Podcasts – Lessons Learned from Listening

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“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass

September already – where did the summer go? Our kids started back to school this week and it feels like fall is in the air. Thank you for all the support for my 20th anniversary celebration during the month of August. As we dive back into our regular weekly posts, I wanted to share with you why I love listening to podcasts, and in particular, some of my favorite ones.

What is a podcast?

The word podcast originates from the term “Pod” as in iPod and “cast” as in broadcast. It is a digital media file that typically includes audio or video content distributed for use on computers or other portable technology devices such smartphones and tablets. For the purposes of our conversation, I will focus on the format that I use most – audio.

Podcasts are free to listeners. Some of them may incorporate some form of an advertisement. If you find a podcast that charges a fee, that is definitely the exception to the rule, and I myself have never come across one.

Podcasts have variable audio quality and formats. Some have a “talk show” format – where the host(s) and guest(s) are in a recording studio together); to an edited collection of audio files; to a recorded event; to an informal conversation over a recorder/phone/computer.

How can I listen to a podcast?

Most people listen to podcasts on their smartphones or tablets – I usually use the Podcast app on my iPhone, but sometimes I prefer to listen on my computer through iTunes. In the end, you need to determine which method suits you best and then you can search through the available podcasts based on either your interests or what’s most popular. I have set my feed preferences so that all new episodes from the podcasts I subscribe to get downloaded automatically. Other podcasting apps exist, a.k.a. podcatchers, but I like and prefer the preloaded app on my iPhone.

Most of the podcasts also have an associated website where they have show notes and other downloadable content. I find this to be very useful especially with some of the more informative podcasts related to medicine.

My subscriptions

The range of what you can listen to on a podcast is vast – health and wellness, news, personal development, how to, story telling – and the list goes on. I like to think that I am a curious person and my podcast subscriptions reflect this trait. Overall, I want to learn something, be inspired and often take-away a message. Just like anything else, not every episode is going to speak to me – even the podcasts I usually tune into – so sometimes, I do end up skipping over an episode. As with blogging, most podcasters have a schedule they follow to release new episodes so you can often know when to expect new ones to download on your feed.

The following are a few of my favourite podcasts that I have categorized below:

Medical/physician health

– The Doctor Paradox

– Explore the Space

Spiritual/life

– On Being

– 10% Happier

Personal/self development

– Bring Your Whole Self to Work

– The Tony Robbins Podcast

Stories/humanity

– This American Life

– Love Me

– Vinyl Cafe

Mystery

– Serial (I haven’t listened to Season 2 yet, but Season 1 was like a book you can’t put down…)

The benefits of listening

Each and every day, I am becoming increasingly drawn to podcasts and continually update/revise my subscription lists. Usually, instead of listening to the radio in my truck, I am usually listening to a podcast. Also, if I am cooking or doing housework, you can usually find me with my earbuds in connected to my iPhone in my pocket listening to a podcast. For me, this is not multitasking, but instead more mindful listening, as I try to stay focused on what I am listening to as opposed to allowing my mind to wander – the art of listening in an environment otherwise filled with distractions. I also think podcasts offer a way to decrease some screen time while still expanding our minds and feeling connected.

To me, podcasts are a form of social media that has so much to offer both personally and professionally. Some may argue that they are not “social” at all, but I myself have found them to be a very engaging way to connect. For instance, I have connected with some like-minded physicians on Twitter following hearing them on the Doctor Paradox. It is all about connecting, and even if that means connecting on a human level with someone else’s story.

Next week, I will touch on some of the more powerful messages I have heard from some of my favourite recent podcast episodes.

Do you enjoy podcasts? I would love to hear about your favorite one!

SaraTMD

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