Interview with Sharon Salzberg: How Lovingkindness Can Help People in Pain.

Listen to the interview here.

One out of three Americans experiences chronic pain. Yet how many ill individuals are prepared to deal with the isolation, disappointment, and self-aggression that arises with pain that doesn’t go away? In this interview with NY Times best-selling author and world-renowned Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg, I ask how can the practice of lovingkindness help people with pain?

My injury in my mid-twenties changed my life: my career, physical abilities, finances, and even relationships. Through her sense of humor, and stories from decades of teaching and international travel, Salzberg reveals how self-love can be cultivated during a difficult time. Individuals with pain are in a unique position to learn “the art of friendship” toward themselves and others.

She puts a fresh spin on the story of Milarepa; how the seemingly solitary practice of meditation can lead to a sense of universal connection and freedom from shame. This is an intimate conversation with one of the West’s leading Buddhist teachers about what inner healing really means.

Listen here.

Interview notes:

  • How does Sharon define loving kindness? [54 seconds]
  • The “Art of Friendship” toward ourselves and others. [1:40]
  • Lovingkindness doesn’t impede clear thinking; it actually produces it. [2:39]
  • Harsh, stress-filled environments briefly spike our performance, but then we crash. [3:38]
  • Why is compassion in such short supply for people experiencing pain? [5:39]
  • Culturally, there’s a strong conditioning to be in control. We are taught to define getting ill or getting old even as a loss of control. [6:03]
  • We think we’re the only one suffering this way. Yet, the vulnerability of our situation can help us feel closer to everybody. [8:10]
  • People think of meditation as a solitary pursuit, like going off into a cave for years. [10:07]
  • What is the one question Sharon asks every time she teaches at an office or jobsite? [11:52]
  • What meditation technique is recommended for beginners? [15:08]
  • The first thing to look for with pain are the “add-ons” – the judgments, anticipations, and blames, which compound our suffering. [21:55]
  • The most common question Dan is asked on meditation programs. [25:50]
  • “We can always begin again” – an extremely powerful life lesson learned from meditation. [26:33]
  • An on-the-spot practice of lovingkindness you can do anywhere. How to offer yourself a blessing. [29:36]


Sharon Salzberg’s most recent book, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection, is just out on paperback.


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