The Sharon Salzberg Metta Hour features Buddhist philosophy in a practical, common sense vernacular. Sharon’s natural wisdom, sense of humor and the ease with which she translates these teachings forge an intimate connection with the listener. From everyday experiences to pithy revelations, each podcast is a journey on the path of self-discovery.
Sharon sits down with playwright, Sarah Ruhl.
Sarah is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama. She has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and the Whiting Writers’ Award. Sarah is the author of several books, including her collection of essays “100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write,” which was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, and “Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship” published in 2012.
In this episode, Sharon and Sarah discuss the connection between creativity and practice at length. Sarah also reads from her book, discussing Metta (lovingkindness) Meditation, and Sharon’s childhood dream of writing a play!
For the 99th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks will colleague and friend, Sebene Selassie. In this episode, Sharon and Sebene discuss how Sebene came to the path of meditation, her work as a teacher, identity, community and much more. Sebene also leads a guided meditation to close the conversation.
Sebene is a dharma teacher, writer, coach and consultant. She began studying Buddhism over 25 years ago and has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. She is the former Executive Director of New York Insight Meditation Center and is passionate about making the dharma accessible and relevant for our times.
For episode 98 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon shares a conversation with Dr. Kristin Neff Ph.D.
Dr. Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Neff is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first studies on self-compassion fifteen years ago. She is the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. In this conversation, Sharon and Kristin speak about how Kristin came to specialize in the work of self-compassion, and the nuances between self-esteem and self-compassion. They discuss many of the scientific discoveries about self-compassion that research has uncovered, and how these findings debunk many of the cultural myths surrounding compassion today. The conversation closes with Kristin leading a 10-Minute guided meditation on balancing Compassion Burnout.
Ep. 97 – Raising Resilient Children with Dr. Christopher Willard and Dr. Mark Bertin
For the 97th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon shares a conversation about raising resilient children with Mark Bertin, MD & Christopher Willard, PsyD.
Buzz words such as “thriving,” “resilience,” and “mindfulness” may fill headlines and sell books, but what do they really mean, and how do we cultivate these traits in ourselves and our families? Sharon and her guests look beyond the buzzwords and towards the basic concepts of skillful parenting that have been known across cultures for millennia. Together they explore the best of what both science and wisdom traditions have to teach us about cultivating happy, healthy families.
For the 98th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Dr. Amishi Jha Ph.D.
Amishi is a Neuroscientist, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami, and the Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative. Amishi studies the neural bases of attention and the effects of mindfulness-based training programs on cognition, emotion and resilience.
In this episode, Amishi and Sharon speak about how Amishi came to the path of meditation, and how that has inspired her career as a researcher. They also speak about Amishi’s programs working with mindfulness training in education, corporate, elite sports, and the military.
For the 95th Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon converses with meditation teacher and author Gary Gach.
Gary has been meditating and writing for nearly 60 years, and published numerous magazines and anthologies. He is the author of Complete Idiot's Guide to Buddhism and his moment recent release, Pause ... Breathe ... Smile ~ Awakening Mindfulness When Meditation Is Not Enough. He's been hosting a weekly Zen mindfulness practice group for nearly a decade in San Francisco and is lay-ordained in the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism. In this conversation, Sharon and Gary speak at length about Gary’s latest book, and how he came to the practice of meditation, as well as the intersection of art, consciousness and social change.
For the 94th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon shares the stage with Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush!
Live from the 2018 “Open Your Heart in Paradise” retreat, Sharon speaks with Ram Dass and Mirabai about embracing the dying process. How can we be with one another as souls, to live and die consciously? The group of old friends explore these questions and share a reading from Mirabai and Ram Dass’s final book, Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying.
Sharon and Lynn Nottage discuss art as social action and the way that Lynn’s sees her own writing as a way to cultivate more empathy in the world. They also speak about the correlation between the spiritual path and creative process.
For episode 91 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with friend and author, Ellen Agler.
Ellen serves as the CEO of the END Fund, a private philanthropic initiative working to see an end of the suffering caused by five neglected tropical diseases affecting 1.5 billion people. The END Fund actively supports programs with dozens of partners in more than 25 countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Ellen’s first book, “Under the Big Tree: Extraordinary Stories from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases” has just been released from Johns Hopkins University Press with a foreword by Bill Gates. In this episode, Sharon and Ellen speak in depth about Ellen’s work in the public health sector, how to put compassion in action, and maintaining balance in extraordinary circumstances.
For Sharon’s 90th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, she speaks with longtime friend, Guy Armstrong.
Guy Armstrong has practiced Insight Meditation for over 40 years, including training as a Buddhist monk in Thailand with Ajahn Buddhadasa. He began teaching in 1984 and has led retreats worldwide. He is a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Society, where he works with three-month retreatants, as well as offering online courses of his teachings. In this conversation, Guy begins by sharing his personal story of what drew him to meditation practice over 40 years ago, and how that path evolved into his long-term study and teaching. Guy and Sharon speak at length about emptiness, the core topic of his 2017 book, “Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators,” by Wisdom Publications. Sharon and Guy also speak at length about the relationship between emptiness and lovingkindness. The conversation closes with Guy leading a brief guided meditation.
Ep. 88 – Frank Ostaseski celebrating Joan Halifax Book “Standing at the Edge”
In Episode 88 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon joins Frank Ostaseski at an event that was recorded live at the JCC Manhattan in September of 2018 in celebration of Joan Halifax’s new book release, “Standing at the Edge.”
Due to travel complications, Joan was unable to join this event until the end of the evening, creating the unique experience of Sharon and Frank discussing Joan’s teaching at length, as well as many of the themes of her new book, like the different paths of the warrior, the role of courage on the spiritual path (and daily life), empathy and compassion, integrity and self-respect and the dedicated, lifelong work of working with dying that both Joan and Frank have spearheaded.
In Episode 87 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with author, teacher and activist, Ruth King.
Ruth King is an international teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition, blending mindfulness and meditation principles with an exploration of racial conditioning and its impact. She is the author of several publications including her most recent release, Mindful of Race. In this episode, Ruth shares her personal story of what brought her to meditation practice, and how it has impacted her life and her work. Sharon and Ruth also speak in depth about racial conditioning and racial justice, the nuance of identity, and Ruth’s work rebuilding communities with new understanding and connection.
In Episode 86 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with teacher and author, Oren Jay Sofer.
Find show notes and links here: https://beherenownetwork.com/sharon-salzberg-metta-hour-ep-86-oren-jay-sofer/
Oren Jay Sofer is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher’s Council, a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma. His first book, “Say What You Mean” comes out in December 2018. In this conversation, Sharon and Oren discuss how Oren came to the path of meditation practice, and his time spent in the East. They also discuss the many nuances of effective communication both related to mindfulness practice, somatic healing, and the application of non-violent communication. The conversation closes with Oren leading a short guided meditation. For more information, visit orenjaysofer.com.
Find show notes and resources here: https://beherenownetwork.com/sharon-salzberg-metta-hour-ep-85-elisha-goldstein/
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles and creator of the 6-month coaching and mentorship program, A Course in Mindful Living. A psychologist, and international speaker and mindfulness educator, his books include Uncovering Happiness and The Now Effect. Learn more at elishagoldstein.com.
For Episode 84 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Lama Tsomo, an American lama, author, and co-founder of the Namchak Foundation.
Find show notes and resources here: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-84-lama-tsomo/
Lama Tsomo has followed a path of spiritual inquiry and study that ultimately led to her ordination as one of the few American lamas in Tibetan Buddhism. Lama learned Tibetan to study with her teacher Tulku Sangak Rinpoche, and now shares the teachings of the Namchak lineage in the US and abroad. Lama holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and is the author of the award winning “Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?”
In this conversation, Lama speaks with Sharon about her personal story of why she came to study Tibetan Buddhism, how her path has evolved through the course of her life, and how she has balanced family life, work life, and deep practice. The episode closes with Lama leading a guided meditation. For more information about Lama Tsomo, visit: namchak.org
For Episode 83 of the Metta Hour Podcast, enjoy this conversation from the archives between Sharon and beloved author and Celtic mystic, John O’Donohue.
Find show notes and resources here: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-83-john-odonohue/
This conversation “Dawning of the Spirit” was recorded in 1998 in Boston, MA by the Omega Institute. The conversation is an exploration of the crossover between the practical application and mysticism of Buddhism and Christianity. Sharon and John discuss the concept of faith at length, as well as the themes of identity, connection, empathy and more. John O’Donohue is the beloved author of “To Bless the Space Between Us” and widely recognized as one of the most charismatic and inspirational enduring voices on the subjects of spirituality and Celtic mysticism. The 2018 book release, “Walking in Wonder” is a welcome tribute to a much-loved author whose work still touches the lives of millions around the world, and includes a foreword by Krista Tippett. Learn more about the: legacy of John O’Donohue: johnodonohue.com
In Episode 82 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Rich Fernandez, Ph.D.
Find show notes and resources here: https://beherenownetwork.com/?p=14879&preview=true
Rich Fernandez is the CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and co-founded Wisdom Labs, an organization that brings the science of mindfulness, resilience and thriving into organizations. In this episode, Sharon and Rich speak about how Rich came to the practice of mindfulness, and how that evolved into his professional work bringing the practices of compassion, leadership, resilience and mindfulness into the larger systems of organizations. Learn more about Rich’s work at the SIYLI here: siyli.org and about the Wisdom labs here: wisdomlabs.com
Sharon speaks with longtime colleague Lama Tsultrim Allione for the 81st episode of the Metta Hour Podcast.
Find show notes and resources here: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-81-lama-tsultrim-allione/
Sharon and Lama open the conversation reminiscing about their similar paths going to India in their late teens, and the magic they discovered there. Lama speaks about her path in Vajrayana Buddhism and the sacred form of the feminine as the Dakini. Sharon and Lama speak in depth about Lama’s new book, “Wisdom Rising” and the five mandalas as paths of transformation. They also discuss one of Lama’s other primary teaching themes: chöd practice, aka feeding your demons. Lama and Sharon also share their experiences as women on the path, and some of the history of Buddhist teaching’s availability for women in the eastern patriarchal system— and how that has informed their pioneering work as female teachers in the west. The podcast ends with a short guided meditation by Lama on transforming anger with a Dakini seed syllable.
For the 80th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon sits down with colleague Rhonda V. Magee.
Rhonda V. Magee is Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and is an internationally-recognized thought and practice leader on integrating Mindfulness into Higher Education, Law and Social Justice. Sharon and Rhonda speak about Rhonda’s personal practice, her forthcoming book on racial justice, and her work bringing contemplative practice and mindfulness to lawyers. They discuss a holistic approach for compassionate and restorative justice in underserved communities and the different levels of social change that exist– and how to work in those levels for real growth.
Show notes and links: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-80-rhonda-v-magee/
For the 79th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon sits down with writer and teacher, Omid Safi. Omid is the Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center and is the author of several books, including his most recent release, “Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Traditions.”
In this episode, Sharon and Omid discuss Omid’s life story, and how he came to his work of sharing the history and culture of Islamic studies. They also talk all about love across different cultures, Omid’s most recent book, and last but not least, their shared love of HAMILTON!
Find show notes and links here: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-79-dr-omid-safi/
Ep. 78 - How to Be Single and Happy with Dr. Jenny Taitz
For Episode 78 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Dr. Jennifer Taitz. Dr. Taitz is a board-certified cognitive-behavioral clinical psychologist, a certified dialectical behavioral therapist, and the author of two books: End Emotional Eating and How to be Single and Happy.
Find show notes and links for this episode: https://beherenownetwork.com/metta-hour-ep-78-jenny-taitz/
For the 77th episode of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon chats with actress, activist and meditator, Daphne Zuniga.
Daphne is beloved by generations of moviegoers for her performances in such classic films as Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, as Princess Vespa, and The Sure Thing, in which she starred opposite John Cusack, and in television, she became familiar to millions of viewers for her role as Jo Beth Reynolds on Melrose Place. Daphne is a long-time meditator, who first came to the practice about 15 years ago. In this episode, she and Sharon speak about the intersection of meditation and creativity, the role that story plays in identity, as well as Daphne’s personal story related to the path of meditation and how the practice has impacted her life.
Ep. 76 – Finding the Space to Lead with Janice Marturano
In episode 76 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks in depth with colleague, Janice Marturano.
Janice Marturano is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, a non-profit organization dedicated to training and supporting leaders in the exploration of mindfulness and its impact on the cultivation of leadership excellence.
For episode 75 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon shares a talk from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
In this 1979 talk at Insight Meditation Society, His Holiness looks at the potential for spiritual practice to transform ourselves and the world we live in. He reflects on Buddhist teachings that could most dramatically change the lives of Western practitioners.
For episode twenty of the Real Love Series of the Metta Hour podcast, Sharon has a candid conversation with Alanis Morissette. In this episode, Sharon and Alanis talk about addiction, creativity, meditation and love.
For episode 72 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with one of her longtime teachers, Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
Recorded live in Louisville, KY at the 2018 Festival of Faiths, this conversation touches on the theme of the 23rd annual festival 'Sacred Insight-Feminine Wisdom' as well as the topic of basic goodness and compassion.
Ep. 70 – Real Love Series: Love Your Enemies w/ Lily Cushman
For episode nineteen of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon looks at how we can cultivate compassion for our enemies with Lovingkindness practice.
This episode features kirtan lead by Lily Cushman who is the co-founder and director of the Brooklyn Yoga School, a donation-based center founded in 2010, and the Executive Assistant to Sharon Salzberg.
This week, Sharon explores the powerful tools of meditation at the launch of the Eight Annual Real Happiness Meditation Challenge.
Whether you are brand new to meditation, or a longtime practitioner, Sharon offers down-to-earth expertise based on 40+ years of practical experience studying and teaching.
For episode seventeen of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon shares a conversation with Sensei Robert Chodo Campbell and Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison from the New York Zen Center For Contemplative Care.
Senseis Chodo and Koshin speak with Sharon about the way we relate to death and how Buddhist practice can prepare us for leaving this incarnation.
For episode nine of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon speaks with meditation teacher and author, Jack Kornfield.
Sharon and Jack Kornfield originally met in the 1970s in Colorado and went on to found the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA along with Joseph Goldstein. In this episode, Sharon and Jack talk about their first meeting over 40 years ago, and how the landscape for meditation in the West has dramatically changed since that time. They also discuss Jack's new book "No Time Like the Present" and it's theme of freedom as compared to the theme of love in Sharon's new book "Real Love". Tune into a fascinating ninth episode for the Real Love Podcast Series.
For episode eight of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon talks with Congressman Tim Ryan about love in the political landscape. Tim currently serves in the U.S. Congress representing Ohio's 13th District. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002. Aside from his leadership in the political arena, Tim is a tremendous advocate for mindfulness, and author of the book "A Mindful Nation". Sharon and Tim discuss the importance and practice of real love in such critical and polarizing times in american and global politics, as well as value of quiet time and interdependence in community.
For episode seven of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon talks with meditation teach and author, Tara Brach.
Tara is the author of many books, including the "Radical Acceptance" and "True Refuge," and is the founder the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC. Sharon and Tara dive into the world of self-love, discussing the subtle differences between self-worth and self-love, and how the two inform each other. They also discuss how to return to compassion and love when our buttons get pushed, in particular in the with the current political climate in the world. Tara also offers her approach to applying mindfulness and compassion practices of R-A-I-N, and how she continues to develop these tools for herself and her students.
For the sixth episode of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon sits down with renowned psychiatrist and author, Dr. Mark Epstein.
Mark Epstein has paved the way for the cross-section of Western psychotherapy with Buddhist philosophy in the West, writing a number of books including his seminal work, "Going to Pieces without Falling Apart." Listen in on a fascinating conversation between two longtime friends and colleagues discussing Real Love in relationships and what that has to do with attachment theory, desire, Freud and early childhood development!
For her fifth episode of the Real Love Podcast Series, Sharon speaks with environmental activist Tim DeChristopher. In December of 2008, Tim disrupted a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction by registering as “Bidder 70” and outbidding oil companies for land parcels in National Parks in Utah.
Sharon is joined by Bell Hooks for a heartfelt conversation about the transformative power of love.
Bell Hooks is a cultural critic, feminist theorist, and writer. Celebrated as one of our nation’s leading public intellectual by The Atlantic Monthly, as well as one of Utne Reader’s 100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life, she is a charismatic speaker who divides her time among teaching, writing, and lecturing around the world. Previously a professor in the English departments at Yale University and Oberlin College, hooks is now a Distinguished Professor of English at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
The Happiness Track - Emma Seppälä is the Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research in addition to her role as Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She has conducted groundbreaking research on mind-body practices for combat veterans and in the fields of meditation and compassion. Sharon introduces Emma and her work, starting with Emma's book "The Happiness Track."
Ep. 52 - Real Love Series: Holistic Life Foundation
Sharon is joined by Holistic Life Foundation co-founders Andres Gonzalez and brothers Ali and Atman Smith for a conversation around the role of love in community building.
The Real Love Podcast Series is a special series on the Metta Hour featuring a variety of conversations with some of the world's finest thinkers and teachers exploring Sharon's forthcoming book "Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection". Real Love a field guide for anyone seeking awakened living in the 21st century - regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity or status. The book explores love is three different arena in life: love of oneself, love of one another, and love for all of life. Real Love is now available for pre-order and hits stores on June 6th, 2017.
Sharon sits down with Ram Dass and Raghu Markus for a conversation about Ram Dass's relationship with his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and how that relationship transformed his ability to love himself and others in his life. Recorded live in December 2016 at the Open Your Heart in Paradise Retreat in Maui, HI.
The Real Love Podcast Series is a special series on the Metta Hour featuring a variety of conversations with some of the world's finest thinkers and teachers exploring Sharon's forthcoming book "Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection". Real Love a field guide for anyone seeking awakened living in the 21st century - regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity or status. The book explores love is three different arena in life: love of oneself, love of an other, and love for all of life. Real Love is now available for pre-order and hits stores on June 6th, 2017.
Live from Deepak HomeBase, Sharon shares wisdom on learning to love your enemies.
In this special talk, Sharon explores inner and outer enemies, looks at the fear, anger and anguish generated by being stuck in a mode of "us" and "them", and focuses on the liberation we are capable of.
Live from the Garrison Institute, Sharon contemplates the role of intentionality in our actions.
Joined by the co-host of the evening, Ethan Nichtern, Sharon explores the different components of our actions and how intentionality affects each of them.
On this special episode of Metta Hour, Sharon visits humorist Randy Cohen's podcast, Person Place Thing, to talk about her most inspirational "Thing," the Statue of Liberty.
Person Place Thing is an interview show based on this idea: people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Sharon shares how the values reflected in Lady Liberty inspire how she lives her life
Sharon shares insight and words of encouragement on our meditative practice. We get a better understanding of the meaning of the word meditation and context for how it works in our lives. We learn to appreciate meditation as cultivation and the importance of getting used to it. Sharon is joined by Roshi Joan Halifax to take questions from the audience on patience, teaching others, and appreciating our contributions no matter how small they may be.
This week, Sharon digs the into some of the reoccurring challenges we all encounter along the path. Our path to liberation is not a linear one of progression, in which we clear hurdles that never return. Instead, it is a circular journey that keeps coming around and influences all aspects of our life The wisdom our practice cultivates affords us the opportunity to approach these challenges in a better way each time they present themselves along the path.
Sharon shares four reflections on the Dharma that will sustain us in our practice. Who in the Western world can imagine sitting in silent meditation for years at a time? What can we do, especially as novices, to remind ourselves the purpose and importance of our practice? Sharon asked the same questions early in her practice as well. What she learned is that there are reflections for sustained practice which shift our perspective and move us forward on the path.
This special episode of Metta Hour is dedicated to exploring the life of the historical Buddha. Sharon discusses the historical Buddha as a human, legendary figure, and mystic, in addition to his role as teacher, historical figure, and founder of a tradition. She walks us through the Buddha's experiences under the Bodhi tree and the teachings he left with. On this episode of, Metta Hour, Sharon gives insight into these lessons to help us better understand the Way of the Buddha.
This week on, Metta Hour, Sharon has a conversation with Rev Angel Kyodo Williams about political activism and spiritual practice. What is the interplay between activism and personal practice? Sharon and Rev Angel Kyodo Williams discuss the qualities of the two and what they bring to one another. On this week's episode, we learn how to make radical change happen and love everyone in the process.
Ep. 41 - Transformational Activism: Ethan Nichtern & Eric Schneiderman
Sharon sits down with Ethan Nichtern and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to talk about transformational activism. The three discuss what exactly transformational activism is and how Ethan and Eric have been using the approach to promote positive change in politics.Ethan Nichtern founded The Interdependence Project in 2005 which offers a unique, multi-lineage education in Secular Buddhist practice and psychology. The project also features Transformational Activism initiatives, designed to support the interdependence of our unique personal journeys with our shared path as a society. Eric Schneiderman has been a long time partner to The Interdependence Project, offering his political experience and unique insight to the group. Listen to how Ethan and Eric developed the concept of transformational activism and how we can affect change in our community on this enlightening episode of the Sharon Salzberg Metta Hour!"Understanding the core sense of self . . . is really the key to any long-term transformational change." - Eric SchneidermanShow Notes00:50 - Ethan shares the history of his and Eric's relationship. While approaching their spiritual lives differently, they came to agree that the practice of awakening is happening on three levels simultaneously. These levels are the personal level, our interpersonal lives, and the shared conscious level of experience.05:55 - Eric gives his perspective on meeting Ethan for the first time. At this time Eric was faced with an existential political dilemma. He was concerned with the lack of transformational work, essential to all of the great progressive social movements, being done by his side of the political aisle. While politicians on the opposite side of the aisle successfully appealed to the lesser instincts of voters.12:10 - We are given a few examples of transformational work in political history. Jannette Rankin's fight for women's suffrage saw a drastic change in public perception over the decades of transformational social change.16:15 - It occurred to Eric that the core of the message of the opposing political agenda was about people's sense of themselves. The advertisements used by the conservative opposition appealed to the selfish and fearful nature of voters.19:35 - The idea of transformational activism is that every day each of us engages in either feeling separate, selfish, and scared, or towards being more connected, compassionate, and courageous on all three levels of practice.26:00 - We are offered an example of Gandhi's approach to non-violence. Similarly, maintaining the distinction between an opponent and an enemy is an important part of Eric's political approach.38:30 - What is it that pushes us from being on the sidelines to being in the center of change?42:25 - Buddhism lends itself more to the secular aspects of the western world than the tradition of faith-based voters. Ethan speaks to the challenge of bringing Buddhists to faith-based political rallies.47:20 - The floor is opened up to the audience for Q&A. Is suffering the key to opening up the western world to compassion and seeing a broader world? How do we see the good in everyone when some situations clearly involve individuals acting in in bad ways?
Sharon sits down with Ali Smith, Andy Gonzalez and Atman Smith of the Holistic Life Foundation at the JCC Manhattan to talk about their work bringing mindfulness and yoga to inner city youth in their hometown of Baltimore, MD. The Holistic Life Foundation has been serving Baltimore’s underserved communities since 2001 with high quality programming focusing on yoga, holistic health, environmental advocacy and education, sustainability, oneness, and interconnectedness. In this episode of The Metta Hour, Sharon talks with the HLF about how they began this inspiring work, and it’s expansion in their community after 15 years. Show Notes: 00:55 – Sharon jokes about feeling like her life is kind of like “mercury in retrograde” at the moment. She welcomes her audience and introduces her guests Ali Smith, Andy Gonzalez and Atman Smith, founders of the Holistic Life Foundation (HLF). 3:50 – Ali tells about their struggles growing up in the streets of Baltimore. The Smith brothers were raised vegan with yogas and mindfulness. This created a unique dichotomy that the two worked to keep secret from those who would shun them for it. Their practice faded into their teenage years, but was reignited in college where they meet co-founder Andres Gonzalez. After college the three spent their time reading on spiritual practice, meditating, and working on personal growth. 14:53 – Atman shares the story of HLF and their first group of “problem children”. How introducing those kids to the same practices they learned had a dramatic effect. The project grew beyond expectation. Growing from 25 to over 125 kids in one school the program has continued to expand in scope reaching over 5000 students in 15 schools. 19:30 – Beyond reaching out to inner city youth, HLF works with all underserved communities in Baltimore. HLF goes to drug rehab, mental health facilities, and elderly homes to bring them mindfulness practices to help deal with their situation. 21:00 – In schools HLF developed an alternative suspension program called the “Mindful Moment”. A room where kids are sent to calm down and reflect on their actions. They practice breath-work, stretch, and are given time to meditate and reflect. They come out of the room calm and ready to work. 28:00 – Sharon asks the brothers about the trauma that they are helping others overcome. The topic of undiagnosed PTSD in their community is discussed. How they learned to address the trauma affecting their students. Their own experiences on the streets and witnessing the hardship of others. 37:30 – How does love figure into changing things in such harsh circumstances? Atman and Ali return home in the heart of the Baltimore riots and lead their neighbors in meditation and rally them through the clean up effort. Reminding everyone that spreading the love and compassion can make the difference. 49:30 – Sharon turns the floor over to her audience who ask about HLF’s relationship with local churches, spreading HLF throughout the country, maintaining a personal practice, and more 1:17:00 – Atman leads a two minute guided meditation. This breathing meditation is a favorite of his kids because it gives them enough space to to relax, but enough guidance to keep their minds from wandering.
Ep. 39 – Buddha with a Smartphone with Ethan Nichtern
In this episode, Sharon sits down with author and Buddhist teacher, Ethan Nichtern. Together they discuss with their live audience, life with a smartphone and how technology affects our spiritual development. Ethan highlights the use of technology as an escape mechanism and reminds us to be aware of when and why that is happening. Explaining our ability to turn the potential downfalls of technology into a weapon for positive change. How do we negotiate the extra layer of complexity that technology adds to our lives? Do the comforts it provides pull us too far out of the moment? ” To not have some way of working with one’s own mind, with seven billion people and technology and the ways messages can spread, feels more and more disrespectful. . . If we are going to have a device and we are going to connect to people, we need to know how to use that device.” Show Notes: :50 – Sharon starts the hour by briefly discussing the concept of balance in our body and our practice and how it affects all things and dives right into a guided meditation. 7:40 – The crowd is asked to share about their relationship to technology. A few share about their smartphone addictions, the need to look at Facebook constantly, and the irritation that arises from constant notifications, and alerts we receive. Sharon gives some insight and shares a confession of her own on her relationship with her smartphone and technology. 16:35 – Guest, Ethan Nichtern, speaks of both the ancientness of Buddhism and it’s modernity. The abuse of technology is discussed in the context of the Buddhist precepts. “Be curious about how you escape” 22:15 – How can we reverse the negative potential of technology into a tool for good? “A weapon in the hands of a master can be a force for good. It can become a way to slice through confusion.” 31:45 – Ethan discusses the idea of co-emergence. How the mind determines whether something comes as a positive or negative based on our perspective. 34:18 – What are the signals within ourselves that we miss when we use technology against our best interest. 42:00 – In the age of mindfulness and meditation in vogue, Ethan explains that part of the practice is not transcending discomfort but sitting with it. He reminds us that these discomforts are part of our growth and development. 53:50 – Thoughts on how the connection with others can bring us into the present moment and away from our distractions. For more from, Ethan, check out his website
We are reminded that when we are seeking balance, to practice meditation is to make a home of the deeper places that we have touched in our encounters with joy and sorrow. Loving Kindness is fueled by the truth, and therefore has the power to change our lives for the better. To train in Metta is to experiment in your relationship and reaction to all that you experience, with the understanding that everyone you see is as hopeful and deserving of the kindness and love that are our birthright. Concentration is the act of letting go of everything that is not, and is enhanced through the quality and consistency of the phrases used. A healthy balance of calm focus and creative energy help to bring this practice to life
Pulling from her insight and wealth of experience in the art of mindfulness, Sharon responds to some of the questions and concerns that often arise when one delves into the practice of Loving Kindness meditation. This particular practice is unique in its more active approach to offering kindness to ourselves and others, and can be confusing during initial integration. Topics discussed include appropriate phrases, understanding the right effort involved relative to other forms of practice, aversion to sympathetic joy, incorporating family into Loving Kindness, and acknowledging and working with the roots of difficulty within practice.
What does it mean to be born into this human form, with an ever-changing body and mind subjected to forces seemingly out of our control? How can we possibly feel at home in our own lives, amidst the inevitable torrent of change? Sharon discusses this context within which we practice, highlighting the Buddha’s teachings as the compass used in seeking direction. We are all capable of developing the consciousness necessary to ask these questions, and to know the answers for ourselves through the power of our own awareness. To have a personal and intimate sense of the Truth is as much our birthright as our potential.
A welcome explanation of what it truly means to seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Likening refuge to the Buddhist concept of ‘Bright Faith’, Sharon describes the power of possibility in keeping our spirits alive and moving. When our sense of limitation shifts from an absolute truth to a simple mental construct, we begin to see the light beneath the door. In revolutionizing our relationship to ourselves we affirm our own ability to bring faith, hope, and understanding to any situation.
Sharon offers an overview of the context in which we practice, providing insight and instruction for some of the basic tenements of meditation. This skills training can bring steadfast and sustainable concentration to the mind, promoting balance and ease as we move through the world. The goal is not to escape certain thoughts or to generate positive feelings, but rather to cultivate the conditions necessary for transformation within your own life. Through repeated efforts we begin to uncover a deep and abiding sense of our own true nature.
Piti is the Pali word for rapture, defined as an enthusiasm or sense of zeal that is often characterized by feelings of happiness, delight, and satisfaction. When developed, this quality pervades both the body and the mind with the energy of exhilaration. Sharon outlines the various levels of rapture and offers both methods and inspiration for its cultivation.
Sharon discusses some of the more common obstacles to sympathetic joy and offers methods that promote both the practice and sustainability of this quality. Learning to let go of our judgments and allowing others to live as they choose is often a crucial factor in shifting our perspective. Recognizing the line of separation created through the restless state of comparison will also serve to loosen the boundaries that we build. Through generosity we begin to see the happiness of others as a continuum of our own. Sympathetic joy is boundless in nature, and we alone are responsible for drawing the lines of its potential.
Sharon explains the specific form of joy that comes from taking genuine delight in the happiness of others. Engaging in this practice challenges our deepest assumptions of who we are and what it means to be truly content. Releasing ourselves from the perceived sense of battle or competition with others can bring profound liberation to the mind and heart. In allowing and encouraging the happiness of others we naturally and dramatically increase the likelihood of experiencing authentic joy in our own lives.
Sharon describes the spacious realm of equanimity and its role in cultivating and preserving an abiding sense of faith. When we can maintain a genuine presence with whatever comes our way, we open ourselves to the boundless compassion that stems from the deep knowing that we are a part of the larger fabric of the universe in which we exist.
Identifying and acknowledging our habitual thought patterns is the first step in developing a greater sense of awareness regarding our moment-to-moment existence. The meditative process is rooted in this recognition and subsequent experimentation with the methods that best align with where we are right now. We are asked to step out of the race for acquisition in order to begin the journey of cultivation. Our capacity to love, to connect, to share, and to see can be obscured but is never destroyed. In practice we are invited to return, abide, and dwell in the flourishing of our potential.
“It is the truth that liberates, not your efforts to be free” - J. Krishnamurti
Sharon helps us to appreciate the sense of clarity that naturally arises when our view is no longer distorted by our fears, biases, and judgments of the world around us. This truth is born of and sustained through the versatile wisdom that comes from the cultivation and subsequent embodiment of a genuine balance of the mind and heart. Meditation serves as a method of manifestation for the conditions necessary to promote and support this awakened state. Our capacity to open is innate and requires only that we uncover and nurture these qualities through our commitment to practice
How can we be passionate while remaining at ease, moving forward in our investigation without losing our center? Sharon describes meditation as a means for learning how to sit in the heart of the paradoxes that we encounter on our path. We have to remain whole-hearted, to be daring in our efforts to explore that longing we feel toward something deeper. Right-effort is crucial in maintaining the balance and avoiding the strain and self-judgment that can often accompany such endeavors. Our aspiration is both the challenge and the inspiration that we need to shift our energy and identity to something much greater than the roles we play.
Ep. 25 - Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity
Sharon discusses some of the qualities that often accompany Metta, and explains the synergistic and supportive relationship they promote. When brought together these forces generate a sense of balance that is both genuine and sustainable. Equanimity is essential in understanding the potential for these qualities to become boundless in nature. We begin to open to suffering through compassion, and discover joy in the understanding of our shared experience.
Raghu Markus returns to the Metta Hour to discuss a recent blog from Sharon regarding the role of proximity in understanding the ubiquitous nature of our lives. There is a capacity within us to see ourselves in one another as we begin to explore the intrinsic vulnerability under which we operate. The power of compassion is highlighted as a means for avoiding demonization, and enacting an energetic and compassionate response to the suffering that we encounter. Our ideas about one another are just that, ideas, and the more we are willing to investigate our pretenses through genuine interaction the more we find they are often misleading. The secret to success is found in paying attention.
Experiences come and go with a dreamlike flow that often leaves us wondering how we ever got so lost in the moment. The miracle of mindfulness comes through its ability to bring greater perspective to the full spectrum of emotions that will undoubtedly arise throughout our lives. Awareness has the power to provide refuge in every moment and we need only to remember this ever-present potential. Sharon reminds us that mindfulness can go anywhere and isn’t dependent upon circumstance
Delusion clouds our judgment and prevents us from seeing things as they truly are. It often carries with it a sense of apprehension or uncertainty, which strips us of the energy required to look deeply at our lives. One of the greatest dangers is its ability to block empathy, which can be viewed as the root of caring. If we can’t open to our own suffering, then we become incapable of opening to the suffering of others. Sharon discusses the ways that we can both recognize and dismantle delusion in an effort to gain clarity and confidence in where we chose to put our faith.
What is it that happens within certain individuals that allows an emergence from a place of suffering into a space of greater faith and trust in the world in which they navigate? This alchemical process seems to be born of an understanding and appreciation of the larger universe in which we exist. Perhaps this expansion of our very being provides a larger space in which to hold the suffering. We can’t always prevent painful experiences from occurring, but we can learn to be present with them, to merge with our suffering in a way that encourages balance and equanimity.
‘The mind is naturally radiant and pure. The mind is shining. It is because of visiting forces that we suffer’ - The Buddha
Sharon identifies and thoroughly deconstructs some of the more common obstacles encountered in practice, emphasizing the non-local aspect of these intruding forces. The implications of this discovery, and continued remembrance through practice, help us to better understand the importance of knowing who we truly are. When we are at one with our true nature we no longer feel the pull toward identification with these frequent visitors. We can learn to skillfully acknowledge their presence and even invite them in, knowing and trusting that they are not to become permanent residents
Sharon outlines a few of the more powerful conditioned forces that can often motivate and form the basis for our intentions. Thankfully, she also provides some methodology for the purification of these mental states, and offers practical advice for integrating these fresh perspectives into our everyday lives. Not surprisingly, the power of practice is highlighted as a means for overcoming our more self-centered relationships to the world around us.
An exploration of the potential role of balance in bringing liberation from the tyranny of the form of practice, by looking beyond the various methods employed into the essence of our purpose in doing the work. All of our ‘skillful means’ are, in truth, toward some end, the discovery of which is the very balance we seek. The path itself is an unfolding of balance, where we create the conditions that allow us to be with absolutely anything.
Doubt is essentially a form of indecision, a crossroads at which we are hesitant to move in any specific direction. It can be truly seductive in its ability to habituate the mind, rendering us paralyzed to act in its presence. Sharon provides a revealing and inspiring dissection of this stagnant state, and explains the different ways that we can interpret and respond to the feelings that often accompany it. In putting our humility and patience into practice, we may find it preferable to discover the consequences for ourselves, rather than staying frozen in the fear of commitment.
There are so many events that occur completely unbeknownst to us throughout our day-to-day lives. Our understanding changes when we discover that the possibility exists to shift our perspective in a way that illuminates or clarifies our awareness. How and where we place our attention determines the nature of our own equanimity, and in retaining this sense of possibility, we have the power to choose an attitude of openness toward the overwhelming structure of our lives.
“I teach one thing and one thing only, that is suffering and the end of suffering’- Buddha. Sharon analyzes a few of the great sage’s profound statements in an effort to illuminate the practical truth therein. Whether interpreted through text, or experienced in our actual lives, an accurate translation naturally leads to an appropriate response.
What does real happiness actually feel like, and how can we embody the essence with clarity and compassion? Sharon provides a detailed exploration of this perceived problem and offers insight into the creation of a deeper and more sustainable sense of happiness.
We often experience ourselves as a fragmented and scattered assimilation of thoughts and emotions. How can we gather this fractured energy and return to our natural state of mindful awareness? In this lecture Sharon provides a thorough breakdown of the parallels and often-subtle distinctions between concentration and mindfulness. We learn to practice mindfulness as a platform for insight into the heart of experience.
Sharon responds to a variety of questions at the 2010 Open Your Heart in Paradise retreat. Topics discussed include the necessity and desire for a spiritual teacher, merging loving kindness with forgiveness, and the struggles that can accompany even long-term meditation practice
Sharon Salzberg and Jared Levy join Raghu Markus for a discussion about the current spiritual landscape, and some of the more encouraging contrasts from their earlier days in practice. The group also comments on the power of purpose in creating our intentions, and the different approaches we can take in aligning our aspirations with our actions. The episode concludes with a fantastic meditation led by Sharon.
Sharon details her origin story in relation to mindfulness practice and describes the different approaches we can take in integrating meditation into our lives. The core teaching begins with the recognition that we have the potential to change our relationships with ourselves, and the world around us. Questions from the audience revolve around the confusion and difficulty that often arise in experimenting with mindfulness techniques.
‘Develop a mind so filled with love that it resembles space’. Sharon uses this quote, from the Buddha, to emphasize the value in creating a vast and loving space from which we can operate. This cultivation can come in the form of expanded awareness, or from the clearing and cleansing of the present environment. When we unclutter the heart, we are reminded to stay true to our deepest intentions
What is it that we are really looking for from our lives, and do we have the ability to approach these aspirations with genuine confidence? In meditation, we get to redefine happiness, and look critically at our perceived fears and short comings. We use our sharpened awareness to cut through the layers of constriction that often surround our perception, and uncover a profoundly different sense of who we truly are. We have the power in changing our relationship to ourselves and our environment
Through Loving Kindness we sense our deep connection to the world around us. From that awareness arises compassion, which recognizes suffering, on all levels, and responds accordingly. Loving kindness doesn't seek to label or define the qualities or emotions that it addresses. It simply comes as an offering, in the form of forgiveness.
Sharon is joined by her longtime friend, and fellow MindPod patron, Raghu Markus, for a thoughtful and thorough discussion of the principles involved in the Buddhist teaching of the Eightfold Path, as well as how we can apply its core sentiments to our modern landscape. The Path begins with the basic recognition of our seamless connection to the world around us, and an evolving determination to avoid actions that we know will result in suffering. We discover our affinity toward intuitive action, and learn to incorporate that connection in all aspects of our lives. Episode Outline: - Right Understanding - The cause/effect relationship - Right Thought (Right Intention) - Right Speech - What are we saying, and how are we saying it? - Right Livelihood - Kindness is key - Right Action - Actively promoting harmony - Right Concentration - Stabilizing our intentions - Right Effort - Doing the necessary work (without strain or judgment) - Right Mindfulness - Unbiased perception
In this talk, from the 2010 Open Your Heart in Paradise retreat, Sharon discusses the four virtues, known within the Buddhist tradition as the Brahma Viharas, as well as the meditation practices designed to cultivate them. These qualities, of loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity, are said to form our, ‘best home’, and serve as a simple but powerful guideline with which we can practice. The qualities are outlined in detail, with a particular emphasis on loving-kindness. Sharon leads a guided meditation to close the talk.
Within Buddhism, Faith is not held as a commodity, but is actually experienced as a journey that we embark upon. It becomes necessary to explore and investigate the insight surrounding this extraordinary sense of presence and connectedness. There is a natural evolution that occurs which involves a personal validation of, and eventual merging with, the process itself. We learn to abide in and flow with Faith, no longer seeing it as separate from ourselves. The practice of loving kindness is a powerful method for cultivating this environment of discovery. When we train our attention to be inclusive toward all of life’s happenings, we quickly see the interconnected nature of our lives, and our limited perspective shifts to encompass the greater whole.
Taken from the 2010 Open Your Heart in Paradise retreat, Sharon relates the act of meditation to an alchemical process in which we convert the conceptual into the felt presence of direct experience. The array of what we might encounter in meditation is broad, but we welcome it all. Meditation is a skills training in learning to gather energy. Our attention is brought into focus and we begin to connect the fragments of our lives. When we tap into our ‘inner abundance’, our experience changes and we naturally settle into a more compassionate state of awareness.
In this talk, Sharon touches on the concept of the Buddha as a human being, who had real questions, much like our own. What he discovered was found through the power of his own awareness, and through his teachings we too can uncover our own innate compassion. Retreat provides a rare opportunity to break from the fragmented nature of day-to-day, and allows us to settle back into the truths of our own lives. Through the process of concentration we begin to piece together the energy required for self-actualizing our own capacity toward freedom.