Read our posts about soul

How to Access Your Creative Side

How to Access Your Creative Side

Creativity is one of the things that defines all human beings. It’s what got us out of the trees and it’s helped us change our world (for better or worse) ever since. So why is it often absent from, or pushed to the peripheries of, our lives? Mark Cass, founder of art shop chain Cass Art, has a plan to unleash the creative in all of us. “Everyone has an innate creativity, it’s what the right side of the brain is for,” Mark told us effusively. That belief has inspired him to open six London stores with the aim  of giving everyone the means, motivation and opportunity...
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Teach Yourself Empathy

Teach Yourself Empathy

Everybody’s suddenly talking about empathy, from the Dalai Lama to agony aunts, from business gurus to happiness experts. And it’s not surprising, since in the last decade neuroscientists have discovered that 98 per cent of us have empathy wired into our brains. The old story that we are basically selfish, self-interested creatures has been debunked. Our selfish inner drives exist side by side with our empathic other half. We are homo empathicus. The problem is that most of us haven’t yet learned how to switch on our neural circuitry and fulfil our empathic potential....
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The Restful Mind

The Restful Mind

“It is with our mind that we create our world.” That’s the philosophy that underpins The Restful Mind, a new book by His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa that aims to show readers how to “open it up and let the world in.”  Dokhampa has earned an international reputation for making the life-changing parts of Buddhist thought approachable and easy to understand. In the introduction to this book he makes the case that there are so many things in the world that we can’t control and they are usually the things that get us down, why not forget about them and focus on the things we...
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Let’s Do Lunch – in a Graveyard

Let’s Do Lunch – in a Graveyard

When I tell people that, for four years, I have spent most of my spare time in graveyards, they always look a little alarmed. They shouldn’t. In the process of writing and researching my book Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die, I have visited scores of graveyards: grand and tiny, Victorian and modern, manicured and tumbledown.  Not depressing, nor weird, they are fascinating places with so many things to notice: those names (like Myrtle, Ethel etc) you’d forgotten existed, intriguing epitaphs, and some amazing monuments which, in places such as Highgate in...
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Culture Tip: The Circle

Culture Tip: The Circle

I was racing through Dave Eggers' The Circle over Christmas and enjoying it so much, I just had to tweet something about it. But what? "Am loving the way this book makes social media sound like a totalitarian state #1984"  Or "Mister Cool Dave Eggers is acting like a technophobic dinosaur" Or simply "Step away from the screens!"? To explain. This novel is about a young woman, Mae Holland,  who gets a job at a Google-(or is it Facebook?)like company and gets drawn further and further into a technological takeover of her life. What starts out as social...
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CULTURE TIP: Christmas Films

CULTURE TIP: Christmas Films

Christmas movies are the Stilton of the seasonal cheeseboard. They’re big and smelly but it wouldn’t be Christmas without a slice of their sentiment. Our familiarity with them  builds a wonderful sense of continuity. Like  Christmas itself, you know what to expect. And if the Christmas that lies ahead may not be all that you hoped,  or you are feeling low or lost or wishing you were anywhere else, they are a wonderful distraction.  Here are Welldoing.org’s top five mincemeat-flavoured cinema treats   It’s a Wonderful Life: the incomparable James...
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Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

Two Poems To Help With Anxiety

As we approach Christmas, poetry may help you keep body and soul together. For while mid-winter is a season of joy and cheer, is also an anxious time for many. I measure my own sense of overwhelm by how often I lose my keys and whether I resort to keeping them chained round my neck. (They are sitting heavily on my chest as I type.) A couple of poems have helped stem my worries during the mad busyness of the last few weeks, secular prayers which have brought consolation. One is a classic and long-time favourite, the other not yet published. Both in their way have...
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CULTURE TIP: The Luminaries

CULTURE TIP: The Luminaries

Not everyone is going to love the Man Booker Prize-winning blockbuster, The Luminaries. But I did. And not only because the author is a New Zealander (as I am), and the youngest person to ever scoop the £50,000 jackpot. It’s a deep, rich treasure of a book with an empathetic heart. Perfect for the longeuers of Christmas in front of a fire. Set in the 1860s, it starts with a mysterious combination of occurrences: a rich young landowner has disappeared, a prostitute has tried to kill herself, and a large sum of money is found in the house of a dying man. A dozen locals...
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Understanding the Psychology of Your Home

Understanding the Psychology of Your Home

Homes are more than places to live in. They might keep the rain off our heads but they also house a whole host of other issues, things that resonate with us on a deep and symbolic level, a kind of physical manifestation of all our hopes and fears. That’s why when architects are commissioned to design someone’s home, they are also hired to perform a range of way more occult services. You’re there as much to interpret a client’s dreams, intuit their desires, divine their relationships, personalities and attempt to materialise these things into the very fabric of their...
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Blue Really is the Warmest Colour

Blue Really is the Warmest Colour

Some movies are disposable entertainment, leaving nothing behind but the ticket stub. But Blue is the Warmest Colour is not one of them. It’s been two weeks now since I saw it, and – no kidding – I've thought or talked about it everyday, including an intense conversation with Anthony Lane, the man who reviewed it (rapturously) for The New Yorker. My assistant Claudine saw the film last night and we've been discussing it since she arrived this morning. It’s not the 7-minute lesbian sex scene or the controversy around whether the director exploited his young female...
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