Listening to This Podcast Offered Me a True Mental Getaway During the Pandemic

Andrew Bird’s “Meditative Story” was exactly the escape I needed from lockdown stress.

fizkes / Shutterstock
fizkes / Shutterstock

As thrilling and enriching as it is living in New York City, it can feel overstimulating at times. The sensory onslaught and rapid pace of life is a lot to take in, and sometimes all I want is to do is get out for a while for a breath of fresh air and some peace. And while I’ve been sheltering in place for the last couple of months during the coronavirus pandemic, my craving for those things is as strong as ever.

This is what’s drawn me to singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird year after year. Listening to his music, layered with rich strings, vocals, and natural elements like wind and whistling, is one of my favorite ways to mentally transport myself and recharge, even if I can’t physically leave the city chaos. And now, having been stuck inside my apartment for what’s felt like an eternity, my itch to get away somewhere, anywhere, is insatiable. 

It’s precisely this feeling of wanting to get away from the noise and bustle that drove a young Andrew Bird to leave city life. Seeking a slower pace and new creative inspiration, he traded his Chicago apartment for his family’s remote farmhouse in the upper Mississippi valley. 

Bird illustrates this journey in a special collaboration with the podcast “Meditative Story” — a first-of-its-kind immersive storytelling podcast created by WaitWhat and Thrive, sponsored by Salesforce. His original instrumentation ebbs and flows in the background, lending an almost film-like quality to the arc of his story. All the while, mindfulness prompts interspersed throughout the episode encourage you to check in with yourself, grounding your sense of well-being no matter where you are. (Yes, even if you’re sheltering in your apartment during a pandemic.)

While I don’t typically turn to podcasts when I’m feeling a need for renewal, I found Bird’s story immersive, engaging, and — what I appreciate more than anything right now — restorative. The moment I put my headphones on, my mind started to quiet, my breath slowing and deepening. My anxious rumination gave way to noticing and appreciating all the little details in his music that underscore his narrative: a new melodic theme echoing another, or an unexpected reverb on a familiar instrument. I may not have been able to escape my city, yet for a little while it felt like my mind went on its own refreshing getaway.

To take a mental vacation of your own, click here to listen to Andrew Bird’s “Meditative Story” and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

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