Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 168 – Real Change Anthology: Grief to Resilience

In celebration of the paperback book release of Sharon’s latest book, Real Change, in November of 2021, the Metta Hour is releasing an anthology of interviews exploring the themes from the book.

These interviews originally aired on the podcast in 2020, with Sharon speaking to various folks about the intersection of mindfulness and lovingkindness practice with social action. For Episode Two of the Real Change Anthology, the Metta Hour Podcast explores the theme of “Grief to Resilience” with interview clips featuring David DeSteno, Ellen Agler, Jack Kornfield, Jana Kiser, Sensei Joshin Byrnes, Marc Solomon, and Sebene Selassie.

Sharon hosts an 8-Day Real Change Challenge Dec 6-13th, featuring daily lessons, meditations, & calls to action. Register at
The paperback edition of Real Change is available Nov 30th: Preorder Here
Sensei Joshin Byrnes (2:36)

Our first clip is from Episode 128 of the Metta Hour, featuring Sensei Joshin Byrnes, originally aired August 11th, 2020. Joshin is a Zen priest, teacher, activist, and the founder of the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community in Vermont. Joshin maintains a core practice of bearing witness to homelessness by offering street retreats in cities around the country and has spent much of his career working for social change nonprofits in the areas of AIDS and HIV prevention, child welfare, and community-based philanthropy. In this clip, Joshin shares the way gratitude has helped him to honor both his pain, and the beauty of the world he as a means for resilience. He talks about the practice of creating beauty every day as an important perspective to maintain as someone who is witnessing the suffering of life. He also shares how appreciation for life can be a place of sustenance.

“Remember that in the midst of the suffering world, that I have this very life, this gift of a life, and this breath, and the whole world and everything in it—the sorrows, the joys—and I’m lucky to have this moment and this experience of life. From that place of gratitude, I find that I can begin to honor my own pain, not feed it so much, and to see and remember the beauty of the world that I’m in and human life.” – Sensei Joshin Byrnes

Ellen Agler (11:19)

Our next clip is from Episode 141 of the Metta Hour, featuring Ellen Agler, originally aired November 16th, 2020. 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. In this clip, Ellen and Sharon talk about some important ingredients in their own resilience, like the role models that inspire them to keep going when they feel discouraged, and the importance impractical joy in daily life.

“That’s such a magical way to live, actually the wisdom that comes from deep suffering, and that idea all of us suffer. Life is 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows, but how do you not only live in the place of sorrow with sorrow holding you down? The Dalai Lama is laughing all the time.” – Ellen Agler

Jack Kornfield (16:59)

Our next clip is from Episode 135 of the Metta Hour, featuring Jack Kornfield, originally airing September 28th, 2020. Jack trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He is one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, along with Sharon, and Joseph Goldstein, and a co-founder of Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, CA. Jack’s books have been translated into 20 languages and sold more than a million copies. In this clip, Jack speaks with Sharon about the path of the activist as the path of the warrior, navigating rough seas, and how we can use rituals to help support ourselves be witnesses to the suffering in the world instead of carrying it.

“It’s not given to us to control the outcome, but we do get to choose the seeds that we water, and we do get to focus on the value, rightness, and truth of what we do moment to moment. And that is an enormous gift—that is what we’re given.” – Jack Kornfield

Sabene Salassie (27:27)

Our next clip is from Episode 129 of the Metta Hour, featuring Sebene Selassie, originally aired August 17th, 2020. Sebene has been teaching meditation workshops, courses and retreats for over a decade and her first book, “You Belong” was released in August of 2020 by HarperOne. She has studied Buddhism for over 30 years and received a BA from McGill University in Religious and Women’s Studies and an MA from the New School where she focused on cultural studies and race. Sebene has served on the boards of New York Insight Meditation Center, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and Sacred Mountain Sangha. In this clip, Sebene talks about the role that belonging plays in how engaged we are in the world, and how our intentions can help us to find balance and resilience.

“[Belonging] is a prerequisite for any kind of social engagement and harmony, because if we are coming from a sense or idea of separation, then we’re in delusion—we’re not seeing the truth of reality. Although we’re not one, we’re not separate; and although we’re not separate, we’re not the same. We have to be able to understand that paradox.” – Sabene Salassie

Marc Solomon (35:35)

This next clip is from Episode 132 of the Metta Hour, featuring Marc Solomon, originally airing September 21st, 2020. Marc is a nationally recognized political strategist and campaign leader with 25 years of experience in strategy, campaign management, policy development and execution, messaging and communications leadership, and field mobilization. Marc has a deep track record of assembling winning bipartisan campaigns on the most challenging issues. He was one of the key architects of the marriage equality movement and has applied lessons from the marriage equality movement to help secure impactful criminal justice reforms, pass laws enacting automatic voter registration, advance pro-immigrant policies, and build bipartisan support for ending partisan gerrymandering.In this clip Marc shares his own process of navigating the losses of his long-term involvement in the Marriage Equality Act. He shares his tips for finding ongoing motivation and a sense of forward progress even during times the most difficult defeats along the way.

“Where my focus has always been, is on the work of trying to help bring something that lots of people think is impossible, to a place where it is close to inevitable.” – Marc Solomon

David DeSteno (44:00)

This next clip is from Episode 138 of the Metta Hour, featuring David DeSteno, originally airing October29th, 2020. David is a psychologist and author who studies the ways in which emotions guide decisions and behaviors fundamental to social living. He is a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, where he directs the Social Emotions Group. At the broadest level, his work examines the mechanisms of the mind that shape vice and virtue. Studying hypocrisy and compassion, pride and punishment, cheating and trust, his work continually reveals that human moral behavior is much more variable than most would predict. In this clip, David speaks to Sharon about perseverance: what informs the grit we have to face difficulty over time–and how the things we care the most about and have the most gratitude for ultimately serve as the best source of resilience.

“The longterm goal, if you’re always focusing on the end result, is difficult. But if you focus on little achievements along the way, and take pride, feel gratitude for the people who are helping you, feel compassion for the people who will be helped—those emotions will alter your brain’s assessment of how valuable that end goal is, and will buttress you in the stress response that you’re getting in trying to persevere towards those ends.” – David DeSteno

Jana Kiser (49:22)

Our final clip is from Episode 139 of the Metta Hour, featuring Jana Kiser, originally aired October 26th, 2020. Jana is a social entrepreneur and Harvard-trained educator. She has more than twenty years of experience partnering with youth, adults, and communities in their pursuit of equity, justice, and peace. Jana founded Global Learning, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to education for peace and justice. She is also the founder of Bajacu’ Boricua in collaboration with the Holistic Life Foundation, which brought together an international teaching team including Sharon, to support community healing in the after math of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In this clip Jana talks about the importance of joy for our ongoing capacity to sustain engagement, and the steps of fully integrating joy into our minds and bodies for the greatest impact.

“I look at joy as a resource that it fills us up, sustains us, and allows us to keep going when things are hard, so that we can actually contribute and do the hard courageous work that is needed for us to really create the systemic change that our world is calling for.” – Jane Kiser