How To Be Present, With Sharon Salzberg

This week, we’re learning how to be more present with meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. Hear her talk with Alice and Melissa about the ways the pandemic has highlighted just how interconnected we are, and what we can do to find a little stability in the uncertainty. Sharon is the New York Times bestselling author of "Real Happiness," "Lovingkindness," and "Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection." Her newest book, "Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World," comes out in September.

We also had Sharon on the show back in 2017 for an episode called How to Find Real Love, which we highly recommend checking out as well!

Listen to The Upgrade above or find us in all the usual places podcasts are served, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher.

Highlights from this week’s episode

From the Sharon Salzberg Interview

On how meditation can serve to remind us of how interconnected we are:

[F]irst of all it’s a great irony in terms of meditation because it looks like the most solitary activity in the universe. Like you’re just sitting there. You know maybe with your eyes closed. But it serves to connect you to a wider sense of life and others. And even apart from the meditation, it’s so crucial in physical isolation to remember that we are all connected. And I’ve seen, you know, with friends, for example, just tremendous resilience or in upliftment when they’ve been able to help somebody else. And the help may not be extraordinary. But it’s it’s some way of making contact. A friend in New York told me that she never knew the names of a single one of her neighbours. And now everyone has exchanged phone numbers in case they need help. And I know so many stories like that. What seemed like little things, but really bring us to, to another place of energy and ability to go on.

On how building the ability to be present and take account of what you do and don’t know can help keep us from spiraling:

I’m actually more afraid when they think I do know and it’s going be really bad. And it’s all the stories I spin that really get me going. And even in the midst of that, if I remind myself, “You know what? You don’t know.” I feel some space. I feel relief. And that’s the kind of thing where, you know, obviously we need to plan intelligently to the degree that we can or we need to respond to the moment that takes an action to the future...But the ways we ruminate and we just make these anxious projections. “It’s going to be so terrible, I’m never going to get back to New York, in this way and that way...” That is just adding a burden to ourselves. And so I treasure those skills that I’ve been cultivating, like, wait a minute, you don’t have to go there. And in the nicest possible way, speaking to yourself, saying, “it’s all right, I can let go of that. Let me come back to what is.”

On grappling with anger:

I would never want anyone to discount the kind of importance of the anger in a way. What we don’t want is anger is a kind of chronic state or so overpowering or so overwhelming that it becomes the motivation for how we act, what we speak, what we do. And the reason I say that is for a number of reasons. You know, in the Buddhist psychology, they say anger is like a forest fire which can burn up its own support. It can destroy us in the end. And yet it’s got a kind of energy that, you know, it’s not passive, it’s not complacent. It can draw a boundary. It can name what’s wrong. And sometimes I think we know that in a meeting or something like that, it’s the angriest person in the room that’s pointing out the uncomfortable truth that no one else wants to look at and maybe studiously avoiding, you know. So there’s a strength there. And what we want to do is have that strength and sense of purpose and boundary, but not be governed by it.

Hear more of Sharon’s wisdom and words of advice for the present moment by listening to the full episode.

Episode Transcript


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