Meditative Story

By WaitWhat + Thrive Global

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Meditative Story combines extraordinary human stories with meditation prompts embedded into the storylines — all surrounded by breathtaking music. Think of it as an alternative way into a mindfulness practice, through vivid stories and cinematic music and production values. Meditative Story is produced by WaitWhat in partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global. Our community tells us that they listen to the same episodes over and over again, and according to data provided by Apple Podcasts, Meditative Story may have the highest engagement of any podcast in the world. And that makes us proud! Thank you, Salesforce, for sponsoring Meditative Story.

Episode Date
Life and love and the moment, by Arianna Huffington

A glossy picture on the cover of a magazine. That’s all it takes for a teenaged Arianna Huffington to decide she’s going to leave her family and home – and the activity and warmth of her mom’s kitchen table – to start something new. Without speaking the language, or even knowing how to get there, Arianna decides she’s going to start a new life in a new place, propelled forward by her mom’s wise sense that life isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about having the adventure.

Read the transcript for this story at

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Aug 05, 2020
Have faith, but tie your camel first, by Wajahat Ali

It's early morning. A hotel room. Wajahat Ali, playwright and author, is traveling for work when he gets a call from his wife – she's sobbing, panicked, heartbroken. Their tiny daughter, Nusayba, has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. And time stops. What can he do? Rage. Despair. Sob. Fight. Then ... let go. Waj shares the story of how his young daughter's fight with cancer taught him to strike a delicate balance between faith and action, between exhausting his efforts and accepting the outcome.

Jul 29, 2020
What my father gave me, by Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin grows up in a dangerous house. There’s a dad with a hair-trigger temper. But there’s also a dad who builds things, and who plays music, who teaches Shawn how to play a guitar. Years later, an out-of-the-blue phone call gives Shawn the opportunity to explain to her dad what her childhood was like – and to forgive him. In this act of compassion, Shawn is able to let go of her own burden and find compassion for herself — who she is now and the lost little kid she used to be.

Jul 22, 2020
Where the water takes me, by Donald Miralle

Twenty-four long miles into a grueling paddleboard competition, photographer Donald Miralle sights the buoy that tells him he's just a few miles from home. But what should offer a sense of relief provokes a feeling of dread. His body shuts down, his muscles refuse to work, his motivation dwindles. With nothing left to summon, he is desperate to quit. That’s when Donald spots a shadow in the water: a massive, majestic blue whale, serenely passing beneath his board. The rare sighting inspires awe in Donald, and an acceptance of forces beyond his control -- the wind, the waves, the tide and the whale. With restored confidence, Donald moves through his fear by leaning into the training that has prepared him for moments like this. And makes his way to shore.

Jul 15, 2020
Creating my own sanctuary, by Angela Ahrendts

The strawberry field past the maple tree. A hidden nook beneath the stairs. The magical hour before anyone else is awake. Throughout her life, Angela Ahrendts has sought out sanctuaries – sacred spaces to reconnect and to dream, quiet moments to visualize what her next big decision might lead to, to stay open to the signs that help guide her. Now, after a series of bold career choices, Angela reflects on the decades-long journey that has brought her to this moment, and comes to realize that with each new day she has an opportunity to discover a new sanctuary -- because the truest sanctuary is the one within us all.

Jul 08, 2020
America's jam session, by Pastor Otis Moss

As Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Otis Moss carries the torch for generations of church and civil rights leaders, including his own father, a regional director in the SCLC, and a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. But it is his late sister Daphne whose influence most impacts his ministry and social advocacy. A brilliant young woman who struggled with schizophrenia, Daphne introduced a young Otis to what he calls “the continuum” – a spirituality born of poetry, literature and jazz that has woven its way through our history. Drawing as much from the beats of J Dilla as from the speeches of Dr. King; from the politics of Public Enemy as from the poetry of Langston Hughes; from John Coltrane and Miles Davis as from Reinhold Niebuhr and Abraham Joshua Heschel, Pastor Moss shares a timely, deeply personal story about the American jazz narrative -- how a disparate and diverse people who are not supposed to make music together do – and do so beautifully.

Music by Ryan Holladay and Jonathan Mouton. Follow Jonathan on Instagram: @entertainer4lyfe

Read the transcript for this story at

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Jun 24, 2020
A more spacious response to life, by Judith Grisel

Judith Grisel is an internationally recognized behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychology known for her research on the role of the brain in drug addiction. She is also a former addict. Years into her sobriety, Judy still labors to escape the painful feelings of loneliness and emptiness that have been with her since childhood. But when a friend presents her with a puzzling gift – an empty bowl – she is finally able to embrace the difficult feelings she’s spent a lifetime evading, and make peace with them.

Jun 17, 2020
There's no one way, by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is an expert on happiness, and she's spent her career helping people build the habits to achieve it. But she assumed that if something works for her, it should work for just about anyone. A series of chance encounters, and a healthy helping of curiosity, makes Gretchen realize that maybe there isn't one path to happiness after all. That there's no right or wrong way to build a meaningful life, just the way that works for you. 

Learn more at

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Jun 10, 2020
A meditation to welcome change, by Rohan Gunatillake

For many of us, the days are stretching out, copies, duplicates of one another. But there is change happening around us, time is moving forward. This meditation, led by host Rohan Gunatillake, is about noticing that change – outside and within. Mediation can help you become an expert on your internal seasons and habits. When we begin to notice that we change, that seasons change, we start to disbelieve the story that ‘things are always going to be like this’ – and that is magic.

Read the transcript at

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Jun 03, 2020
Giving birth to a wiser self, by Elizabeth Lesser

One icy morning on a Vermont farm, Elizabeth Lesser is witness to a miraculous thing: the birth of a bleary, bleating baby lamb. Years later, as a midwife, she is still filled with this sense of awe and wonder at every birth. It’s through that process of coaching new life into the world, she learns how to sit through the difficult – even the painful – moments in her own: a divorce, a new career, even death. She begins to understand that we must all stay open to the wild pulse of life to give birth to our wiser selves.

May 27, 2020
Listening to the space around you, by Andrew Bird

The chaotic nature and noise of life as a musician — touring from city to city — eventually erodes Andrew Bird's ability to hear the music that is really inside of him. In a courageous effort to understand the faint calling of sound playing in his head, Andrew deserts his Chicago apartment for a rural piece of land where he believes an old farmhouse might unlock his personal renewal as an experimental multi-instrumentalist musician. There inside the reverberating wooden walls of a dilapidated barn, he begins to recalibrate — seeing, sensing, and interpreting the space around him musically. Rather than imposing his vision on the world, Andrew's music becomes a reflection of what the surrounding environment is trying to tell him. He learns that sometimes a sense of connectedness is easier to achieve alone, where you're able to find out what's happening inside you in order to make it sing outwards.

May 20, 2020
Tracking the path of the sun, by Lehua Kamalu

Lehua Kamalu captains a vast, double-hulled ocean canoe crafted to the exact specifications of the seafaring vessels used by her ancestors. She and her crew are making a 2,500 mile journey between Tahiti and Hawaii, the same one original settlers of the South Pacific traversed, the same journeys historians once struggled to believe possible without today’s technology. The stakes are high and they sail the way their ancestors sailed, taking their cues from the water and wind. Lehua stays alert and patient hours on end. It’s only by being grounded in the signs that Lehua can anticipate the possibilities. And it’s only by staying present that Lehua can take in the magic of the open water — and draw from that magic to sustain herself when each journey ends, as they inevitably do.

May 13, 2020
I let go of my plan — and found myself, by Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett’s early years aren't what you’d expect knowing who she is today. As a journalist and political aide in divided Berlin in the '80s, she led a life of importance, where she was surrounded by power, where every decision mattered. But when a window opened to step away from that heady life, she found a new space – and time to ask herself what mattered. She shares her story to remind us how we can find meaning in unexpected places.

May 05, 2020
When words fail, by Thomas Chatterton Williams

American cultural critic, Thomas Chatterton Williams is deeply in love with his French wife, Valentine. Accustomed to exquisite command over the English word, Thomas loses agency over his life when he and Valentine move to Paris. When they welcome their first child, Marlow, for the first time in his life he can't disclose himself — not fully — to a person he loves through language. When words fail, it's his six-year daughter who builds the bridge to her father, and helps expand his own sense of self — in language, in life, and in love — to truly get home.

Apr 28, 2020
Changing the soundtrack of our lives, by Jule Hall

Jail has a way of warping time. Changes on the outside world are locked away from those inside. Upon his release after serving 17 locked-up years, Jule recounts the moment he first sets eyes on a smartphone. The prison noises he is escaping — the yelling, the constant blaring of the radio, metal-on-metal echoing of cell bars — are replaced by the incessant pings and notifications of his new iPhone. His novice observations about the technology we wrap our lives around reveal a truth that perhaps we can no longer see ourselves.

Apr 22, 2020
Loving our living world, by Carl Safina

We all need to love and be loved, we all want to feel not alone in this world. And this is true for all of the living world, says ecologist and author Carl Safina. Carl has spent his whole life interacting with the wild, from raising pigeons on a Brooklyn rooftop to trekking through the frozen landscape of Antarctica and the vast African savanna. And one thing he’s learned is that humans and animals alike, we’re all striving to connect. We’re all craving to establish bonds, to reach out, and to hold someone close. We all want to be loved – and to love ourselves.

Apr 14, 2020
Trust the world to show its goodness, by Shea Hembrey

Shea Hembrey is 5 years old, walking along the road to his farmhouse on the edge of the Mississippi River Delta, where the floodplains meet the Ozark Mountain foothills. The undulating hills surrounded by dense rows of oak, sassafras, sugarberry, and persimmon trees. He spots a pale, smooth-polished fleck: an egg! “This is a baby bird,” he tells his parents. “And I’m going to hatch it.” From that point forward, his willingness to be patient – to let what is already there reveal itself – opens up the world to show its goodness. We all possess this kind of wonderful intuition, but you must pay attention to that knowing feeling and start to trust it.

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Apr 04, 2020
A meditation for the moment, by Rohan Gunatillake

None of us has ever faced a moment like this. It is heartbreaking and exhausting and ever changing and yet... days seem to blur together. In this Meditative Story, there is no storyteller – but there are stories. Host Rohan Gunatillake is here with a meditation that meets the moment, one that invites you to stop. Breath. Name the difficult. And maybe, just maybe, find some hope in what is happening right now.

Mar 31, 2020
Our tiny meaningful lives in the vast universe

In this classic episode, while working on an experiment to measure the age of the universe, astronomer Michelle Thaller is reminded once again about both the impersonal immensity around us, and the deeply personal significance of each one of us.

Mar 21, 2020
Adapting to life's unexpected nature, by Forrest Galante

Jackals and leopards in the fields. The sound of a lion’s roar. Majestic African bush elephants outside the front door. This is childhood for Forrest Galante as a kid growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe. He’s adventurous and instinctive and connected to the living earth. But a sudden move to the U.S. puts him in a completely new territory. In discovering this new urban world in front of him, Forrest learns that the key for all of us, to key to survival, is to adapt.

Mar 17, 2020
Stories my father told me, by Lindsey Stirling

There he is: pacing around the campfire, contemplating, ruminating. Then, with a crooked, mischievous smile, he begins. “Here’s a story…” This is a memory violinist Lindsey Stirling will always carry of her dad, the tireless storyteller, telling the tallest of tales, dreaming the biggest of dreams. But also a man who couldn't quite see his life-changing impact on others because of the disappointments that befell his own life. In looking back, Lindsey comes to realize that whatever becomes of us, what endures are the stories we create while trying to figure it all out.

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Mar 10, 2020
The art class, by Jay Shetty

"Why?” asks an insistent high school art teacher. “Why? Why? Why?” Staring blankly back, a young Jay Shetty has nothing to say. It’s an art project, it's just homework. A collage. It’s just … layers. The next day in a subway station, Jay's chance encounter with an ad peeling off the wall unlocks the truest answer. What he discovers that day about himself carries forward into college, when Jay meets a fellow student who's consumed by negativity and pain. There, the art project from so many years ago comes in handy in ways he never anticipates.

Read Jay Shetty's book Think Like a Monk (listen to Think Like a Monk as an audiobook read by Jay).

Jay hosts the podcast On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

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Mar 02, 2020
Bonus episode: Stories of acceptance

Acceptance is about honesty – radical honesty. Seeing the world for what it is, and using it as the platform for wise action. Enjoy four stories from Season 1 that share moments of insight, honesty and change, from Moj Mahdara, Catherine Reitman, Jane McGonigal and Thomas Page McBee.

Feb 24, 2020
Bonus episode: Stories of renewal

Sometimes life hands you an opportunity to renew. It may be a life-threatening stroke, a break in a relationship, or simply a growing sense that your direction needs changing. These five stories — of recovery, rediscovery and growth — come from Season 1 of Meditative Story. Listen all at once, or save each short story for when you need a mini break in your day.

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Feb 10, 2020
Riding waves, by Paola Antonelli

One summer night Paola Antonelli, now curator and head of R&D at the MoMA, sets sail off the coast of Sardinia — snaking through the wavy sea with friends. She jumps off the boat, slides into the water, and makes her way to the rocks as her friends hang back, making dinner aboard. While keeping her eyes on the horizon and the setting sun, her mind wanders to the rockier questions in her life: How will she make the right choice for her future? The answer, she realizes, is right in front of her. Life is just like sailing: Some days there are bright skies, some days rolling waves. She just has to look for the right winds and waves to take her where she wants to go.

Jan 27, 2020
Making humanity appear, magically, by DeRay Mckesson

DeRay Mckesson is one of America’s most recognized and admired activists. But before that, he was magician. Not the kind who pulls a rabbit out of hat, but the kind who makes communities magically appear out of thin air. Every school DeRay ever attends, his name appears on the ballot for president of the student body. Why? Because through something as simple as student government, DeRay is able to bring people together in astonishing ways you just can’t see coming. Through countless elections and one seemingly impossible feat after another, DeRay designs the kind of world we all want to live. There’s no illusion or ticket about it. But it is magic.

Jan 20, 2020
Through friendship, a better version of myself, by Reid Hoffman

How do you find joy in your life? For entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author Reid Hoffman, it’s through the act of genuine, honest, and intimate conversations with friends. Once a self-described misfit, in college, Reid finds his place. He connects with people who share not necessarily his interests but his curiosity, and his dedication to asking big questions. It is in asking the big questions, in discussing the answers, that Reid learns and grows – and begins to discover the meaning of his life.

Jan 13, 2020
Finding a way in, by Sinéad Burke

One person can be the vehicle by which somebody else can feel seen and known. This is something that Sinéad Burke sees every day in her classroom. Her achondroplasia teaches her how to turn everything that excludes into something that includes, by finding common ground, by finding a way in. What can you do to build a way in for someone?

Jan 07, 2020
My funny, feisty, thoughtful, brave girl, by Lucy Kalanithi

A mesmerizing story about the wisdom and delight you can find — even in the midst of tragic loss — by seeing life and death through the eyes of a child. Storyteller Lucy Kalanithi is the widow of Paul Kalanithi, who wrote the best-selling memoir "When Breath Becomes Air,” published posthumously in 2016. This story is a coda to his memoir.

Read "When Breath Becomes Air."

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Read the transcript for this episode.

Jan 02, 2020
Acting as if you are bold, by A.J. Jacobs

How do you build rapport with another person quickly? How do you bond? Author A.J. Jacobs shares a Meditative Story about the day he found himself on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", and how courage to take a risk might just be the best way to connect with someone else.

Dec 17, 2019
Creating space to stand in truth, by Susan David

Psychologist and author Susan David invites us into the sad days after she loses her father as a child – and the kind teacher who helped her carve out space to feel her grief and sadness honestly. It's a lesson she takes into her own journey as a parent.

Dec 10, 2019
Learning to see what is in front of me, by Siri Hustvedt

To truly see what is right in front us, requires the practice of looking, of careful and sustained attention – without expectation or judgment. Join author and essayist Siri Hustvedt on an hours long trip to the museum spent in front of just one painting. And discover more than just what's on the canvas.

Dec 03, 2019
Standing in my own truth, by Moj Mahdara

As a teen growing up in a traditional household and struggling to share her true identity, Moj Mahdara finds her path through her two grandmothers — who couldn’t be more different than one another. Under blankets, sharing secrets and stories, Moj learns that, generations before her, family members had fought to define themselves too. It is through old souls that Moj finds the strength to stand her own truth.

Hear music from Moj's paternal grandmother, Moluk Anghoz (1934–2007), known as Afat:

See Afat performing here and here. You can also hear Afat sing, accompanied with some amazing photos as well.

Nov 26, 2019
Starting the story of my life again, by Keith Yamashita

How do you rebuild a life after it very nearly ends? Entrepreneur Keith Yamashita tells his own story of how he learned to live again after a devastating stroke, to nourish himself and the world, and to take each moment as it comes.

Nov 19, 2019
Surrendering my old identity — and finding myself, by Catherine Reitman

As an actor and a new mom, Catherine Reitman felt pulled between two competing identities. To capture her frustration, her sadness, her truth, she wrote it all down. In sharing her darkness, she found a way to turn a light on for someone else.

Nov 14, 2019
Allowing sound to reveal life’s wonder, by Stephen Kuusisto

Author and poet Stephen Kuusisto, who is blind, hears life expressed in sound, the weird and wonderful chance music of everyday life. And he's able to find meaning, big and small, in it all.

Nov 05, 2019
One envelope at a time, by Hannah Brencher

When's the last time you hand-wrote a letter? Author Hannah Brencher shares a simple story about the value of connecting on paper.

Oct 29, 2019
Navigating life in my own skin, by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

In precisely chosen words, the writer, artist and Zen priest Zenju Earthlyn Manuel tells a story from her girlhood, a road trip from LA to Louisiana in 1957. While five-year-old Zenju sits in the back seat dreaming of cowboys, her parents navigate an altogether different landscape. From them, from the trip, Zenju now believes she’s learned how to find her way in the world, in her skin.

Oct 22, 2019
Finding permission to pursue my own dreams, by Josh Radnor

Actor, filmmaker, and musician Josh Radnor takes us back to his very first time on stage — and introduces us to someone who gave him the push he needed to be true to himself. Please note that this episode includes language about self harm.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online.

Oct 15, 2019
Hitting the open road to find my way home, by Peter Sagal

NPR host Peter Sagal shares the story of a motorcycle trip he took through the middle of America – and how it gave him the space he needed to navigate.

Oct 08, 2019
Finding my own reflection, by Jane McGonigal

What's is like to be an identical twin? Game designer Jane McGonigal tells a story of similarity and divergence as she explores the magic of sharing DNA while becoming an individual.

Oct 01, 2019
How to find -- and feed -- your passion, by Danny Meyer

Restaurateur Danny Meyer takes us back to where it all began for him: a family trip to Europe and a simple plate of pasta. That memorable meal sparked a lifetime practice of discovery that continues to feed his creativity and his soul.

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Sep 24, 2019
The perfect photograph I never took, by John Moore

While filming one day in the Congo Rainforest, legendary photojournalist John Moore pursued the vision of a perfect photograph -- a vision that literally brought him to his knees. He shares the magic that can occur when you let go of the desire to control the outcome.

Sep 17, 2019
I let go of my plan — and found myself, by Krista Tippett

Krista Tippett, the host of "On Being", talks about the time she took a break from the intensity of life and just stopped to check in with herself – with deeply unexpected results.

Sep 10, 2019
Fighting my fears – and winning in spite of losing, by Thomas Page McBee

Author and journalist Thomas Page McBee takes us into the boxing ring at Madison Square Garden, where he finds answers to some of his most profound questions through fighting – and along the way discovers what happens when you stop trying to win.

Sep 03, 2019
Building a bond with my son, by Dan Harris
Aug 27, 2019
This Human Moment: Our small, significant place in the universe, by Michelle Thaller

For this human moment, join astronomer Michelle Thaller as she contemplates the night sky. We’re such a small part of the universe – and yet so significant within it.

Aug 22, 2019
Our tiny meaningful lives in the vast universe, by Michelle Thaller
Aug 20, 2019
To visualize ... and then make it so, by Larry Jackson
Aug 13, 2019
Life and love and the moment, by Arianna Huffington
Aug 06, 2019
A home that had been waiting for me forever, by Pico Iyer
Aug 02, 2019
My funny, feisty, thoughtful, brave girl, by Lucy Kalanithi
Jul 30, 2019
Introducing Meditative Story
Jul 22, 2019
Introducing Meditative Story
Jul 09, 2019