OQ09: Being with fear

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Episode description:

Why is the assumption that we are supposed to achieve a 50-50 balance between our life and our work is not only unrealistic but also prevents us from being content with our lives? What keeps us stuck in the places we don’t want to be and from moving to where we want to go? What about failing that is so frightening to us?

In this episode Irina talks over Skype with Nicola Phillips. Nicola is an author and management consultant who has worked intimately with fear and the different ways of overcoming it, since 1981. She is the author of a number of book, the latest of which is “Fear Without Loathing: Why Life/Work Balance Doesn’t Matter But You Do”.

Nicola, who works with helping clients to stay with their fear without being panicky, believes that the place we are most fearful of is the place we probably need to be. When we are fearful about a particular situation, a good place to start is to ask oneself, “What stories have I told myself about this situation that make me frightened?”  Learning to deal with our fears is about learning to separate the fear we have from our reactions to it and from the actions we take as the result of it. It is not about doing something (defending against fear) but about being (experiencing fear, staying with it).

Nicola also talks about how our fears drive us towards taking decisions, rather than making choices in our lives. She finishes the conversation by sharing some points on how to deliver bad news in the non-negotiable situations.

Featured music track:

We close the episode with the song The Love Won’t Go Away by Uppsala-based band Automagic, that is quite international: its members come from the USA, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Episode Resources:

Nicola Phillips’ page

“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping”, by Robert M. Sapolsky.

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