For episode 152 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Dani Shapiro.
Dani is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir, Inheritance, published in January 2019 by Knopf. Her other books include the memoirs “Hourglass,” “Still Writing,” “Devotion,” and “Slow Motion,” and five novels. She is also the host of her own podcast, Family Secrets. Dani teaches writing workshops worldwide, has taught at Columbia and New York University, and is the co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy.
The conversation begins with Dani sharing how she came to writing in her early life and how her father’s tragic death shaped her path. She shares how she came to formal spiritual practice after becoming a mother and finding the meditation teachings of Sylvia Boorstein in 2007. Dani reflects on how her meditation practice has become intertwined with her writing practice and how she approaches writing as a spiritual path. They discuss how different aspects of formal meditation practice can act as a training ground for writing. Sharon reflects on some of the challenges she faces as a writer and how she has used mindfulness to work with them. Dani speaks about her what led her to start her podcast, Family Secrets, after finishing her most recent book, “Inheritance” which now has 40 episodes to date. The episode closes with Dani reading a short excerpt from her book, Inheritance.
Writing as a Spiritual Path
Welcoming Dani Shapiro to the Metta Hour, Sharon invites her to share her journey into writing as a profession and spiritual practice. Dani outlines the inner experience of choosing writing as a path, describing the permission and courage needed to believe in one’s own self, message, and language. Depicting her rebellious years marked by a fateful accident that would catalyze her second chance at writing, Dani explores how writing helped her understand both herself and the world.
“It’s easy to reverse engineer it and say that I always wanted to be a writer, but I just don’t think I knew that I could be, even though I think I always was a writer, in the sense that writers are people who need to grapple with the page in order to know or understand what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, and to make sense of the world.” – Dani Shapiro
Explore poetry as an enriching spiritual practice and path of the heart, with ‘Word Woman’ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, on Ep. 387 of Mindrolling
Meditation & Motherhood, Resistance & Devotion (15:10)
Sharing her early relationship with meditation and all things spiritual, Dani explains how her all-or-nothing attitude made it so she only scratched the surface of self-inquiry. This changed quickly; however, when Dani had a child who began asking those deep philosophical questions that only children can ask. Through the wonder of her child, Dani was inspired to go beyond her resistance to tackle the deep questions of universe and self, revolutionizing her life through synchronicity, meditation practice, & Kripalu retreats.
“When I would experience great resistance to something—and I was experience great resistance to opting into any kind of spiritual practice—always, what I would do, was to embark on a writing project that would force me inside my very resistance. Still, to this day, whenever I’m afraid of something that’s what I will do. I will begin to try to write about it and find my way in.” – Dani Shapiro
Open yourself to the deep connection between Motherhood and spirituality, on Ep. 76 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Writing & Meditation, Getting Lost & Beginning Again (28:01)
Elucidating the congruent ways in which writing and meditation play into one another, Dani shares how the baseline mechanism of getting lost and beginning again is the same for each practice. Describing how applying meditation to the world has informed and changed her relationship with every facet of life, Dani explains how she was naturally encouraged and inspired to offer these techniques and methodologies to reduce the snag factor and quiet the mind.
“[Meditation] reduces the snag factor, it reduces the inner sensors—Oh, I can’t do this…Nobody will care…It’s dumb…Somebody else will do it better—all of those voices. It really does something to quiet all those voices.” – Dani Shapiro
Learn about the practice of writing as a pathway for awakening, personal exploration, and freedom, on Ep. 31 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Source image via Dani Shapiro