Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 141 – Real Change Series: Ellen Agler

For episode 141 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with friend and author, Ellen Agler.

For episode 141 of the Metta Hour, Sharon speaks with Ellen Agler.

Ellen serves as the CEO of the END Fund, a private philanthropic initiative working to see an end of the suffering caused by five neglected tropical diseases affecting 1.7 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including more than 1 billion children. The END Fund actively supports programs with dozens of partners in more than 25 countries, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. Her book, “Under the Big Tree” was released in January of 2019.

This is episode fourteen of the Real Change Podcast series. Ellen starts the conversation by sharing how COVID has impacted the END Fund. They discuss the cycles of systems change and individual change and how the two inform each other. They also discuss some of the themes from “Real Change” and how meditation practice has been essential to balance Ellen’s work in the Public Health Sector. The two share a few of the individuals who inspire them and model how to live with a lightness of being in the midst of great suffering, including Dipa Ma and H.H. the Dalai Lama. The episode finishes with three-minute breath meditation guided by Sharon to close the conversation.

The END Fund: Ending Neglected Diseases

Welcoming activist and writer, Ellen Ager, to the podcast, Sharon invites her to share about her work as the CEO for the END Fund, an organization solely focused on ending the most commonly neglected tropical diseases. END stands for Ending Neglected Diseases, which Ellen characterizes as incredibly prevalent diseases which stem from poverty conditions and poor sanitation. Through her work, she helps to bring treatment and prevention to populations and areas in need.

“The END Fund has been focusing on helping work with local partners and governments to strengthen health systems and improve access to care.” – Ellen Agler

If you enjoy this conversation, join Sharon and Ellen for another illuminating talk around meditation and coping with reality, on Ep. 91 of the Metta Hour
Working With Stress: Creating Space Through Mindfulness (7:40)

When working on fixing important issues on a large scale, how can we avoid burnout and manage our stress levels? Sharing the secret behind her–very necessary–daily stress management techniques, Ellen notes a consistent mindfulness meditation practices as the main way to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Recalling her journey along the spiritual path, Ellen explains the space-expanding intentionality behind her meditation and movement practices.

“Having an intentionality around a meditation practice, mindfulness practice, and movement-based practice has become the rock for my life; the willingness to create space and routine around self-inquiry and self-reflection.” – Ellen Agler

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? We have a brand new Toolbox for Anxiety full of techniques for dealing with stress, on our Awakened Heart Blog
Managed Ego: Humanitarian Work & Identity (20:00)

Since an unchecked ego running rampant can cause suffering for ourselves and others, one could extrapolate that it would be beneficial to have no ego–to be egoless–but can we actually ever truly rid ourselves of our ego? Through the lens of a ‘managed ego,’ Sharon and Ellen explore the nuanced balance of cultivating a healthy, ‘observed ego’ through imbibing a state of mindful witness. By relating to our internal systems in this way, we create the space to free ourselves from getting caught identifying with our work.

“There is something about mindfulness practice that helps create sustainable social activists” – Ellen Agler

Explore the principles of Sādhanā and how we can balance spiritual practice with social action and our modern lives, on Ep. 4 of Living With Reality

This is the first episode of the Real Change Podcast series. In this conversation, Joshin and Sharon discuss some of the themes from her new book, Real Change, exploring the ways that meditation practice can inform social action. They discuss working with anger, pathological altruism, finding long term resilience and joy in activism, and working to find balance. To close the conversation, Joshin leads a ten-minute meditation practice on equanimity.


Image via The END Fund