I have read a lot of books on mindfulness and followed many meditation teachers over the years. Some help me understand the practice of meditation better. Some help me understand myself better. But Sharon Salzberg has helped me understand life better.
Sharon Salzberg is one of the most well-known teachers of mindfulness in the world. She has been teaching for more than four decades, is a founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, the author of numerous books (which I’ll mention below), and the host of the wildly popular Metta Hour podcast. This is a fantastic resume to be sure, but it’s not what I like most about Salzberg.
What I like most is that, despite this resume, Salzberg’s teachings don’t come across as esoteric, ethereal, or even professorial. They are down-to-earth, practical, and human. If you read her books or listen to her podcast, it’s immediately clear that Salzberg knows her stuff but she always talks to you and never at you. In fact, though I certainly have experienced a mind and heart expansion from reading Salzberg’s works, reading them didn’t feel like being taught. Instead, reading Salzberg’s books felt more like talking about life with a wise friend or good neighbor.
If you are reading this blog, the odds are that you have heard of Sharon Salzberg and you may have already encountered some of her works. What you may not realize and what I didn’t appreciate until I sat down to write this post is how extensive and broadly applicable her work was. Salzberg is perhaps most well-known for her teachings on my favorite meditation practice, loving-kindness. But what I hope you get from this post is that her work can help you learn how to live loving-kindness too.
To more clearly illustrate what I am talking about here, I provide a few summaries of the books from Sharon Salzberg that I have enjoyed the most:
This is a book that explains the practice of loving-kindness in depth. It discusses each aspect of the practice to support the process of opening the heart more broadly. As I explain in my own book, loving-kindness is a dynamic practice that includes both body awareness, mental imagery, and emotional understanding. This book breaks the practice down in a simple way to help support you in your practice.
This book is for anyone seeking stability and inspiration to keep working to make the world a better place. I read this book years ago as I was reeling from the bruising 2020 election and I can’t tell you the healing it brought me. It explains how mindfulness can be a stabilizing force in the work towards change and how compassion can inspire action even amid fear. She also offers more resources relating to political action and election stress on her website which is bound to be helpful to many as we head into a new election cycle.
The goal of this blog is to help lawyers and professionals not just learn about meditation but bring mindfulness into their lives and work. That’s the goal of this book from Salzberg too. It embeds mindfulness concepts and practices into the life of work. What I like best are the micro practices sprinkled into every chapter to help you incorporate mindfulness into your work regardless of your experience (or lack thereof) with meditation practice.
This is Salzberg’s latest book. There are many teachers who talk about the process of contracting or tightening during difficulty, including Tara Brach. This book, though, explains how easy it is to do that habitually throughout our lives. It offers teachings about how to open back up again to get what we actually want out of life: meaning, connection, and peace. In a time when the world seems intent on making us afraid and isolated, this book will help you rebalance again towards hope and calm.
If you are interested in learning more, Salzberg has a loving-kindness challenge coming up in September with five days of teachings and practices. Fortunately, we can expect to see more from Salzberg. In her latest book, Real Life, Salzberg discussed the fact that she is going to be devoting more of her time to writing. This has already proven to be fruitful, with the recent release of a 10th anniversary edition of her book, Love Your Enemies, which is next on my reading list.
Salzberg is a teacher who has made mindfulness practices accessible and approachable to thousands of people around the world. Whether you do a few of her guided meditations or do a deep dive into all of her books, you are bound to learn not just about mindfulness, but also some skills for life.
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.
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