Episode 168: Leigh Marz and Justin Zorn

On the golden moments of quiet and the depths of healing available in silence.
  • 0:42 – Introducing Leigh Marz and Justin Zorn; Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise
  • 2:35 – The origins of Golden; How can we be helpful and effective in making things better? The answers lie in the silence. Writing about silence for Harvard Business Review.
  • 5:10 – What’s the deepest silence you have ever known? Not just the absence of noise, but a presence. Notice noise, tune in to silence. 1) Pay attention to the diverse forms of auditory, informational and internal interference. Study how to navigate them. 2) Perceive the small pockets of peace that live amidst all the sounds and stimuli. Seek these spaces. 3) Cultivate spaces of profound silence.
  • 7:55- How we can find the most pristine attention possible when is only available for a very short time. Finding presence in silence. Exploring booming and rapturous silence.
  • 9:30 – The attention economy and its impact on presence in silence. Is life really louder? Yes, across Europe, an estimated 450 million people (65% of the population) live with noise levels deemed hazardous to our health. Every two days we produce as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization to 2003.
  • 12:15 Our pristine attention is measured at 0 according to GDP. It doesn’t have a value unless it’s chopped up and turned to revenue. We often mistake feelings of stress for aliveness. Attention taken to its highest degree is the same thing as prayer.
  • 15:35 – Silence is renewal. Silence can reset the nervous system. Silence is Humility. Silence is accepting that it’s ok to not fill the space. Silence is clarity. Silence is expansion. Silence is the essence of life itself when there is nothing making claims on our consciousness.
  • 17:35 – The Creative ACT: A Way of Being; Jarvis Jay Masters, writer and Buddhist on death row for 32 years for a crime he did not commit.
  • 20:05 – Compassion is a doorway to silence. Experiencing Covid in San Quentin. “It’s not about you right now.”
  • 22:10 – The way to quiet the noise in these impossible situations is to quiet the responses to the noise. Silence might interrupt the sadness of never understanding ourselves.
  • 24:10 – What helps you stop? A yoga practice, meditation practice, chanting, tea rituals, creating circumstances to be doing what you love all the time.
  • 27:25 – Enjoy deeply what you’re doing vs being lost in unwanted distraction. Keeping connection with what animates life. Appreciation that leads to love. Holding the heart. Reconnecting to the heart and body.
  • 30:05 – Coming back to the place where nothing is making claims on the consciousness, even in the midst of intense noise, fear and uncertainty.
  • 32:50 – Silence and quiet can come just in a moment, and in infinite ways. Facing ourselves in silence means having the courage to become more aware of what’s been hidden.
  • 34:50 – Getting a little closer to our intuition. Cyrus Habib – serving from a place of intuition. Turning down the noise of life in order to hear the signals of the heart.
  • 37:00 – Getting beyond the noise of other people’s expectations. Becoming a connoisseur of creation. Attention stability and balance.
  • 39:20 – Baelyn Neff – @allmattersofspirit – Stay with the Tea. Idea #7 – Presence is having all your energy and attention at your disposal, and not inaccessible because of worry, distraction, anxiety or chronic tension.
  • 43:15 – Cynthia Bourgeault – Never do something in a state of internal brace. In the midst of noise, quiet down and keep going.

Silence isn’t just the absence of noise. It’s a presence that brings us energy, clarity, and deeper connection.

Justin Zorn and Leigh Marz take us on an unlikely journey–from the West Wing of the White House to San Quentin’s death row; from Ivy League brain research laboratories to underground psychedelic circles; from the temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park to the main stage at a heavy metal festival–to explore the meaning of silence and the art of finding it in any situation.

Golden reveals how to go beyond the ordinary rules and tools of mindfulness. It’s a field guide for navigating the noise of the modern world–not just the noise in our ears but also on our screens and in our heads. Drawing on lessons from neuroscience, business, spirituality, politics, and the arts, Marz and Zorn explore why auditory, informational, and internal silence is essential for physical health, mental clarity, ecological sustainability, and vibrant community.

With vital lessons for individuals, families, workplaces, and whole societies, Golden is an engaging and unexpected rethinking of the meaning of quiet. Marz and Zorn make the bold and convincing argument that we can repair our world by reclaiming the presence of silence in our lives.

Justin Talbot Zorn has served as both a policymaker and a meditation teacher in the U.S. Congress. A Harvard- and Oxford-trained specialist in the economics and psychology of well-being, Justin has written for the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, and other publications. He is cofounder of Astrea Strategies, a consultancy that bridges contemplation and action, helping leaders and teams envision and communicate solutions to complex challenges. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife and three children.

Leigh Marz is a collaboration consultant and leadership coach for major universities, corporations, and federal agencies as well as a longtime student of pioneering researchers and practitioners of the ritualized use of psychedelic medicines in the West. In her professional work, she has led diverse initiatives, including a training program to promote an experimental mindset among teams at NASA and a decade-long cross-sector collaboration to reduce toxic chemicals in products, in partnership with Green Science Policy Institute, Harvard University, IKEA, Google, and Kaiser Permanente. She is the cofounder of Astrea Strategies. Leigh lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and daughter.

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