Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 155 – Mark Nepo

For episode 155 of the Metta Hour, Sharon speaks with Mark Nepo. Mark is an author, poet, and spiritual teacher with over 40 years of teaching experience.

Mark Nepo has published twenty-two books, including the New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening, and his most recent release from 2020, The Book of Soul.

In this episode, Mark shared his personal journey that brought him to the spiritual path and writing. They discuss the coronavirus through stages of grief, and how the different stages of denial, anger, bartering, depression, and acceptance are reflective of different aspects of the collective. They talk about loss and grief as a process of destruction and reconstruction and how to honor each aspect of that process. They also discuss of the importance of meaning in mental health and in life in general. Mark offers some ideas for how to recover meaning for ourselves when we have lost it. He shares how we can individually and collectively determine what needs repair, what needs reimagining, and what needs to be left dismantled now that it’s been broken. Sharon asks Mark how he counsels people who are grappling with feelings of failure and brokenness, and how we can embrace the entirety of our experience. The episode closes with Mark reading a poem and offering a short reflective journaling prompt.

Find poetry and online offerings from Mark at
Student of All Paths

Welcoming spiritual author and poet, Mark Nepo, Sharon invites him to share what catalysts sparked him onto the path of sharing such transformative, heartfelt wisdom with the world. Recounting a journey of near-death experiences with cancer, Mark describes how he underwent an ‘apprenticeship in dealing with fear and pain,’ but how the love, help, and kindness he received from people from all traditions and walks of life inspired him to become a ‘student of all paths.’

“I felt I was being called to be a student of all paths. All my work, all my books, all my chances to be with folks and enter teaching spaces ever since has been centered on a belief in my heart, in a common center to all paths, and in the unique gifts of each.” – Mark Nepo

For Mark Nepo on the power of community and taking guidance from our true nature instead of our fear, tune into Ep. 77 of the Indie Spiritualist
Head Melting Into Heart (11:32)

Exploring the life-changing catalyst of his cancer journey, Mark shares with Sharon the twisting inner process he underwent through the volatile ups-and-downs of his diagnosis, miracles, near-death experiences, and spiritual lessons. From this perspective, Mark illuminates the journey he went on from way up in the high peaks of his mind, melting down to the solid, fertile ground of his open heart.

“I always believed in a heartfelt view of life and the world, but before my cancer journey I was in my head about it. Not through any wisdom on my part, but being thrown upside-down and inside-out, I woke on the other side and my head has always served my heart since. It was like everything that was in my head melted like snow into the ground of my heart.” – Mark Nepo

Tap into a transformative guided breathing meditation for helping one move from the head into the heart, on Ep. 123 of Heart Wisdom
Grief, Purpose, & Meaning (26:06)

Speaking to the deeper inquiries of life, Sharon and Mark explore the questions of grief, purpose, and meaning in our human existence. Mark explains how instead of ‘being driven’ like he used to be, he is now ‘drawn towards things,’ like a planted seed naturally growing towards the light of the sun.

“When I was driven, there was some kind of end game, goal, or imagined or dreamt arrival point. Almost dying blew all that up. Purpose is more like the way everything in nature grows out of the ground, and meaning is that experience of being an embodied life.” – Mark Nepo

Read on life, death, purpose, and meaning, on What Death Teaches About Life: An Interview with Frank Ostaseski from the Awakened Heart Blog