Compassionate Resilience with Sharon Salzberg is a 7-day transformational journey that will give you the tools to live your life with more presence, power, and peace. Through just 20 minutes a day of dharma (teaching) and meditating, you learn to ground yourself in the present, no matter the difficult situations that surround you.
Compassionate Resilience with Sharon Salzberg
Compassionate Resilience with Sharon Salzberg is a 7-day transformational journey that will give you the tools to live your life with more presence, power, and peace.
Sharon Salzberg is a New York Times bestselling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices, with an emphasis on vipassanā (insight) and mettā (loving-kindness). In 1974, she co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein and has been leading meditation retreats around the world for over three decades. Her books include Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (1995), A Heart as Wide as the World (1999), Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation (2010), and the follow-up Real Happiness at Work (2013). In 1999, Sharon was honored by the New York Open Center for her "Outstanding Contribution to the Mindfulness of the West."
Welcome to Compassionate Resilience! In the course, we are going to look and participate in key practices that will bring presence and balance, wisdom and love, to any circumstance we face, including those that are the most challenging. The natural result of this process is a deep sense of gratitude, personal growth, and connection to others.
02: Day 1: Centering
Many of us would say that our minds are kind of scattered and distracted, not necessarily in every arena of life, but at least in some. Our minds, our attention, and our energy often jump into the past. When they go to the past, it's not necessarily in a useful way, which is possible. Oftentimes it's ruminating about things we now regret. But we're not thinking for ways to make them immense or for lessons learned; we're just going over it. Or our minds jump to the future and we create a scenario that has not yet happened, and may never happen, but still we are filled with anxiety about the possibility we are imaging could happen. Today, we look at the power of centering, which is really the art of concentration.
03: Day 1: Daily Meditation for Centering
Today’s meditation is all about centering, which we find through focusing on the breath. Your attention is going into the breath, one breath at a time. If you get lost in thought, spun out in a fantasy, or fall asleep, don't worry. The most important moment is the moment after you've been gone, after you've lost it. That's the moment we can practice letting go. We can practice beginning again. It doesn't matter how many times you have to do that. The healing is in the return, not in never having wandered to begin with. We let go and we start over.
04: Day 2: Beginning Again
We each have a certain idea of what we deserve. What is the story you tell yourself about what you need, about your limits or goals, or what your life is about? Very often there is a theme. In this lesson, we look at the tools, skills, exercises, and habits we have that have stood us in good stead, but that we may need to renew. We look at behaviors we reach for because we think they're going to make us stronger, but they actually bring us down. They weaken us. They harm us in some way. And we can be empowered to realize, "You know, I have the power of choice in each direction. I can seek to amplify the tools or the skills I've had. I can learn new ones and have that spirit of adventure. I can actually let go."
05: Day 2: Daily Reflection for Beginning Again
Do you know the narrative of your life? We each have a story. These stories tend to be very conditioned; the best thing about seeing conditioning as just that - conditioning - is also understanding that our stories about life can change. Today, we remind ourselves that everything can change. As difficult as the circumstances are, we are meeting them from a different place. We learn to take care of ourselves in a different way.
06: Day 3: Compassion
We can sit with our anger and we can sit with our fear, because in some ways our awareness is stronger than that feeling. We can develop that relationship of discovery with whatever may be coming our way. If we can have compassion toward these feelings and pay attention to them in a different way, we have the possibility of insight and understanding. Our fear is not bad; it's painful. Our anger is not bad; it's merely painful when we are lost in it, when we're overcome by it, or when we're defined by it. The task is not to make anything go away, dismiss it, or deny it but to truly develop a different relationship to these feelings.
07: Day 3: Daily Meditation for Compassion
The following is an exercise where we pay attention to difficult feelings. We call to mind those difficult emotions. Notice what it's like when the pain is there. Is it with the same disparagement and impatience, or do you actually feel that tenderness of kindness? We end by coming back to feeling the breath. The breath can serve as an anchor. It's a resting place, a home base, so that even as we venture out into looking at different emotional terrain, we always come back.
08: Day 4: Open to Joy
Many people, like evolutionary biologists, will say that we are wired to predominantly look for danger, for threat, for what's wrong in our lives, and that it could take some conscious effort, a kind of intentionality, to take in the good and be able to acknowledge it. Also at times we have such a strangely perfectionistic standard of what should be happening, that it's just not good enough. Or we feel like life shouldn’t be a certain way. That we can’t allow ourselves to feel pain or accept that there is pain in our lives. Today, we're going to be talking about opening to joy. Taking in the good, acknowledging it, savoring it, and taking delight in what's good is a powerful way of restoring ourselves, finding resilience, and being able to go on in a different way.
09: Day 4: Daily Meditation for Open to Joy
Notice what thoughts come up in your mind as you practice letting in the joy during today’s practice. Do you have a sense of being less confined, less limited, less stuck in habit? What's the energy of it? You're bringing the skill of gentle interest and curiosity, as well as being able to let go, to this practice–and your life.
10: Day 5: Lovingkindness
Lovingkindness is the common term for what in the Buddhist tradition is called metta. It's usually translated as lovingkindness. Sometimes it's love. Sometimes it’s the force of connection. We talk about lovingkindness not in terms of liking somebody or approving of them; rather, lovingkindness is about having this bone deep recognition that our lives are connected. For ourselves, it's a way of appreciating our potential. No matter what we've gone through, no matter who we are, what our history, or what we may yet go through, there is within us this possibility of growth, of change, of clarity, of love, and connection. We practice lovingkindness as a way of affirming that truth.
11: Day 5: Daily Meditation for Lovingkindness
Today, we’re going to do a lovingkindness meditation. Instead of resting our attention on the feeling of the breath, we're going to rest our attention on the silent repetition of certain phrases. The phrases are the way we pay attention differently. “May I be safe. Be happy. Be healthy. Live with ease.” It's not a practice where you're trying to force a special emotion or feeling. The power of the practice comes from completely gathering our attention behind one phrase at a time. Feelings may come and go. Experiences will come and go. The most important thing is experimenting and seeing what happens.
12: Day 6: Interdependence
Think of a tree. It seems to be a solitary thing. It's an entity in our garden or a park, and that's true. We don't want to deny that. However, there's another level of truth in which we look at the tree, and we can sense the soil that is nourishing it and everything that affects the quality of that soil, which includes the rainfall and everything that affects the quality of that rainfall. We can sense the sunlight, the moonlight, and the quality of the air. We extend that to the boundlessness of life, acknowledging our connection to all of life, and realizing maybe that's what we want to represent in the world, the truth of how connected we all are. And we can see the deeper reality of how our life is functioning, and not feel so cut off and alone because, in truth, we're not.
13: Day 6: Daily Meditation for Interdependence
Today, we do a practice of lovingkindness for all beings based on the truth of interconnection. Who comes to mind when you contemplate the question, “Who has contributed to the fact that I’m sitting here right now doing this practice?” Everything connects us to a bigger picture of life. And we can acknowledge that through the offering of loving-kindness. It begins with offering loving-kindness to ourselves. That's the foundation.
14: Day 7: Taking Action
Today, we look at the three different elements of action: intention, execution, and letting go. By doing this inner work, we cultivate greater mindfulness and insight, as well as love and compassion, because the practice of compassionate resilience changes how we live. We take action in a different way. There's something very enlivening and very empowering in reclaiming our sense of integrity into these arenas where we can continually grow and change.
15: Day 7: Daily Meditation for Taking Action
What guides your life? What guides your choices? Today’s exercise is all about looking at our core values, which make up our choices, the force of our intention, and the ways in which we look at what's skillful and unskillful.
16: Thank You
Congratulations on completing Compassionate Resilience! Hopefully by now you are experiencing more joy, love, and connection in your life–and you know how to relate to your thoughts and feelings in a way that cultivates spaciousness and peace in your life. May this work continue to serve you as you use these mindfulness techniques and meditations going forward.
17: Question and Answer Session: Live Call with Sharon Salzberg
This live Q&A with Sharon was recorded on September 2, 2020.