There are numerous benefits to practicing meditation and mindfulness. Some may even say that it helps to relieve stress and pain, enhance the connection with your emotions, deepen your thoughts, as well as other positive and powerful perks. But with a practice that reaps so many benefits, where do you start? Sharon Salzberg, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host of the Metta Hour Podcast, meditation teacher, and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, drops by this episode to talk through the advantages of meditation and getting started.
Sharon provides advice on how to kick start your meditation practice journey and why you should consider doing so, along with sharing how she got into meditation herself. Additionally, Sharon defines mindfulness, provides an example of meditation leading to increased connectedness, and discusses how meditation can be done from anywhere. To wrap up the episode, Sharon explains how meditation can increase levels of happiness and fluctuate our happiness set point, reveals details from the books she’s written, and lists resources for practicing guided meditation.
Read Show Notes From This Episode (click to expand and read notes from the full interview)
- Wes says meditation has changed the life of one of his business partners.Why should Wes meditate? Sharon says try it to see if it intrigues you. Don’t FORCE yourself. Just see what seems reasonable to you. Maybe 3 times per week for a month. Each time you practice. It can be 5 minutes. Doesn’t have to be more than 12 minutes per day, 3-5 days per week. For Sharon, it’s easier to just do it every day so she doesn’t put it off.
Meditation is about changing our relationship with everything we experience.
Wes asks what got her into doing this. She says she had a traumatic childhood. Went to college when she was 16. In her sophomore year, there was a philosophy requirement and she took Asian philosophy. She was very fragmented at the age of 18. She wanted to do meditation at age 18 in Buffalo and they didn’t have one so she created one and they let her go to India to study for a year.
Sharon had a certain vision – she really wanted to learn the “how to.” She found it. She began meditating on 1/7/71. Methods of mindfulness, getting centered. Methods of connection. Caring and compassion. She hasn’t looked back since.
Mindfulness is a quality of attention – our perception of what’s happening in the moment isn’t as distorted by distraction or pre-conception, etc.
Sharon’s favorite definition of mindfulness comes from a 4th grade classroom in Oakland, CA. In regard to the little kids, a person said that mindfulness means not hitting someone in the mouth. Very aware of what’s happening. Neither falling into it or pushing it away.
Learning how to let go more gently, with more kindness toward ourselves.
How many times per day do we need to start over? Course correction. A lot.
It can be as simple as drinking a cup of tea and not multitasking. Really take time to enjoy the tea.
If we were less distracted – what does that do for a spread thing American? Sharon talks about mindfulness with first responders and active-duty military people. Executive function increases. Clarity of mind. Perspective. You notice “Oh that’s a lampshade, not an enemy combatant.” and don’t fire your gun.
Mindfulness increases self knowledge. Sharon brings up – when she sits and practices mindfulness of her own fear – any intense emotion – all her emotion is going outward. In mindfulness, we pivot. What am I feeling? Leads to relief and space.
Knowing how to react to thoughts. You can’t avoid the thoughts coming into your head. If you have that expectation you’ll be frustrated. It can cut down but it’s mostly the relationship that shifts.
Sharon says if we can see our thoughts before they take over, then we are empowered. There are times in her life when she says “Why am I rehearsing that?”.
Mediation is very portable. 12 minutes per day. You don’t have to shut your eyes. You can breathe. Remember our values and priorities. A simple tool that’s always with us.
You can meditate while you’re being active. Don’t go into a deep state of tranquility while driving (laughs) but yeah you can. Feeling your hands on the steering wheel, etc.
Daniel Kahneman got a Nobel Prize for Economics – he does a presentation about the happiness set point.
Mediation raises your happiness set points.
They bring up how the headspace app connects with Waze. Laughs.
Wes and Sharon talk about the love-hate relationship with writing books. Sharon says it is her creative medium and so much of her early teaching (before Zoom) – it was the people in the room and that’s who you were getting close to. The first time she wrote a book led people to write to her and say “I read your book!”
“Love and Happiness” went around the world. Originally it was called “Why Meditate?” but a friend was naming it the same thing.
Happiest Retiree on the Block. They wouldn’t let him name it that.
Sharon’s latest book is “Real Change.” What was unfolding in her teaching life – working with caregivers. Or caregiving professionals – first responders.
What’s a practical step for mediation – buy the book “Real Happiness.” Or there are so many on youtube, etc. So many people learn stuff from youtube. Sharon has some meditations on youtube.
The book that Sharon is writing now is “Real Life.”
Metta (means love and kindness) – Sharon’s podcast.
Watch the full episode!
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