Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher, and NY Times bestselling author. She has played a crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture since 1974 when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, and the author of ten books including the NY Times bestseller Real Happiness, her seminal work Lovingkindness, and her upcoming release by Flatiron Books, Real Love. Renowned for her down-to-earth teaching style, Sharon offers a secular, modern approach to Buddhist teachings, making them instantly accessible. She is a regular columnist for On Being, a contributor to Huffington Post, and the host of her own podcast, The Metta Hour.
What are 3 things or experiences that bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment in life?
- Being with my goddaughter, who is now 19
- Being on a silent retreat
- Teaching meditation
What are the small things you do every day to be happy/fulfilled?
- I practice meditation every day. No matter what.
- I try to write every day.
- In airports, or other means of transportation, or walking down the streets of NYC, I practice (silently) offering phrases of lovingkindness — “May you be happy, may you be peaceful.”
People often find they don’t have enough time. How do you make time for those?
I rely on structure. I try to make commitments that are realistic and work to stick to them, like “I will sit in meditation every day for 15 minutes”. That’s 15 minutes, not 15 hours, and therefore is doable.
What health habits do you stick to no matter what?
Breathing and walking.
What’s your best relationship tip?
Remember mutuality, not as a kind of ledger, where you tick off obligations and see who is measuring up, but as a kind of remembrance of generosity and caring.
You seem to balance both happiness and success. What’s your secret to being happy and productive?
I meditate every day, and I hang out with friends. Neither has anything to do with ‘success.” And I practice gratitude.
What – in your opinion – is the best way to spread happiness and fulfillment to others?
Attention, attention, attention. Remember to treat everyone with respect and look at them instead of through them.
What is a quote you live by?
Suzuki Rosh: “Even if the sun should rise in the West, the Bodhisattva (being aspiring to enlightenment for the sake of all) has only one way.”