What is a Good Life? #56
Living An Enchanted Life with Dr. Simon Western
On the 56th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I am delighted to introduce our guest, Dr. Simon Western. Simon is the author of "Leadership: a Critical Text," Founder of both the Eco-Leadership Institute and Analytic-Network Coaching, and the host of the Edgy Ideas podcast. Simon brings a vast breadth of experience with him having previous roles as a general nurse, psychiatric nurse, family therapist, and psychotherapist.
In this episode, Simon shares his journey with his lifelong question, "What is a good life?" From prioritising freedom to exploring other cultures, politics, and music as a teenager, to traveling widely and wandering the deserts, and being with his melancholy, he discusses the profound influence connecting with his sadness and grief has had on his life and career.
We question the influence of modernity and our need to label, measure, and put everything in boxes on the quality of our relationships, our sense of dislocation, and separation from each other and the natural world.
Finally, we consider how we might re-enchant our culture once more, whether that is connecting to the soul, reengaging with mystery, or creating more awareness of our interconnections and dependencies.
If you are feeling a sense of dislocation in your life or are struggling to feel a sense of aliveness and connection to the world around you, Simon’s experiences in life will give you so much to contemplate as well as inspiration to explore areas of life you may well be neglecting.
The weekly clip from the podcast (6 mins), my weekly reflection (4 mins), the full podcast (49 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
I’ve set up a weekly conversation group that takes place every Wednesday at 7pm (CET) on Zoom, it incorporates silence and authentic communication without going into our life stories or introductions - sharing thoughts and experiences from what is emerging in the moment. It is completely free and there is no obligation to speak at it nor attend it more than once. I’m creating a course and I’m experimenting with different themes and design. The last two themes have been Soul and Love, tomorrow it is Home. Message me here to sign up any week.
2. My weekly reflection
In this episode, we discuss the influence of modernity, science, and rational thinking on our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the natural world. I am not suggesting these tools lack value, but I am troubled when they become our dominant ways of interpreting and feeling life. There is something I am noticing regarding our proclivity to label, measure, and put things in boxes that has a very detrimental effect on our sense of internal and external connection.
I was part of a conversation group last week where many of us suggested that as soon as we label anything or come up with a final word to describe something, we often deaden the essence of the living thing we are describing.
When we consider all the labels we attempt to put on each other now—whether nationality, gender, personality, psychological profiling, generation or age, sexuality, etc.—by the time we even get to have a meaningful connection with anyone or a real sense of the relating space we share, there are so many obstacles to actually seeing you or me for what we are. While these labels only capture the smallest fragments of what we truly are, they tell us little about the unique depths of our experiences or our souls. They put something static on something that is, in reality, always changing and revealing itself to us.
I have a recurring sentence in my head when it comes to labels: “It is easy to hate labels, but not so easy to hate another human.” If we sit down with another and cast aside the labels, if we look into each other’s eyes, share something of our inner world—there are far more similarities we are going to share than the differences that arise as a result of categorising our history, appearances, and preferences.
The more we continue to rely on labels and measurement, whether with people or our environment, we reduce our capacity to see things with curiosity or with fresh eyes. We end up getting stuck or remaining in fixed positions while everything continues to be in flux; we place ourselves in resistance to the natural movements or cycles of life. We dull our senses and our capacity to notice.
In the interview, Simon mentions how numerous clients of his are referencing a sense of dislocation in the world and a lack of belonging. I strongly sense that seeking to primarily and mostly interpret the world through a rational mind (using the word rational loosely here) is what is contributing to this malaise.
That we are losing our ability to notice and feel the subtlety of connection and our relationship to everything, to enter and engage with the mystery of the world, to feel a sense of soulfulness—whether that is individual or collective—that it heightens our sense of separateness from the nature we are, and this synthetic or mental separation is leaving us without a sense of belonging in our own world.
Quite a feat for us to have created a sense of not belonging in the only world we know? Surely that alone suggests our current means of interpretation are lacking in some aspects?
While that may sound grim, I don’t see it taking us much to remember a lot of what we have forgotten or that we no longer hold in our awareness. Whether it is simply time in nature or silence, or meandering from the lanes of experience or knowledge we are constraining ourselves to, spending undistracted time with one another, there are powerful innate forces within us that only need to be mildly stoked to recognise the deep interconnectedness of all that is.
If you’d like to work with me individually as your coach, to awaken your own self-inquiry, message me here to a arrange a free 30-minute 1-on-1 consultation
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3. Full Episode - Living An Enchanted Life with Dr. Simon Western - What is a Good Life? #56
4. This week’s Questions
Have you ever experienced something in another culture that has caused you to reflect on an aspect of your own culture you had never questioned before?
Do you have any sacred spaces in your life or for engaging with mystery and the unknown?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed around 200 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.