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“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
We all yearn for connection, yet often feel trapped by our sense of isolation, anger, or envy. But there is a key that can free us from this prison of despair.
The problem? Love is just hard to talk about. Harder to understand. And perhaps even harder to practice.
How we get it? How we give it? How do we attract it? How do we cultivate it?
To answer these questions, first we have to define it.
What is love, exactly?
Ask Sharon Salzberg and she’ll tell you that it’s not an emotion we should be trying to extract from another. In fact, don’t even think about love as a feeling at all. Instead, consider it as an ability. An aptness or facility that resides within all of us that can be cultivated to create real, profound connections with others, with all, and most importantly ourselves. And it is that connection that will nourish the very sustenance of life itself and ultimately set you free.
Today I sit down with Sharon to redefine our limited interpretation of love. To dispel the misunderstandings that confine and circumscribe it. To plumb the eternal truths within it — love based on direct interactions rather than preconceptions. And to explore how we can better cultivate and expand our experience of real love in our daily lives.
For the uninitiated, Sharon Salzberg is a towering figure in the field of meditation. A world-renowned teacher and multiple New York Times’ bestselling author, she has played a central, crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture dating back to 1974 when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA and the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness*, her seminal work, Lovingkindness* and her newest release, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection* (the focus of today’s conversation). Sharon is also a regular columnist for On Being, a contributor to Huffington Post, and the host of her own podcast, The Metta Hour.
One of the many striking things about Sharon is that she’s just cool. Like, really f*$king cool. Despite her undisputed luminary status in the meditation space, conspicuously absent is any hint of pretense or artifice. Down-to-earth and fun to be with, her approach to Buddhist teachings is modern, secular, and accessible, rendering the wisdom and it’s practical applications relatable to all.
This conversation is a deep dive into Sharon’s extraordinary life. It’s about the reoccurring abandonment and incomprehensible trauma she endured as a child — and how she ultimately found salvation, and her life path, in meditation.
It’s a discussion about how we think about and practice love – love for others, love for all, and love for one’s self.
It’s about unconscious pain and the inherent value of suffering when recognized and properly channelled.
It’s about the three most essential life skills – compassion, mindfulness & concentration – and how meditation can help us master them by training our attention.
And it’s a conversation about the imperative of navigating these treacherous, divided times with fierce compassion and unabated loving kindness.
It was an absolute blast spending a couple hours with Sharon, and I think you’ll really love (pun intended) the product of our exchange.
Peace + Plants,
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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Get Sharon’s latest book: Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection*
Catch Sharon on her REAL LOVE BOOK TOUR near you!
Background, Context & Reference
- Connect With Sharon: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
- Podcast: The Metta Hour Podcast with Sharon Salzberg
- Non-profit organization: Insight Meditation Society
- Happify: Where Does Compassion really Come From? [Animation Video]
- CBS News: Meditation Mindfulness & Spirituality
- On Being: Articles by Sharon Salzberg
- Huffington Post: Articles by Sharon Salzberg
- Huffington Post: Sharon Salzberg Explains Real Happiness
- Huffington Post: A Way Out of Suffering: An Interview With Sharon Salzberg by Omega Institute
- The Washington Post: Recapturing the awesome meaning and power of ‘love’ by Emma Seppälä
- The New York Times: A Joyful Effort
- The New York Times: No Texts, Please, We’re Meditating by Caren Osten Gerszberg
- Fast Company: How A Media Star Found Mindfulness After A Meltdown In Front Of 5 Million Viewers by Camille Sweeney and josh Gosfield
- GoogleTalks: Sharon Salzberg: Real Love – The Art of Mindful Connection
- Lifehacker: How To Find Real Love With Sharon Salzberg
Notable Books by Sharon Salzberg
- Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace*
- The Kindness Handbook: A Practical Companion*
- Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier*
- Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation*
- The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love and Compassion*
- Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness*
- Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience*
- Insight Meditation: A Step-by-Step Course on How to Meditate*
- A Heart as Wide as the World*
Notable People Discussed
- Jason Garner: former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation, now author, and student of Masters of body, mind and spirit
- Dan Harris: journalist, ABC News correspondent, Nightline anchor, author of 10% Happier*
- Thich Nhat Hanh: 90 year old Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist
- Ram Dass: renowned spiritual teacher and author of the seminal best-seller Be Here Now*
- Krishna Das: vocalist known for his performances of Hindu devotional music known as Kirtan
- Bhagavan Das: singer, teacher, Western yogi who has lived in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka
- Dipa Ma: was an Indian meditation teacher of Theravada Buddhism and influenced the American branch of the Vipassana movement
- Joseph Goldstein: author and one of the first American vipassana teachers, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society
- Jack Kornfield: Author, Buddhist practitioner and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #179: From A Life Of Matter To A Life That Matters: Jason Garner’s Journey From Music Industry CEO To Spiritual Warrior
- RRP #97: Dan Harris: How A Panic Attack On National TV Led To Meditation As The Path To Happiness
- RRP #43: Charlie Knoles: Mastering The Mind With The Master Of Meditation
- RRP #267: Guru Singh: A Master Spiritual Teacher On The Power Of Cultivating Awareness To Awaken Your Highest Self
- RRP #151: The Zen Of WuDe – Meditations On Buddhist Philosophy, Gratitude & The Art Of Being
- RRP #87: WuDe: Zen & The Art & Importance Of Living Tea
Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering, show notes and interstitial music; Shawn Patterson for graphics. Theme music by Ana Leimma.
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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