22: Sharon Salzberg - Reinventing Your Relationship With Your Thoughts - Author of Real Happiness


Tricia and I are thrilled to have Sharon Salzberg on the show today. She is the author of Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation which is like a mindfulness Bible to us. She is also the author of Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. Sharon shares how she discovered mindfulness in 1968, studied in India, and opened Insight Meditation Society.

We get to ask her questions about what mindfulness really is, how to get started meditating and so much more. This episode is a look into mindfulness, connection, love, and how to have a better relationship with your thoughts. We even learn Sharon’s name for her inner critic, and more.

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Sharon Salzberg
Twitter: @SharonSalzberg
Facebook: @SharonSalzberg



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  • [01:15] Sharon went to college at New York State University of Buffalo in 1968. In her sophomore year, she took an Asian philosophy course. This course completely changed your life.

  • [01:47] She had a chaotic and traumatic childhood. She started talking about the Buddhist perspective on life which includes the fact that life has suffering.

  • [02:22] This was a liberating feeling to realize that she was a part of life.

  • [02:30] She learned that there were meditation practices that you could do that would make you happier.

  • [02:51] She created a project to go to India and study meditation. The year was 1970, and that is how she began.

  • [03:23] In 1974, she came back with a directive to teach.

  • [04:10] In 1976, she bought a property and opened it as the Insight Meditation Society. It is now a retreat Meditation Center.

  • [05:30] Most of the retreats are silent and a deep immersion into your own self.

  • [06:00] It's good to read and listen to recordings to get the sense of the landscape of meditation.

  • [07:16] People commonly say that they tried meditation and filled at it. People often have expectations that make them think that they failed.

  • [08:00] Meditation isn't about changing your relationship with thoughts, and you can't fail.

  • [08:47] It's a training and practice that helps us be more mindful of our own experiences.

  • [09:43] What often happens when people have discomfort is that they project it into the future.This creates future stress.

  • [12:41] It's not a small thing to know how we're feeling when we're feeling it.

  • [14:37] If you're angry hold your anger like you're holding an angry child.

  • [16:16] The word associated with the meditation practice is loving kindness.

  • [17:45] Love is a powerful sense of connection.

  • [20:38] Sharon is profoundly grateful for her practice.

  • [21:15] In meditation, you let go gently and then come back.

  • [22:41] Give your inner critic a persona.

  • [24:52] You can develop a different relationship with anything that comes up.

  • [26:05] It's real when you're feeling it, but it may not be true.

  • [26:44] Sharon pays a lot of attention to the coming back moment in her meditation practice.

  • [27:59] Often it's the add-ons that make an already painful situation more painful.

  • [29:42] Sending love and kindness to difficult people can actually change your heart and how you feel about those people.

  • [31:00] Don't give your time, energy, and thinking to someone who you can't change over and over again.

  • [31:47] There are forces that bring us together that are amazing in some way.

  • [32:47] It's important to take your mindfulness practice out into the world.

  • [34:08] One way to practice is having a time when your intention is to cultivate focus, love and kindness.

  • [34:52] Have a few moments of breathing that can break up the momentum of a meeting.

  • [35:56] Have a dedicated period where you can meditate.


“Silent meditation is a beautiful experience. For once in our lives, we don't have to present ourselves to anyone. We can just be.” Sharon Salzberg

“With meditation, we aren't concerned with the absence of thought, we are empowered by our ability to change our relationship with thoughts.” Sharon Salzberg

“The best environment to make progress in meditation is one of self-compassion and self-care.This is how we start again and have the most resilience.” Sharon Salzberg