Brené Brown launches hit new podcast and runs 15 minute church online

Popular researcher and speaker Brené Brown has not only catapulted straight to the top of the US podcast charts in the last week – she’s also found time to run 15 minute church services on Instagram Live.

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⁣ Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social disconnection. I miss church today. I’d like to be in communion with God, friends, and strangers this morning – learning, singing, and passing the peace.⁣ ⁣ Join us tonight on Instagram Live for a short church service. ⁣ ⁣ * Unofficial – I’m not a priest/pastor ⁣ ⁣ * Unplugged – It’s just me and my phone from my kitchen table⁣ ⁣ * Unapologetic – In the Episcopal tradition we are taught that we do NOT go to church. We are taught that WE ARE CHURCH. We can be church together. ⁣ ⁣ * Unnecessary – if you don’t believe in God or church or gathering or me or Instagram or whatever – that’s ok. We can share many other things together. No need to leave a mean comment. Things are scary enough.⁣ ⁣ * Unbelievably unnecessary – if you don’t believe I’m allowed to have church like this – that’s ok. Pray for me. Silently. ⁣ ⁣ Peace be with you. See you at 6pm!⁣

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Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston who shot to fame after her TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability (2012) became a viral hit. One of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, it has more than 45 million views. It was followed by a 2014 talk on Listening to Shame.

Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. She also is the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix: The Call to Courage.

Brown openly refers to her Christian faith and her complicated relationship with the Episcopal Church she attends and often preaches at.

The influence of her Christian faith is especially evident in her work thematically. Regularly featured are humility, honesty, human fragility and finding freedom from shame, albeit termed differently. And, with two posts by Brown inviting her Instagram followers to attend 15 minute Instagram Live church services on the past two Sundays, the faith that underpins Brown’s work may now reach a wider audience during the lockdowns of this global pandemic.

This week, though, it’s Brown’s new podcast – Unlocking Us – that has people talking. Her teaching clearly resonates with audiences facing the uncertainty of COVID-19. Her March 20 episode, for example,  deals with doing things for the first time – a lesson Brown is having to face herself as she launches into the world of podcasting.

“We went whole-hog,” she says. Her team converted the downstairs area of their office into a studio with a beautiful green room. “We found a wonderful partner. We set up interviews. We set up a big launch … we did everything in my dreamscape for this podcast.”

“And then corona came and now I’m in a closet on top of my son’s dirty clothes…” Brown says, admitting she was tempted to give up altogether after her first recording.

“We are coming at you from a pile of dirty clothes, in a closet, without a net,” she tells her listeners.

The hardest “first time” Brown identifies is, of course, the world’s COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re trying to be normal, but nothing is normal.” – Brene Brown.

“We don’t know what we’re doing. Many of us are trying to make our kids feel reassured when we don’t feel sure about anything. We’re trying to be normal, but nothing is normal,” Brown says.

“We don’t know how to do this. And by this I mean, we don’t know how to social distance and stay sane, we don’t know how to stay socially connected but far apart … We’re anxious, we’re uncertain, we are a lot of us afraid.

“Let me tell you this for sure, and I know this from my life, I know this, from again, from 20 years of research, and 400,000 pieces of data. If you don’t name what you’re feeling, if you don’t own the feelings, and feel them, they will eat you alive,” Brown told CBS’s Bill Whitaker in an episode of US program 60 Minutes aired today.

Brown also gives clear steps for dealing with this “first time” and others: normalise it, put it in perspective and “reality check” your expectations. (Listen here for her full teaching).