Sharon Salzberg on The Art of Mindful Connection and Real Happiness

Sharon Salzberg on The Art of Mindful Connection and Real Happiness

This is our 50th episode!

Joining me this week is Sharon Salzberg.

Sharon is among the most prominent teachers of meditation in the world. She’s the author of 11 books, including the New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness. Her writing has been featured on Medium, the Huffington Post and she was a contributing editor of Oprah’s O Magazine for several years.

Sharon is also the host of her own podcast The Metta Hour, which brings Buddhist wisdom to everyday life in a practical, common sense vernacular. She has emerged as a featured speaker and teacher on the topics of mindfulness and meditation, which she has been teaching since 1974.

Sharon’s story starts with a traumatic childhood, which saw her having lived with five different families, by the age of 16. She first encountered Buddhism in 1969 which sparked an immediate interest for her. She decided to pursue this curiosity and went to study abroad in India in 1970, where she discovered meditation. She took her first intensive meditation course in 1971, and since then she has been teaching Vipassana meditation or Insight Meditation. She established the Insight Meditation Society with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, which now ranks as one of the most prominent and active meditation centers in the Western world.

In our conversation:

  • We start by demystifying the mystical – we unpack what Nirvana is, what Karma means, and what the practice of meditation really looks like.
  • We unpack the lessons that Sharon has learned throughout her life. Lessons like:
    • Visiting forces, and how our awareness is bigger than any visitor.
    • What the end of suffering looks like.
    • How to hold darkness within the light.
    • How one of the great ironies of meditation is that what appears to be a practice of solitude is actually about a deeper connection with others.
  • We explore the relationship between Zen Buddhism and creativity.
  • We ask ourselves what it means to have the guru inside you, as opposed to something that you seek on the outside.

Please enjoy my conversation with Sharon Salzberg.

Full Episode

Guest Links

Show Notes

  • Conquering the stage. Sharon shares how she first felt about public speaking and how she overcame her fears. (00:03:31-00:06:24)
  • What is Karma? (00:06:35-00:08:58)
  • What does Nirvana mean? (00:08:59-00:11:48)
  • What is mindful breathing? (00:11:49-00:13:30)
  • Finding divine treasure in silence. We talk about mindfulness and the practice of meditation. (00:13:31-00:17:38)
  • Sharon’s approach when teaching meditation. (00:17:39-00:19:26)
  • We discuss Sharon’s early experience and interest in meditation, which ultimately led her to study in India. (00:19:27-00:22:09)
  • Sharon shares her thoughts, feelings, and incredible experiences from being in India. (00:22:10-00:25:16)
  • We talk about the lessons she learned from Hinduism and Buddhism. (00:25:17-00:26:56)
  • Sharon shares her perspective on Buddhism, as an oral tradition that should be meaningfully practiced and passed on to the next generation. (00:26:57-00:29:07)
  • Visiting forces and finding balance in every encounter. (00:29:08-00:32:42)
  • We talk about how our awareness is bigger than any visiting force. (00:32:43-00:34:38)
  • Understanding the role of insight and awareness. (00:34:39-00:37:41)
  • How to hold darkness within the light. (00:37:42-00:40:22)
  • How Sharon meditates in her own daily life through consistent practice. (00:40:23-00:44:07)
  • Balancing the challenge of showing compassion to the self, while still having resilience in your meditation practice. (00:44:08-00:46:53)
  • The irony of meditation: How the practice of solitude is actually about a deeper connection with others. (00:46:54-00:54:59)
  • We talk about the relationship between Zen Buddhism and creativity. (00:55:00-00:58:42)
  • We discuss the overlapping differences and similarities that exist between religions and cultures. (00:58:52-1:02:39)
  • Sharon talks about the modern trend which sees the widespread adoption of meditation and its practices in the West. (1:02:54-1:04:54)
  • Sharon gives us an update on her work and her perception of our society’s current needs. (1:04:55-1:08:27)
  • Where you can find and connect with Sharon on social media. (1:08:28-1:08:48)

Selected Links from the Episode

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Sharon Salzberg on The Art of Mindful Connection and Real Happiness
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