This week, I’ve been researching an ancient mnemonic technique called ‘the mind palace’, where people imprint a real or imagined building onto their memory – a palace, a mansion, a church, even a whole street – and then fill it with striking images, to which they attach bits of information they want to remember. The Read more…

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I’ve been working on a book provisionally entitled Modern Ecstasy for the last two years. I’m half-way through, and having a mid-season wobble. Turns out it’s difficult to write about transcendence. Who knew! Why did I pick this topic? Why, I ask you, why?! Here’s why. I owe much of my recovery from trauma to Read more…

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It’s that time of year again, when people all over Britain go off for the traditional New Year’s Vipassana retreat. But not me – this year, I decided to keep it old school. I went on a Benedictine retreat. Last Sunday, I traveled down to the Isle of Wight, to stay at Quarr Abbey (it’s Read more…

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Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I toured around Yorkshire and Northumberland, once the stronghold of English medieval monasticism. We visited the beautiful ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, which once boasted the biggest church in England. As we wandered around the ruins, I wondered what we lost, when Henry VIII dissolved more than 1000 monasteries in Read more…

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This weekend, I was at a conference in Boston called the International Symposium on Contemplative Studies. I know  – sounds pretty niche, maybe two monks, a chakra healer and a shaman with maracas?  Well, it was enormous – 1600 people, 300 presentations, including ones by some of the leading psychologists in the world, and the Read more…

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