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November 5, 2017
The Tim Ferriss Show: Sharon Salzberg, World-Renowned Meditation Teacher
- Sharon is a central figure in the field of meditation
- Sharon’s mother died when she was 9
- Her parents divorced when she was 4
- After her mother died, she lived with her father’s parents, as her father was for the most part out of her life
Her First Encounter With Buddhism and Mindfullness
- As a sophomore in college she took an Asian philosophy course, which introduced her to the subject
- From this class, she learned there is something we can do about this suffering, besides just holding/withstanding it
- “Suffering is a part of life, it’s not just me”
- For an independent study program, she went to India to study meditation
- Before leaving, she went to a talk given by a teacher of Tibetian Buddhisim
- She asked him where in India she should go to study, he said: “I think you had best follow the pretense of accident”
- Have no set plan, allow things to unfold but stay close to your intention
Advice for someone going into a 10-Day Meditation retreat for the first time
- Many people are nervous about being silent for that long
- “For once in our lives, we can truly be ourselves”
- The first day and a half is pretty rough
Any advice to Type A personality people who are having trouble meditating?
- It’s impossible to fail at meditation. The question is not, “What is happening?” but “How am I relating to what’s happening?”
- Just be kind to yourself, no matter what’s happening
- Tim – “Don’t judge the session based on how many times you lose focus, the practice itself is how many times you come back to focus”
- “The healing is in the return, not in never having wandered to begin with”
- The secret ingredient is self-compassion and kindness towards yourself
What is the minimum effective dose of meditation?
- Tim has noticed 20 minutes a day, for 5-10 days straight works very well for him, then he can dial back if need be
- 9 minutes a day will cause changes in the brain, but Sharon also recommends 20
- However, do what you can do, just be consistent
- The intensive retreat serves as a tool to deepen confidence and clarity in your practice
How to Meditate
- Start by choosing an object (a mantra/the breath) and settle your attention on it
- Then just be mindful of your emotions, fears, desires, feelings etc.
- “Mindfulness is the basis for insight”
The Loving-Kindness Meditation
- How Tim does this – Just think of two people and wish them to be happy, really put all your thought into it
- This trains us to pay attention differently
- Sharon suggests starting the meditation by radiating loving-kindness towards yourself, then neutral people, then towards people you find it difficult to do this too, then finally all beings everywhere
- People tend to have a bad habit of only seeing the bad things/mistakes we made at the end of the day…this helps us see the good things
- A good analogy – this is attuning your attention to the good/happy. It’s kind of like buying a new car. and then constantly noticing that particular car on the road.
The Word Love
- It’s lost a lot of meaning, as it’s used very often
- In Buddhism – ‘Mettā’ means ‘loving-kindness’
- Love is about connection. The loving kindness meditation is about connecting more deeply to ourselves and others
How to Deal with Anger
- Pause, maybe its better to wait before responding
- Remember your intentions, what is the goal if the interaction?
- Tim – If you’re experimenting with fasting, never email on the second or third day
With meditation – others see the changes in us, before we see the change in ourselves
- Don’t examine the meditation practice itself to quantify progress, look to your life instead
- Tim describes a friend who began taking low does Lithium Orotate (5mg) to reduce anger. Other people noticed the benefits before Tim’s friend himself had.
- For Tim, when he meditates consistently, he is less likely to lash out
How does Sharon think about success?
- A lot of people talk about scaling (effect as many people as possible). Sharon just tries to impact as little as 3 people in an audience of 100.
- Focus on impacting one person at a time.
What challenges is Sharon facing at the moment
- She says yes to too many things causing her to be tired
- She has trouble taking breaks
How does Sharon deal with being overwhelmed/face dark periods?
- One book she wrote, Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, is relevant to this
- In dark times, she looks for connection
- Her mantra – “Do not be frightened if a sadness greater than you’ve ever known before comes up, life has not forgotten you”
- Everybody suffers, it’s part of life, you haven’t been abandoned
- Tim highly recommends Real Love
- Sharon’s parting thought
- Let love be apart of the conversation
- Do the good that’s in front of you, even if it seems very small
- Your problems might seem massive or insermountable, but just do the best you can step by step