Ethan rings in the New Year with old friend and colleague Sharon Salzberg, together they look at the three levels of spiritual practice that allow us to effect real change in the world.
Effort and Letting Go (Opening) – Sharon begins with a reflection on the effort and willingness to let go that is necessary in order to explore our inner realms and connect those experiences externally in our day to day lives. She looks at the tools of awareness that we are given with mindfulness practice.
“So often, in this culture, we define adventure in a very external way – like the idea of climbing a mountain or going to a foreign land. The idea of an inner adventure often seems strange, and yet there are worlds to be discovered.” – Sharon Salzberg
Setting Our Intention for the New Year (13:30) – The New Year provides space for introspection and the reassessment of our priorities. Ethan discusses the necessary role of contemplative practice if we want to set our intentions towards helping others effectively. He looks at how meditation practice also shifts our awareness and allows us to see our own thoughts with a greater level of objectivity.
“I think so many of us have this aspiration for whatever intention we set to not just be about us. One of the reasons the Buddha got so famous is that he was one of the very earliest humans who saw that if they want a reality based approach to alleviating confusion and suffering they have to start with themselves.” – Ethan Nichtern
The Three Levels of Real Change (27:00) – How can we bring the personal, interpersonal and social aspects of our contemplative practice together? Ethan explores this question and looks at what Buddhism can teach us about integrating these levels of practice to effect real change.
“In some ways, making space and time to go on a retreat is focusing on a personal level. Then you get there and there is a hundred other people and just because we are going to practice silence part of the day doesn’t mean we won’t be interacting with each other and very quickly there is an interpersonal and social dimension. How can we look at our practice path of mindfulness and awakening as happening on all of these levels?” – Ethan Nichtern
Krishna Das explores the willpower needed in order to effect real change on Ep. 65 of the Pilgrim Heart Podcast
The Return (54:30) – Sharon closes the talk with a foundational 5-minute meditation focused on gathering one’s attention and becoming more concentrated.
“When you get lost in thought, spun out in a fantasy or you fall asleep – truly don’t worry about it. The most important moment is the next moment. After you have been gone, when you have been distracted, you let go gently and you begin again. That is the practice.” – Sharon Salzberg