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Sharon Salzberg

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The Irony of Attachment. In the process of writing my next book Real Love, I’ve found myself asking students, friends, and colleagues about their associations between the words “attachment” and “love.” Too often, we confuse love with attachment — a state of mind characterized by clinginess, greed, and the impulse to possess. To me, love is a form of generosity. It is an expansive state of mind in which we feel an inner resource of abundance. In love, we are able to access our inner resource of self-care and compassion to understand a deeper and more universal sense of connection and presence.

Mindfulness allows us to create a sense of expansiveness in the way we look at the world, as it allows us to realize that awareness can be found in any moment. “The mind will get filled with qualities like mindfulness, like lovingkindness, moment by moment — just the way a bucket gets filled with water drop by drop.” Yet most of us exhibit two powerful tendencies when it comes to this metaphor. “It was so unfortunate! How Doing Nothing Can Help You Truly Live - Sharon Salzberg. This article was originally published on The Huffington Post, May 4, 2010 When the retreat center I co-founded, the Insight Meditation Society, first opened, someone created a mock brochure describing a retreat there, with sayings like, “Come to IMS and have all the tea you could ever drink.”

It also featured a wonderful made up motto for us: “It is better to do nothing than to waste your time.” I loved that motto, and thought it exemplified a lot about how meditation serves to help us unplug. Although that motto never made it into our official presentation, it actually was an accurate description of insight meditation, or mindfulness meditation. Basically, we enter into mindfulness practice so that we can learn how to do nothing and not waste our time, because wasting our time is wasting our lives.

We come to meditation to learn how not to act out the habitual tendencies we generally live by, those actions that create suffering for ourselves and others, and get us into so much trouble. Meditation: What It Is... and Isn't - Sharon Salzberg. When I first returned in 1974 from studying in India, I’d commonly find myself at a party or social situation where someone would ask me, “What do you do.” When I replied, “I teach meditation,” I’d more often than not hear them say “Oh,” as they sidled away. The implication of their reaction was very clear; “That’s weird!” Nowadays, largely because of scientific research into meditation’s affect on the brain and immune system, and the pioneering efforts of clinicians to study the effects of meditation on all areas of life where the quality of our attention makes a difference, (such as depression, anxiety, addiction, healing,) the most common response I hear when I say, “I teach meditation,” is “I’m so stressed out, I could really use you.”

I am also amused to sometimes hear, “You know, my partner should really meet you.” A more disconcerting, and fairly common response is, “I tried meditation once. This classic meditation approach is designed to deepen the force of concentration. Healing Through Adversity - Sharon Salzberg. In a time of despair, when I felt disconnected from all that was good in my life, I was helped a lot by something Rilke wrote to comfort a troubled young man in Letters to a Young Poet: “So you mustn’t be frightened . . . if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen. . . . You must realize . . . that life has not forgotten you. . . .”

A sense of having been forgotten by “normal” life is common when we are going through difficult times, as if we are trapped in a parallel universe where broken people live. But when we realize that healing can spring from the deepest sorrow, we regain our connection with the suffering world and trust that we can reenter the “unbroken” zone. Awareness of connection creates the path for transforming suffering into positive change. It is possible to metabolize grief in ways that don’t produce hostility but that nourish our lives, our families, and our communities, and offer lessons for moral and spiritual growth. Seeing the Second Option: What's In Avoidance. The word dukkha in Pali, the language of the original Buddhist texts, refers to the pain that arises out of the ungovernable nature of events in our lives. It points to those uncomfortable feelings that arise when we are faced with the fleeting nature of all things: sorrow, discontent, dis-ease, disappointment — all of which are difficult to bear.

In English, the common translation of dukkha is “suffering,” and sometimes more nouveau translators refer to dukkha as “stress.” But neither of these English words completely captures the subtlety of dukkha: it points to that deep sense of not-quite-rightness about life. One of the traditional Buddhist illustrations of the term dukkha shows a chariot with an axle that simply doesn’t fit quite right. If the chariot were to move, there would be a rub, a jolt. As I’ve been preparing for upcoming retreats and writing my next book, I’ve found myself thinking about dukkha in terms of what its opposite might mean.

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