Release Date

December 15th, 2021

Share

Listen on

Sharon Salzberg has maintained a meditation practice for nearly fifty years and during that time she has become one of our most compassionate and compelling teachers. To learn from Sharon is to commit to opening your heart and, ultimately, to extend compassion to yourself, to others—and even to your enemies. Join Sharon and Zainab for a remarkable, open-hearted conversation about the intersection between self-love and self-acceptance, the roots of empathy and understanding, and more stories and teachings from Sharon’s fascinating and impactful life.

“We all do have potential to be . . . I mean, some traditions would say divine. Others would say to be realized, to live a life of love and compassion and wisdom.”

INSPIRATION

TRANSCRIPT

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Redefined is hosted by me, Zainab Salbi, and brought to you by FindCenter, a search engine for your soul. Part library, part temple, FindCenter presents a world of wisdom, organized. Check it out today at www.findcenter.com and please subscribe to Redefined for free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

[introductory piano music]

What’s most important about life? What is the essence of life? Is it what we do, how much we earn, how many social media followers we have, or is it, do we live our lives in kindness to ourselves and to others? Do we live our lives in love to ourselves and to others? In nearly losing my life, I was confronted with these questions and it led me to the conversations that make up Redefined, about how we draw our inner maps and the pursuit of meaningful personal change.

My guest this time is pioneering meditation instructor and bestselling author Sharon Salzberg. For almost fifty years, Sharon has been meditating, and in that time she has become one of our most compelling and compassionate teachers. To follow Sharon is to make a commitment to opening your heart and learning to extend compassion to yourself, to others, and even to your enemies. Our conversation covers a great deal about her own development, and about her relationship with love, and all of it moved me deeply. We discuss Sharon’s difficult formative years, to working towards something more luminous. This is the conversation I’ve been looking forward to. And as in every exchange with Sharon, I came away with a feeling of new stability, progress, and, definitely, love. Join me.

[piano music fades out]

I’ve been thinking about how to start and reading your books and listening to your podcast and all your wisdom throughout time reminds me of this Rumi poem, so I’m going to start with this poem, and it’s called “The Guest House.” It’s one of my favorite poems. I see you nodding, and it says, “This being human is a guest house. Every morning, a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house, empty of its furniture; still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice—meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” And I feel like this has been your life. I mean, and your teachings, but also your personal life. So, can you tell me, how do you experience this poem, and how have you experienced the joy and the sorrow and all these emotions in your life and transformed them into wisdom for all of us?

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah. Well, thank you. I mean, I love the poem and it is a meaningful thread, maybe the most meaningful thread of my own life, and I can look back at different times, because I started meditating fifty years ago, which is unbelievable. So, I can look back over a long stretch of time and think, “Oh, in 1971, this meditation teacher said this to me. In 1973, or thereabouts, this other meditation teacher said that to me,” and basically, they’re all saying the same thing because I had, it seemed, like a primary lesson, which is reflected in that poem. I really needed to unlock some ability to not be so self-critical, so judgmental, being able to recognize what I’d been hearing all along, but I didn’t really trust, was that the meditation practice in a way was about creating a holding environment. It was creating an environment within which the joys and the sorrows and the things I’d rather not tell anybody about and the mind-states and the emotions I consider triumphant and all of it could happen.

And like most people, I had my narrow band of acceptable things to feel, which was not very wild on either end. It was pretty contained and it was only over time and working with various teachers and my own practice and probably just growing up because I was only eighteen when I went to India that there was just a growing understanding of that, which led to everything: much less fear, a greater self-confidence, an ability to see myself and others because I was much more in touch with a wider range of feelings and so on. So, I should probably read that poem to myself every day just to remind myself like, “Hey, remember, this was key.”

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Why were you so self-critical? You said you were self-critical before the embarkment of that experience. What happened? Why were you?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, I think if I look back, certainly, my childhood was very traumatic. It was very disrupted. My parents divorced when I was four. My mother died when I was nine and then I went to live with my father’s parents. I hadn’t seen them since I was four. It just went on from there and there was very much a sense, I think, of my life in abeyance. I was waiting. The blessing, the enormous blessing was that I just had a knowing, somehow, “things can be better. You can feel better. It can happen. You just have to hang in there,” which I did. I was going to school and then I went to college when I was sixteen, went to India when I was eighteen. And in many ways, that was the beginning of my authentic life, you could say. I was no longer waiting. I was unfolding it, actually, in real time, but I didn’t have the ability to find myself in others, which I mentioned before. I think that my family looked really strange and, compared to the norm, that I thought everyone else had somehow, but for me.

And it was only actually when I was a sophomore in college that I took an Asian philosophy course, which ended up really being kind of a course in Buddhism, and when we got to, really, very close to the beginning, the passages we were reading and the emphasis in the class was on the Buddha talking about suffering in life, which for most people is kind of a downer. It sounds like it’ll be really depressing, but for me, it was such an enormous relief. It was like hearing, “Oh, you’re not so weird. You belong. This is a part of life. This is not a character flaw. This isn’t something to be ashamed of and try to hide in some way. This is a part of life, and it’s true for everybody,” and that was I think the most liberating consideration I’d ever had, and I also of course heard in the context of that class that there was such a thing as meditation. There were tools, there were techniques, there were methods one could use and actually be a lot happier.

So, I was going to college in Buffalo, New York. I looked around Buffalo. Did not see it anywhere because it was of course a long time ago. So, I created this independent study project. I said, “I want to go to India and study meditation,” and they said, “Okay.” So off I went.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I’ve heard the story of you going to college at sixteen. Isn’t that younger than normal or is it my imagination?

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah, it’s a little bit younger. I’m a product of the New York City public school system, which I don’t know about now, but they like to have people skip grades when they could. That’s why I have the world’s worst penmanship because I skipped third grade. I never really learned to write and I skipped eighth grade.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

But that mean[s] that you were just a very smart student? Is that what it meant?

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah. [laughs]

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Oh, that’s pretty cool. That’s not something to like go, “Oh.” I was like, “That was when she was really smart. She’s still very smart,” but you were very smart in school, it meant. Wow. That’s pretty cool. Well, the second question is, you grew up in a Jewish household, if I remember, or households because, I read somewhere, that you had . . . by the time you were sixteen, you were with five families. What was the impact of Judaism on your life?

Sharon Salzberg:

You know what? Because I lived for a time with my grandparents, my father’s parents. They were Eastern European immigrants. They were pretty conservative, which means something else in Judaism. They were pretty observant, and so I was thrust into this world of certain rituals and not turning on the lights on Saturday and things like that, which I didn’t understand and I don’t think it really meant that much to me except a series of constraints, but I also sense that finding a life of meaning was very important. And culturally, I didn’t know any other sense of belonging. That was just how it was. It was how everybody I knew was, pretty well, and later on of course in life, I would meet people who’d say to me, “I never met a Jewish person until I was in college,” and I think, “Well, I never met someone who wasn’t Jewish until I was in college.” So, I understand the alienation.

But now, I think I have a whole other appreciation both for what it means to have a cultural legacy, what it means to have intergenerational trauma, because I didn’t understand that either. Cousins would come through, like not first cousins, but third, fourth cousins who had been in the Holocaust, who’d lost their whole immediate families, their nuclear family, and that was just the milieu, that there was trouble ahead because there was trouble behind and you had to be very wary and so there was that legacy as well, which I think came along with it.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Can one liberate oneself from the intergenerational trauma, you think?

Sharon Salzberg:

I think so. I mean, I think I have a different understanding of “liberate” maybe than I did when I was younger, because I can see that our nervous systems engage and they get aroused when we go into fight, flight, freeze, or now I hear there’s a fourth. I haven’t quite understood it yet, like faint or something like that. We fight. We get into fight, flight, freeze or this other one, which is also an F word, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there, that we have to be locked in, that we have to be defined by it and that is what I would call “liberation” is not necessarily being defined by the things that arise and here too, it’s an issue of self-criticism. We blame ourselves so ruthlessly for what we feel and when we get afraid and we get so ashamed and it’s so intense, and of course, we just exacerbate that kind of autonomic nervous system reaction, and that’s the place where I think we have tremendous power.

We may have the reaction, but we don’t have to spiral out into that kind of self-judgment. We can have a little bit of kindness toward ourselves and we can rewind. We don’t have to stay there in just those ways, and people do it in all kinds of ways, even reminding themselves, “You’re not two years old anymore,” or “You have some choice here. Let’s see where it is.” It may not be everything you would like to wipe out some situation, but there may be something, let’s find it. And there’s so many ways that people remind themselves that they don’t have to be overcome, even though the reaction has come up.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

So, you go to India, when you were eighteen years old, right? It reminds me, your journey, of another Rumi poem in which he . . . It’s a story actually about this guy in Baghdad—where I happen to be from, but it’s not relevant to the story—dreams of a treasure box buried in a house in Cairo. So, he puts all his savings together and he makes the journey from Baghdad to Cairo and that was in the thirteenth century—this poem was written in the thirteenth century—and so it’s months of traveling via camels and caravans and all of that, and he arrives at Cairo and he basically have a thief steal all his funds, all of the money he has on, and this guy is stuck in a foreign land looking for a house where he dreamt of where the treasure box is buried under, but he doesn’t have any money and so he starts begging in the street.

And at that time, it was illegal to beg and so a policeman arrests him, and the guy’s like, “No, no, no, no, no. You don’t understand. I am from Baghdad. I make this journey because I dream of a treasure box buried under this and this house,” and he describes the house in details, and the policeman, he said, “You silly man. I live in that house and there is no treasure box in that house. I dreamt the same dream except the treasure box is buried under this and this and this house in Baghdad,” and he describes the man’s house, and the point of the poem or of the story is that sometimes we have to go all the way to Cairo in order to find the treasure house that has been all along in our house and had never left.

So, again, you see how your journey to India, do we have to make that all the way journey to Cairo or to India or to wherever we go in order to find it, to find the treasure house inside of ourselves?

Sharon Salzberg:

No—I hope not! No, it’s a long journey. No. I can’t imagine that we do and yet what will affirm to us that we have innate worth if our culture, the conditions around us are saying, “No, not so much”? What will allow us to re-regulate, like fall down and pick ourselves up and start again, like have some resilience and remind us that we can, that when we’ve fallen down that it’s not the end of the story? It’s just this page. There’s so many things. What will remind us we’re not alone? We feel so isolated and it’s just me and there’s so many veils or distortions I think that most of us grow up with, and not everybody perhaps, but—

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I definitely have. [laughs] I don’t know anybody who hasn’t.

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah, and so what are the conditions that will allow us to step outside of that a little bit, even just to question it and to see if there are alternative views and come closer to what is actually reality? Because one of the big problems I think with all of those distortions is that they take us further and further from reality. We do feel like we’re all alone and anything we notice convinces us further of that, and we blame ourselves or we blame someone else when there’s really no blame to be found. It’s just we feel betrayed by getting sick as though our bodies shouldn’t have that nature or whatever. We consign people to the garbage heap basically and say, “Well, you don’t count. You’re nobody,” and I mean, there’s so much conditioning that we all have and to be able to step outside of it and say, “Wow. That doesn’t portray the truth of how life is,” that . . . I was just reading something about a homeless person. So, that’s what’s in my mind. That homeless person is a person. They had parents. They may still have parents. They may have siblings who care about them, who wonder where they are. This is a human being and we don’t usually think that way, that that’s a human being. So, anything that brings us closer to reality is a good thing, I think.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

No, I would agree actually with that. I mean, for me, in my spiritual journey—it’s still in a very junior level, I would say, compared to yours—but it started with going all the way to the symbolic Cairos, if you may, right? Wherever, whether that in being in different countries or different places or different cities or different retreats, and then over time, it did two things for me. One is I would recondition myself when I’m at home because my test was, am I feeling the same bliss when I’m at home? I could feel the bliss when I’m in that other place because I’m outside of my surroundings and the day-to-day challenges. Can I replicate it? Can I replicate the feeling inside my home?

So, one is to look at the inside from a different perspective, as you said, and one is I just wanted the feeling to be, again, the same, and I trained myself. I would put the same music on. I would put the same smell of sage on. I would put different things just so it can trigger the mind and the memory, but the second thing it did was actually my own religion. So, I grew up a Muslim, but it was a cultural practice for me. It was not a religious . . . I grew up in a very secular family. So, we fasted Ramadan and things like that, but it wasn’t a religious practice, and I had an aversion to the religious practice, if you may. I respected it, but oh, I don’t want it. Until actually recently, and what happened is that I had in that time learned from Native American—different traditions—and I learned from a Tibetan friend of mine who taught me a lot, and I truly learned from your own teachings, and other’s teachings, and I did my own journey to Cairo, if you may, and one day I was invited to Saudi Arabia to speak.

This was before a few years back, and I accepted and I realized Mecca was only an hour from where I was speaking at, and I’m like, “I can go to Mecca?” I had no desire, to be very honest, to do this pilgrimage, which is one of the mandatory in Islam, right? I was like, “This is not me,” but it was one hour away and I am curious and I’m always curious about the concept of God and the Divine and all of that. So, I go, and it’s a long journey. I’m going to not go to the details of it, but when I arrive, I realize you see millions of people, right? You see of all colors and of ethnicities and you look those who look like a fundamentalist and those who look like liberals and women and men and we’re all smashed against each other’s bodies as we are going into and counterclockwise in around what’s called the House of God, and here I am spending twenty years in America at that time learning all the different rituals from Native American rituals to Tibetan rituals, never paid attention to the rituals of my own religion, if you may, the religion I was born into.

And to see it from that perspective was an amazing experience for me, an eye-opening and a most profound spiritual experience for me because I saw it without the prejudice and the baggage of growing into it and the oppression and da, da, da. I just really saw it as is and it was similar, first of all, to all the other instructions of other traditions, and it was beautiful in its ritual, and that night, I go home to go to the hotel and I had a dream in which I asked God. I said, “God, were you there?” Because this Mecca is a house of God basically. Literally, it’s a house that Muslims believe is the house of God, and the answer I get is, “No, this was not about me. This was about bringing you all together in one place so you may see each other.”

So, I’m sharing my own experience, but yes, I think we do need to go to India or to Cairo or to wherever in order to find the treasure box whether it’s in ourselves or in our traditions or in our families or in our stories that is here all along.

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, maybe we also just need the spirit of adventure and willingness to take risks and not freak out when we’re traveling sometimes. I mean, I think about experiences in India. They weren’t really dangerous, but they were certainly frustrating, that I wouldn’t tolerate for a moment here, like getting on a train and traveling all night and waking up in the same place where we started from because there was like a cow on the track or something like that. They couldn’t figure out how to go around it, so they went back and I think I’ve been on this train for seventeen hours and I’m back in New Delhi! But there’s something about being traveling. It’s got a certain mystique or an aura when you’re doing it in that spirit.

You think, “Okay, this is an adventure.” Maybe there’s a reason—I don’t know what it was—but maybe there’s a reason I’m back where I started seventeen hours later. And because when I’m thinking that was actually one of the times I had met—years ago, which I’ve told you about before, where you had a very strong influence on me—was when we were each speaking at this conference at the National Cathedral and you were talking about your experience with Women for Women International and meeting women and these terrible war-torn circumstances and coming back and trying to fundraise and help people see, “This is very important that we make this kind of connection,” and you were telling the story often of a woman I think maybe from Afghanistan who was . . . It was a bad story. It was really hard to hear.

And then you said in this presentation, “But what I realized was that I often forget to talk about her accomplishments. I forget to say she was an attorney. I forget to say there was this brightness in her, and maybe compassion has to be that and not just focusing on what’s wrong and what’s fragmented and what seems broken,” and that had such a profound influence on me to this day where I, of course, often talk about how difficult it is for us to face suffering and acknowledge it and I also talk about, sometimes, it’s really hard to take in the joy. We feel guilty. We feel it’s not right or maybe I’m doing something wrong by doing that and yet how do we keep going? How do we replenish if we are never allowing ourselves to delight in someone’s accomplishments or look at that sunset or whatever it might be?

So, I didn’t have to go to Baghdad or India to hear you say that. That actually wasn’t much of a journey, relatively speaking, but I needed, as we do need to, have a certain spirit in listening and that seems to me really important.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Beautifully said, I mean, and I appreciate what you’re saying. Beside, thank you. I’m glad I had this impact and I appreciate it, but I also appreciate what you’re saying that because travels is a privilege and these days, we can’t travel, but the travel does not mean physical travel. It means go and put yourself in another situation where you can actively hear to other perspectives and other dialogues and other inputs. I really do appreciate that interpretation of travels, if you may, in so many different ways. It’s interesting you bring that about my experience with Women for Women because it’s true. I mean, I went at it with this humanitarian who was taking life very, very seriously, and did feel guilty about all the privileges I had in America, including at one point, I would cry when I shower because there’s so much water and people don’t have water in the countries I was working in. And over time . . .

So one thing that I have not figured out is the concept of love, and you are, as far as I know and as far as many, many, many people know, the teacher on love, and I have so many questions about that starting with, what is love for you? And from there is, really, it has been a struggle that as I find love or the different interpretations of love in myself, right? It is so hard for me to then go, and of course, be loving to the people I worked with in Afghanistan or in Congo, but tell them, “It’s okay. It is all love.” I mean, there’s so much I want to ask actually of you and within that aspect is, is . . . but let’s start with the idea of what is love. Just what is love, as far as you know, and as far as you believe?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, that’s really a great question. I’m actually trying to express that right now in writing. I think, “What is it anyway?” Sometimes, I talk about love just as connection. You know, profound, knowing our lives have something to do with one another, and that also takes it away from an emotion because there’s an emotion, I think—first of all, it’s too limited. We think we don’t have love when we don’t have a particular, very narrow band of emotional response, but maybe love in some situations is just inclusion. It’s listening. I would often tell the story about . . . Now, it’s not so relevant post-pandemic or mid-pandemic, wherever we are, but I grew up in New York City and so one of those minor but very real cultural influences was you don’t talk to anybody in the elevator of your building. It’s just . . . If somebody talks to you, it’s like, “What do you want?” It’s a little weird, so I have that, and so as an adult back in New York City, I’d be in the elevator and somebody would say something to me, and I would have just that kind of visceral reaction, and then maybe I would think, “Maybe they have no one else to talk to.” Like what’s it going to cost you to have a conversation about their dog’s sweater or whatever it is, something you’re not profoundly interested in? But just be there and be there fully, not begrudgingly. Just be there.

And that’s not highly emotional at all, but it’s a quality of presence that I think is actually love. It’s that gift of our presence that is unstinting. Sometimes it is, of course, emotional and that’s the warmth that we crave and often identify as the singular face of love, although I think it has many, many faces. So, connection. And then I was just thinking earlier today that maybe one way of describing it is that sense of belonging, that we all belong to life. Probably my favorite passage is from Rilke who said something like, “Do not be frightened if a great sadness greater than you’ve ever known before rises up in front of you. Life has not forgotten you,” and that sense of having been abandoned by life and then re-weaving that sense of connection I think is the path to liberation for many of us.

So, we still belong. It’s like saying, “I still have worth of some kind.” Sometimes we want to actively be seen, and sometimes we would like to be a little quieter in the corner, but we want that sense of belonging, and being able to confer that on somebody whoever they are I think really is the gift of love.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

How did you find it and how did you find that experience in yourself? And I ask because I . . . At one point in my life when I came to America in an arranged marriage that my mom set up for me, I felt very betrayed by her and I couldn’t trust love. It was [a] really long time for me. It took me [a] very, very long time to trust love because immediately for me, love for the longest time meant . . . The opposite of it would be abandonment, and if I am to be extremely honest, and it’s been a gradual experience where I’ve only recently to fully arrive to being comfortable with love. How did you arrive at that comfort and that realization?

Sharon Salzberg:

I mean, I think there was a kind of inner knowing that I had—that’s what drove me to India—and then my first meditation teacher was a Burmese man named S. N. Goenka, and he taught basically what we would call a mindfulness course. Until the very last day, probably the last half hour of the course, he taught this practice called lovingkindness meditation, and as soon as I heard it, I thought, “Oh, listen to that.” So, something in me knew. It knew it was what I needed, that in some ways I had been lacking because it just hadn’t been around me, and I mean, it had been around me in other ways for sure, but my life was so ragged with all the changes that it wasn’t something I could trust, as you said, and then basically somebody once asked me—we were talking about a teacher of mine who was a woman named Dipa Ma, and I was being interviewed for something and the interviewer said in a very shy, tentative way like it’s okay if I ask this question, like do you think you re-parented yourself with her?

And I said, “I re-parented myself with all of them.” I had the major blessing of having people in my life who were really on my side, that they were as you disclose how your mother was for you, and I felt like, “Oh, these people have no ulterior motives. They’re not trying to manipulate me in some way. They really just want to see me be happier.” So, it became the evolution of becoming an adult. I was eighteen and a little bit after that too and so that was a major source . . . And then a community of people. I have so many of my great friends I met January of 1971. It’s just so shocking to me still, really, and it’s been a lifetime of exploration together and needless to say, we’ve each gone through a lot of things in that period of time and lots of ups and downs, but it’s very real. Things like that. And then I think teaching is the greatest privilege of my life because people really unmask and they are willing to be vulnerable and you just hear . . .

I’ve been writing about the state of awe and most of the studies around awe—the research is like sending people into the forest and looking at these giant trees and you go, “Whoa. That’s really awesome,” and then I was reading this passage from Gregory Boyle who works with gang kids in LA, and he’s written several books, most famously Tattoos on the Heart, and he talked about the awe he feels as I’m sure you would say yourself hearing what these people go through and what they have survived and survived in some interesting way, too. Maybe they’re taking care of a sibling and it is awesome what people are capable of, and I think I’ve seen that so many times in teaching that it’s really opened a door for me to see, “Oh, look at that!” As miserable as we can be to one another and that is absolutely true, but there’s also this. You know, how great is this?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Beautiful. So, the awe comes from, like stay curious, stay . . . I call it stay in the innocence because then you see the best and you get excited at a sunrise or a sunset or instead of seeing only a woman for her being a victim, you see also how she dances beautifully or how she smiles beautifully and you just don’t stay in one narrow narrative about life, but you really keep on looking at it from a different perspective. Am I getting this right?

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah, no. I think that’s absolutely true and you’re reminding me of my teacher Dipi Ma who would be my main example and also some other people that I’ve met along the way. Dipi Ma was a Bengali woman. She was . . . Dipi Ma, of course, is a nickname for “Dipi’s mother.” She was put into an arranged marriage when she was twelve, and unusually she and her husband fell deeply in love and then they didn’t have children for quite a number of years, and they had three children, two of them died. And she and her husband were living in Burma. He was in the civil service and they had Dipa, the surviving daughter, and her husband came home late one afternoon. He wasn’t feeling that well, and he died very suddenly by that night, and so she was completely overcome by grief and developed this heart condition. She couldn’t get out of bed and her doctor came and said, “You’re actually going to die of a broken heart unless you learn to do something about your mind. You should learn how to meditate,” and she did.

She got out of bed and they say that when she went to the temple, the meditation hall was up this flight of stairs and she was so weak she couldn’t even walk. She had to crawl up the stairs to get to the meditation hall, and when she emerged from that retreat, something had transformed within her so that that tremendous sorrow became the foundation for tremendous compassion. She left. She raised her child. She became this great teacher and I started with all kinds of different people and I never once saw her rejecting . . . I mean, she could be sharp and clear about what she thought was wrong, but I never saw her reject anybody because it’s almost like she knew. This is life. It can change in a moment for anybody. This is how it is and she was so delightful. And I kept looking at her—and this is why you made me think of her—and thinking she’s not really self-preoccupied. Like if you’d visit her in Calcutta, which is where she came to live, she really wanted to know how was your journey, do you have enough tea, would you like more tea? Can I get you a cookie? I thought if I’d been through what she’d been through, I don’t know if I care about anyone else’s tea. I’m not sure I’d have that much interest to anyone else’s goings-on. But that was it, and other people, Tibetan women I’ve met who’ve been through just hideous, terrible things and they really do care if you have enough tea. There’s some kind of massive self-preoccupation that they have managed not to fall into. And it is easy to fall into it, the bitterness and just the enclosed-in kind of reaction to real sorrow and tremendous difficulty and I just look at the people who have not fallen into that and marvel. That is awesome.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s beautiful. I mean, I feel like you have a choice really. You either become bitter because this happened to you and that’s when you do die, and honestly, I do have friends who did die in their bitterness and it was a tough life, but they died in bitter, and I think then the other choice is to do what your friend has done. It’s sort of, process it. Talk about my mom. She had a tough life. Again, she pushed me out to marriage, not out of meanness at all, out of actually absolute love to save me, and she got ALS and she was very ill and I saw her handling all of her life, Sharon, with such grace as she was dying, such beautiful grace. She knitted a blanket and she was asking for forgiveness as for everything in her life between her and she forgave herself. She forgave everyone around her. She loved everyone around her and it’s just like, but that’s a choice I feel we each make.

Am I going to go in the path of bitterness or am I going to go into the path of love? It is interesting, your friend’s story. My question is not related per se to that, but I’m always wondering, Sharon, about romantic love and its role in our lives. Let’s say in my life because there’s a part of me that is very spiritual and is a seeker and there’s a part of me that actually likes things in this material world. I like love and food and clothes and all of that, and I often wonder if romantic love gets in the way of the spiritual path. Because the point of ecstasy, the point of nirvana in spirituality, the point of awe that comes out of meditation and out of that has happened in that space, not in the . . . It’s different in the romantic love. Do they conflict? Do we have to choose or can they come together and be weaved together?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, now I’m thinking about . . . I wrote a book some years ago called Real Love, and when it was still a proposal and it was moving about, there was one publisher who said something like that, that space is overdone. It’s overdone, and I realized that they were equating love with romantic relationship, like how to find a relationship, how to keep a relationship, how to end a relationship. Maybe those books were highly done, but not really what I was talking about. So, no—I think they can come together, but I think we have to lose a lot of delusion in that process because when we think of love, we think of infatuation. We think of not being able to live without the other, if you think about music, pop songs, and so on. As one of my friends says, “I need you. I want you. I have to have you,” and it’s hard to loosen the grip of that delusion and, “You will give me everything and you will make it okay and you will never change and you . . .” Then love becomes like a commodity and that was one of the things that I really struggled a lot with trying to express.

There’s a line in this movie called Dan in Real Life, written and directed by Peter Hedges, and Peter wrote, “Love is not a feeling. It’s an ability,” and as soon as I heard that in the film, I thought, “It’s totally resonant with everything I’ve come to believe and understand,” because if love is a feeling . . . Of course, it is a feeling as well, but if it’s only a feeling, both it is narrow and it’s also like a commodity, and I get this image often of the UPS delivery person standing at my doorstep with this package of love and then looking down at the address and thinking that “Wrong address,” and going somewhere else, and then I go, “Wait!” Then there’s no love in my life. So, it’s completely in the hands of another to bestow upon us or to take away, and that’s just wrong.

If it’s an ability, it’s within us and other people may ignite it or awaken it or threaten it, but ultimately it’s ours. We are not dependent on the behavior of another, in fact. And that’s real power, and I think that’s real love too.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

And that is real love. Yes. Yeah, no. I would agree. How do you experience self-love? I mean, because honestly, up until a few years ago, when someone told me that you have to love yourself—like I do, I get myself massages and manicure and pedicure. I mean, I do that and it really took me a long time to realize this has nothing to do with self-love. It’s such an internal process that massages is like physical love maybe, just to get your body in shape or helped, but it has nothing to do with the meaning of self-love. What is self-love for you and how do you experience it in yourself?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, I think it starts actually for many of us with what we might call or what Western psychology calls self-compassion, actually these days. And that’s different than self-esteem, and self-esteem is good too because maybe we don’t give a lot of air time to the things we’ve done well, to the small triumphs. You’re trying to make a change and it’s step by step, and we need to rejoice some in that instead of only thinking, “Oh, I went fifteen minutes over in the presentation and I’m a failure and I’m terrible,” and going over and over and over that only. So, spending some time and rejoicing in the good is not selfish and it’s not conceited. It’s actually a very good thing, but self-compassion is different. Self-compassion is when you have blown it and you’ve fallen down and you haven’t lived up to some expectation, your own or someone else’s, and how do you then go on? Do you stay there on the ground chastising yourself? You know, “You’re so clumsy. You’re always falling. You can’t do anything right. Why can’t you do anything right?”

Usually, that’s what we do, actually, and it can take a good long time and so at the end of that, not only have we spent maybe a considerable period of time not going forward again, but we haven’t really learned anything because we’re just blaming ourselves wildly and we’re demoralized. We’re exhausted. We’re so tired that we can’t so easily pick ourselves up and go forward. So, I really began to see the relationship between self-compassion and resilience. People often will say to me, “Well, self-compassion is just being lazy. It’s not having any standards of excellence. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, I’ll forgive myself for making this mistake and I’ll make another one in ten seconds. It doesn’t matter. I’ll forgive myself again,’” but I really don’t think it’s like that.

I think that we lose so much more. We’re so drained of effectiveness by all of that constant self-blame. It just drags us down and so maybe we have to look at lessons to be learned or maybe we have to look at ways to make amends, but it’s not that sort of endless, just putting yourself down. And so that’s where I really began, and it began with finding that really—it wasn’t hard to see actually, or hear—that very critical, nasty kind of voice inside me and developing a different relationship to it. So, first of all, not believing it, like, “You’re so right. I’m worthless,” but also not declaring at the enemy like, “I can’t believe you’re still here. I’ve been meditating for ten days. I’ve been meditating for two years. I’ve meditated for four years, you’re still here”—now I can say fifty years—and that’s really the key to in a way what mindfulness has helped me do.

So, a teaching I often do is I say if you find that really pervasive, critical, useless, just like demeaning voice inside yourself, give it a name or give it a wardrobe. Give it a personality because then you can play with the relationship you have to that voice. So, I go on to say that I’ve named my own inner critic Lucy—which apologies to any Lucy who’s listening—based on the character in the Peanuts comic strip because a friend of ours once rented a house for several of us to move into and do a retreat in and when I moved into the bedroom that I was just going to take, I saw someone had left a cartoon on the desk from the Peanuts comic strip, and in the first frame of the cartoon, it’s Lucy and Charlie Brown, and Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “You know, Charlie Brown, what your problem is, the problem with you is that you’re you.”

And then in the second frame, poor Charlie Brown says, “Well, what in the world can I do about that?” And then Lucy says, “I don’t pretend to be able to give advice. I merely point out the problem.” And somehow whenever I was walking by that desk, my eye would fall right on that line, “Problem with you is that you’re you.” Like if you really knew who you were, it would be really bad news. Because that Lucy voice had been so dominant in my earlier life, but at this point, I’ve been meditating for some years and I’ve worked with mindfulness and one facet of mindfulness, which is an optional technique is mental noting. It’s just placing a label on your experience that’s predominant and so something happened very soon after I saw the cartoon which just illustrated it so well. Something great happened for me and my very next thought was, “It’s never going to happen again,” and I saw the thought and I said, “Hi Lucy,” and my favorite form of it was, “Chill out, Lucy.”

So, it’s different than, “You’re right, Lucy. You’re always right,” and it’s also different than, “I cannot believe I’ve been meditating. I’ve been to therapy. I’ve tried all these things, and Lucy’s still here and it’s the most . . .” It’s just like, “Chill, Lucky. I see you. You can have a seat. Just relax. Have a cup of tea,” and that is meeting—it’s like the guest house. It’s meeting an adversity or meeting a challenge with presence and balance and with even tenderness, like poor Lucy, you know? Who’s happy to see you ever? That became really the way that I could appreciate starting with the most difficult states, that I could have compassion for myself and it is what’s onward leading and makes for real change.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I love that story. I love it, and thank you for sharing it. My other characters . . . Well, one of them is a cave woman, I call her, because when I first saw her, she was like a cave woman with a bushy hair and scared with holding the . . . Whatever, a bone, like defending herself in case anybody’s going to come and hurt her and it’s really helped me see her and give her . . . Just to see her, because she behaved like that, always scared, and over time the way I imagine her now is that I comb her hair. I bathe her. I gave her very nice clothes and she is very part of me right now. She’s co-existing with me, calmer, much calmer. It helped a lot to see her and I know I saw her I think through the eyes of friends and people around me and as well as through the times where she came out and I did not realize why am I so scared? There’s nothing to be so scared. Why I am so overly defensive? So, it helped over time to see her through my eyes, through the eyes of others also, and to name her and to love her, ultimately to love her, and that’s when she, I think, integrated inside of me.

Now, you speak also about loving our enemies and I . . . It’s interesting because I actually believe that, right? But I think it’s also very, very hard and when I mention it in the past, like over dinner tables, I was like, “We need to even learn how to love our enemies, particularly in this moment of history, of division and schism and all of that,” and everyone, it’s like almost everyone in my life, they’re like, “It’s too much. Don’t go there. That’s more like Jesus’s kind of thing. Don’t go there. We cannot love our enemy.” And there are experiences in which I’ve heard of people loving the enemy, if you may, and they were different experiences. I mean, I can tell you one story.

There’s actually one study in Imperial College where they do a study between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian activists in one room, but in that study, it was a psychedelic study. So, they administered psychedelics on them and eventually what they talk about in that study is how they first sat in the separate part of the room, not wanting to talk to each other, and eventually in the middle of the experience, they start listening to the other sounds in a way that is not hating, but they’re like, “Oh, they’re making these songs and we always thought it’s the enemy’s songs, but the way they’re singing it, it’s so beautiful and it’s . . . Wow, it’s heartfelt and we had no idea it could be heard like that,” and anyway, the study obviously is complicated, but the end of the study is they start having a dialogue and they start reflecting on themselves, owning their things, each side, and then both sides are shaping a new narrative of their story.

That’s an interesting story of loving your enemy, but that help came with the help of psychedelics. I have loved what I perceive to be “the other” or the enemy because I saw changes in themselves, in that one person, and the remorse and the ability to actually correct in that case, his action—has nothing to do with me—his shadow, his work. How do you do it? I mean, if you don’t use psychedelics and if the person is not correcting their work, which means that they have done some self-reflection, how do you love your enemy?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, I think some of it comes . . . Well, first of all, it can’t be compulsory. You know what I mean? That’s just crazy-making. If you feel coerced, it’s just hopeless and it’s not worth it. I think honestly for many people, some of it is a time thing. Sometimes your job is just to survive, or grieve. It’s not the time to even be thinking about that. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the kind of person who wants there to be no love at all in the life of this person who’s harmed you, but maybe it’s someone else’s job.

That’s how we used to think of ministry of different faiths, like maybe they can bestow some love on this person, but I can’t because I’m too . . . That seems very reasonable to me, but I think it also, if you’re up for it, if you’re inspired by the notion—or not even inspired, but you just want to take a few more steps into it—it depends on what you mean by love to understand that you can love somebody and fight them, their agenda, and do everything you can to try to see them not succeed or do it again or keep doing whatever it is that’s so harmful and that’s not something that’s easy to understand, but I think it’s also very true that we can wish for somebody to come out of their delusion, and at the same time, we’re not sitting down and just saying, “Oh, whatever.” It’s not like that.

So, that’s an important understanding, and then if you go back to what I was saying about love is connection or realizing that our lives are connected, it doesn’t mean we like somebody. It doesn’t mean we want to see them get ahead or continue on doing what they’re doing, but it’s a fundamental belief in a few things. I think one is that we all do have potential to be . . . I mean, some traditions would say Divine. Others would say to be realized, to live a life of love and compassion and wisdom. We all have that potential and to see what some people do with this life, this precious life. It becomes all about domination or cruelty or fear and you think it’s a degradation of one’s own potential and there’s almost a compassion, like I wish it could have been other for you, and in that way, we also reclaim whatever part of ourselves has been taken by this person’s actions and we become more whole.

But I was once teaching . . . I don’t know how it happened, but there must have been fifteen presenters up on the stage all at once in this church in Berkeley at this event and there was a Tibetan lama who’d just gotten off the plane from Tibet. There’s all kinds of people and somebody asked this really interesting question. They said, basically he said, “I really believe that when I act wrongly and I cause harm, it’s coming from a place of pain within me.” He said, “But I look at some of these people on the world stage and they don’t look like they’re in pain. They look pretty self-satisfied.” And he said, “I have an awfully hard time responding with any kind of compassion.” And what was so interesting is there were so many of us on the stage and there was a complete silence because no one wanted to answer, and finally, I said, “I am with you. I often look at some people and I think if I could only fray a little bit around the edges, it would be easier than to see them all puffed up.” And I said, “But I really do believe that that when I act wrongly, it’s coming from a place of pain,” and I do believe that about them as well. I really do.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I do too.

Sharon Salzberg:

And to think that this life, which is so fleeting anyway and that this is what you’re going to do? And end with? Like whoa. Then I have students in loving kindness meditation in that form. We silently recite certain phrases like, “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be peaceful,” and also including ourselves and I’ve had students who’ve said, “With my mother, with this person, the most I can bring myself to say is, ‘May you be free of hatred.’” I say, “If that’s what you can say, then that’s what you should say. You shouldn’t do anything other than that. That is the gift you wish actually this person could receive.”

Zainab Salbi (Host):

It’s interesting because I actually really do agree with all what you’re saying and it’s based on the assumption that humanity is good and yet Reb Zalman Schachter says that, “There is more good than evil in the world, but not by much, but not by much.” Where does that quote take you and how do you respond to it?

Sharon Salzberg:

It sounds very Jewish to me and very Reb Zalman, actually. [both laugh] I think, yeah, I mean, when you talk about basic goodness, or you think “Where?” Like you don’t see what I see, I guess, and I think that’s tremendous to admit that, to recognize that, but the fact that we can go on and the fact that we can have compassion for ourselves and for others, the fact that we can have wisdom means that the other side is really there. It’s coming from somewhere and I just think what a compromise people make for their lives and these small, even mean lives, and what’s hard for us is that they’re perhaps in a position of power and that’s the work too. That’s the work in the world is to not have those people be all-powerful and making decisions about the lives of others and in that kind of way. But if we’re coming from a place of hatred, it seems so consuming, doesn’t it? It’s like all that time and all that energy.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I mean, definitely, I agree about hatred is consuming, and it’s a balancing act between letting go of that hatred for sure, because it’s about me. Letting go of the hatred and the anger is truly about me, not even about them, and between being at peace with that and still hold the others accountable for the wrong that has been done, whatever that wrong is. Truly, it’s almost like holding water in a tray so that I am not in hate. I am in love and you are accountable for the acts that you have done, and it’s a dance that we have to do it, and I think it’s a very important dance because if we don’t do that and if we lead the change via hate or via anger as our core tool, we risk becoming what we’re fighting against. I really do believe that. I saw it in myself that I was this close to becoming what I was fighting against.

Sharon, you alluded to you’ve been meditating for fifty years now, you’re about in your late sixties or something, yes?

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

How has aging impacted your understanding of spirituality or love or life itself?

Sharon Salzberg:

Unfortunately, I’m not mature enough to consider myself . . . I mean, I do think about that all the time because I find it ludicrous. I’m sixty-nine. I turned sixty-nine in August and I don’t feel that. I mean, sometimes I’m really tired, but I did meet so many significant people in my life when I was eighteen and every once in a while, Joseph or somebody, Krishna Das or somebody will look at me and say, “How old are you now? Because you were always like the youngest.” I still am, but it’s not that young and I just find it remarkable. Every once in a while I think I should think more seriously about this, but I don’t have that internal sense.

I mean, there’s a lot. There were things I thought I would do and I once did a course. I was attending a retreat for about aging and meditation and I think I was the youngest person there at sixty or something, and I said in this small group meeting that there are things I thought I might do in life like go to journalism school or learn Spanish or things like that, and now I realize it’s not going to happen. It’s just not going to happen. And there was a woman, she must have been at least seventy-five, in the group and she was about to go on a trip to Tibet and she really soundly chastised me like, “What do you mean it’s not going to happen? Why do you think that these doors are closed?” It’s like, “Oh, okay.” But I really think it’s not going to happen and so that’s the predominant feeling I have. Will I get back to India? Well, now, of course, it’s so difficult to say. It’s so complicated, but I always thought I would and now I’m thinking, “Were I to get back, is it one more time? Is that really what we’re looking at?” It’s friends turning a lot older than I, and I find it very dreamlike in a lot of ways.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

So, other than time, the soul stays actually the same, and time provides body—I mean, like body gets impacted by time or the ability to travel or not—but the soul is the soul of whether you are at seventy years old or fifty years old or thirty years old the soul stays—

Sharon Salzberg:

And getting sick and I realized what a difference it is to get sick and think, “Well, I’ve got to endure this maybe for half a year and I’ll do these things and I’ll get better,” and thinking, “This is it. This is not going to get better. This is like a one-way,” except for I haven’t had that experience, but it’s coming. It’s the nature of things. So, yeah, I mean, I’m not fully comprehended by any means, so I know I need to sit down and really reflect, like I do feel that.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Or maybe not.

Sharon Salzberg:

Or maybe not, yeah.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Or maybe not. Exactly. What . . . Final questions, rapid questions. I know I’ve taken a lot of your time and it’s just I can go on and on honestly, you know?

Sharon Salzberg:

Oh, I know. It’s wonderful talking to you. We should go shopping together sometimes. I gleaned that from this interview, too. You must be a great shopper.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I do like clothes, but I mean, also, I’m environmentally conscious and I do believe that in minimalism, like for me, it’s not getting there. It’s incorporating it as a discipline in everyday life and every day. It’s not that when I meditate, I’m in a beautiful state. It’s coming to the city and I get excited about things. I was like, “You don’t need any of these things.” Remember, the joy you had in simply meditating was amazing. You don’t need these things. So, it’s like a constant trial-and-error, let’s say. It’s not even a battle. It’s just a trial-and-error, actually, of just trying to keep myself in center in this world.

So, a couple of few questions. What piece of music do you love and you always go to for whatever feelings you want to ignite?

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, I mentioned Krishna Das, who’s a friend of mine, who’s at my first retreat as well. He does Hindu devotional chanting and he’s really my go-to person. It’s those ancient chants, but in his Long Island accent because that’s what he has, and it is a sound. It’s like I know people who listen to him when they’re undergoing chemo, when they have the joyous delight of a new birth. I mean, it’s just a sound that’s really timeless and for me as well.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Beautiful. A movie that you constantly go and watch. Do you have that movie?

Sharon Salzberg:

Do I have a movie?

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Do you have a movie that . . . I have couple of movies that every now and then I go and rewatch them again and again for . . . to trigger again either sometimes I want to cry or sometimes I want to laugh or sometimes I want to be inspired.

Sharon Salzberg:

Okay. Well, my main . . . I don’t know if obsession may be the right word actually around something like that came from the musical Hamilton, which I saw in the theater nine times and is now available as a . . . They shot the original Broadway cast and so it’s available on Disney+. It’s a streaming service and I saw Hamilton when I was working on Real Love, on the book actually, and I was in a very stuck place and feeling very discouraged and it’s also . . . It’s my tenth book and I kept thinking, “No one cares what you have to say anymore. You have nothing new to say. Just turn in the damn book.” And it was just that this friend of mine was coming through New York City and he said, “Would you like to go see a show?” I had just a Vegas notion about Hamilton. I didn’t know how hard it was to get tickets or anything, and they said, “Let’s go see Hamilton.”

So, he managed to get tickets and Lin Manuel Miranda who had wrote it was still in it, still performing as Alexander Hamilton, and I kept staring at him on the stage thinking, “You wrote this. This came out of your brain?” Then I thought you can never compromise like that. You can never do something half-heartedly. You can never do . . . Just turn something in. You have to put everything you do and everything you have into everything you do and so that became . . . My friend who brought me . . . It’s very funny. I was just writing about this as well. He said . . . “And then I said to you, ‘Would like you to go to dinner,’ and you had this really funny look on your face and you said, ‘I have to go home and write!’” So, Hamilton has become my go-to reminder of that very thing.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Brilliant. Thank you. Sometimes I get impatient with my own writings. I’m just like, “Okay, let’s just give it like this,” and thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I needed to hear that. A piece of poetry or a poet that you often go to.

Sharon Salzberg:

Naomi Shihab Nye who wrote . . . She’s most famous for “Kindness” and that is the poem that I go to a lot where she wrote this poem based on experiences on her honeymoon, and the most quoted lines are probably “Kindness is the deepest thing inside. You must know sorrow is the other deepest thing.” And several others of her poems, but especially that one.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That’s beautiful. That is beautiful. And last but not least, and this is really me thanking you because unlike many other teachers, and I’m not saying everyone, but you really, I really feel like you have gotten out of your way to reach out to people who are in the social work and are trying to make a difference and I am touched by that personally as this is part of my community. I know you reached out to many of them and it means a lot and because it’s an ignored community. People who work in the social justice or social work or all of that are taken for granted, I would say. You work really hard. You get paid very little and there’s very little support around you and it’s people expect you to just do it and people do it because they’re passionate about it. And you went out of your way to reach out and to be [a] support and to be a loving support for many, many of them and I am so grateful personally for that, and that includes me, but it also includes friends that I know and I know that you mean a lot to them for reaching out. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for that.

And on that note, what do you think we need to do right now, like if there’s one calling you have? I know you’re writing a book. I don’t know what the book is about. I don’t know if you can share that, but we’re in such a pivotal moment in time. We’re in a turning point and as a collective, as humanity. If I am [to] say, what is your calling for all of us, Sharon? What would that be?

Sharon Salzberg:

I think it actually . . . and thank you so much for saying that. It is a vitally important community in my own life and it means a lot to me that you said that, and I think back to the last book I wrote, which was called Real Change, which just came out of paperback the other day because it came out in the middle of the pandemic, which was so odd and—

Zainab Salbi (Host):

Divine intervention.

Sharon Salzberg:

Yeah. And there were chapters in that book, which was all written before the pandemic, like moving from anger to courage, moving from grief to resilience, and finally, equanimity, having some balance, exactly the balance you were talking about earlier, and I’m amazed that in ordinary times and these more extreme times, it’s still all so relevant, and I think about the earliest days of the pandemic here in the States where there was so much more of a sense of “We’re all in this together,” and that quickly dissolved into the people who had to go to work and the people who were staying home and then the resentment and the . . . I mean, it’s just so much that has fallen apart from there, and I would just like us to really . . . If it’s one by one, even come together in some way, and be able to listen to that song of the other because I really still believe we can make this a better world, and that the inner work we do and the outer work are really seamless and that they really influence one another. I haven’t lost some . . . I don’t know if you’d call it hope or idealism or faith or belief that things can look a lot better than they do because they don’t look very good, and we can really do that if we learn how to come together.

Zainab Salbi (Host):

I couldn’t agree with you more and I believe, I really believe . . . I don’t know how long would it take us because I don’t believe too many people are in that boat. I mean, there’s perhaps many people talking, “Yeah, we need to get together,” but it’s action like love. It’s not this feeling. It’s an action and it takes both sides to be willing to lower that wall of defense and listen and hear the other’s song. It’s so true. It is so true.

You are a gift truly. You have been a gift for me today and many, many years, over the years, and I really appreciate it, but I think also beyond that, you’re a gift to the world, and when I was meditating just before I came to do this interview, which made me late to this interview, which I apologize for, but I meditate before every interview I do and it’s just my ritual, my practice, and I wait for whatever comes from that place of silence, and what came today is that you embody love. Really, you embody love for all, so thank you for being you.

Sharon Salzberg:

Well, thank you so much. It’s wonderful to get to connect to you.

[closing piano music]

Zainab Salbi (Host):

That was Sharon Salzberg. You can learn more about Sharon’s work, her books, and her podcast, The Metta Hour, at www.sharonsalzberg.com. Remember to subscribe for free to the Redefined podcast with me, Zainab Salbi. For transcripts and other resources from this episode, please go to www.findcenter.com/redefined. You can follow FindCenter on Instagram for inspirational content on personal development and growth @find_center. And you can follow me if you want @ZainabSalbi. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back next week for another conversation about life’s turning points and lessons learned. My guest will be actress and writer Maria Bello. Redefined is produced by me, Zainab Salbi, along with Rob Corso, Casey Kahn, and Howie Kahn at FreeTime Media. Our music is by John Palmer. Special thanks to Neal Goldman, Caroline Pincus, and Sherra Johnston. Looking forward to seeing you next time.