Episode 71 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with Sunni Brown. Sunni is a social entrepreneur who uses visual literacy, design thinking, and visual facilitation to solve complex problems. She’s the author of The Doodle Revolution and co-author of Gamestorming, which is a book beloved by many — including me.

In this conversation, we discuss Sunni’s current focus, which is about helping individuals craft a more fulfilling and engaged life. She’s doing this through combining design thinking with Zen Buddhism, and much of our conversation focused on Zen.

What is Zen? As Sunni put it,

Zen is not something you can summarize really at all. It’s such a deep and ancient lineage and an enormous body of practice. But what I find useful and what actually… it was sort of the groundwork for my pursuit of designing another method. And what it did for me was help me understand that the mind is a machine, and it has like projections onto reality all the time. And it has narratives and stories that it constantly creates and recreates and lives into. And they can be very confining, these perceptions of reality. And so, when you run into some ideas about reality that are actually created by you, based on your history and your experience, if they cause friction for you, then there’s a sort of place where you can redesign that intersection with reality to create a better reality for yourself.

As I mentioned on Twitter, several episodes of the show have centered on Buddhism. I didn’t expect to explore so much of this subject when I started the podcast, but it might be inevitable given the show’s remit to explore how people organize information to get things done.

Consciousness is the foundation of all our experiences, so the most important “tools” we must master are internal. If you care as much as I do about tools for thinking, you’ll eventually want to work with the ultimate tool: your mind. Even though I don’t label myself a Buddhist, I’m drawn to Buddhism’s time-tested (and relatively secular) practices for exploring and honing the mind.

This conversation with Sunni delved more deeply into this subject that others I’ve had in the show. I hope you get as much value it as I did.

The Informed Life episode 71: Sunni Brown on Deep Self Design