Mindful Listening | Five Podcasts for Creative Inspiration

The 5 Best Podcasts for Creative Inspiration | Ruby Josephine

It seems like I have officially become one of those people that starts far too many conversations with the phrase “So I was listening to this podcast the other day and heard the most interesting thing…” 

I can’t deny it- I’m a podcast addict.

Clearly though, I am not alone in my obsession. Podcasts seem to be exploding as the new form of absorbing information, inspiration and entertainment out there in the online world. 

What is interesting is that initially, it took me quite a while to get hooked on them, especially since I have never been much of an auditory learner. I am much more inclined towards learning by seeing or even better, by doing. It is no surprise, really, that a dancer would be a primarily kinesthetic learner. I usually need to watch, move, try, and try again to really soak in and internalize any kind of information. I have never cared much for radio or even audio books, for that matter, always craving the tactile feeling of a cover and pages flipping through my fingers.

Since podcasts are purely someone yammering in your ear for anywhere from 20-90 minutes, I found it hard to connect with the material at first. It had to be edge-of-the-seat gripping, glaringly relevant to my life, or deeply thought-provoking to draw me in enough to listen for the full duration.

The first series that caught my ear and curiosity still continues to be my one true podcast love:

On Being with Krista Tippet. 

I was instantly entranced by the way she weaves delicate yet powerful conversations with people from all different backgrounds, finding and celebrating those beautiful moments of human connection. She is quite possibly the best listener I have ever encountered, which may not sound like a particularly note-worthy compliment, but it is something I admire and in my opinion, should be more recognized. Great listeners are almost always great people. 

What I discovered as I actively listened to Krista Tippet’s active listening, is that just as we can learn to become better readers by simply pushing ourselves to read more often, so can we become better listeners through practice.  I listen to podcasts while I walk, as I prepare dinner on early weeknights, and sometimes even at the gym. I try to always listen to them when I am doing something mostly physical so that I am able to give my full mental attention to what is being said, soaking it in and absorbing whatever wisdom I can. This then translates to my daily life, reminding me to be more mindful about deeply listening to my friends and family in even the most fleeting conversations.

I am sure that podcasts have taught me to be a better listener, as well as how to ask better questions of the people in my life. Through the examples set by of a handful of mindful, reflective hosts, I have learned that there is indeed such a thing as a bad question. Questions that are overly obvious or forced become apparent in contrast to the really good ones- those that go under the surface of what is already known or expected and are created out of a sense of genuine, open curiosity. They challenge and provoke, but always with an underlying base of kindness. 

The podcasts that I listen to the most, as you might have guessed, tend to be interviews with creatives, thinkers, artists, makers, and community leaders. I seek out inspiration to carry with me throughout the day and in order to pass on a little dose of that to you, I thought I would share my five favorite podcasts for when you need a creative spark in your week. Here goes:

The Best Podcasts for Creative Inspiration

On Being

On Being

Stunning conversations about spirituality and everything else that connects us deeply to each other and the world around us. I think of Krista Tippet as a true artist in the way that she is able to carefully craft and curate meaningful conversation. My dream is to just sit down and talk with her for an hour or so some day. 

Favorite episodes: while it’s hard to choose, poet Naomi Shihab Nye’s episode really stuck with me, as did the interviews with scientist Carlo Rovelli and the creator of Brainpickings, Maria Popova.

One Part Podcast

Another conversation artist of the more casual, hanging out with your intelligent and witty best-friend sort of way. I have been listening to Jessica’s podcast for a few years now and I am so impressed with the way that she has begun to fearlessly dive into more controversial and provocative topics, always approaching them with openness and true curiosity. 

Favorite episodes: Bethany Meyers on body love + gender and Celeste Headlee on empathy and meaningful conversations

One Part Podcast
Design Matters

Design Matters

Each episode is always packed full of creative inspiration- you’ll want a notepad by your side to jot down quotes and reminders. Debbie has a way of honing in on the most interesting and surprising details of each person’s individual story, exploring their source of creativity whether they are a painter, performer, business owner or world-renowned chef. 

Favorite episodes: one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, the infamous artist Marina Abramovic, and all about courage and belonging with Brene Brown.

The Jealous Curator: Art for your Ear

There are quite a few art podcasts out there and to be completely honest, I find a lot of them a little bit dull. This one, however, is more like listening in on an honest conversation between two artists, exchanging ideas and processes and telling stories that inspire and delight. 

Favorite episodes: Amy Sherald, who painted Michelle Obama’s portrait, and on getting inspired by nature with Heather Day.

The Jealous Curator: Art for your Ear
The TED Interview

The TED Interview

A newer podcast created to compliment various speaker’s TED talks that go a bit more inside of their messages and personal stories of how they got to be where they are today. If you already love TED talks, you’ll love this even more. 

Favorite episodes: Interviews with the ever-inspiring Elizabeth Gilbert and on Islam in America with Dalia Mogahed.

Go forth, listen deeper, and be sure to share your own favorite inspirational podcasts below.