Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 184 – Agapi Stassinopoulos

Author and speaker Agapi Stassinopoulos joins Sharon for a conversation on the Metta Hour Podcast Episode 184.

Agapi Stassinopoulos is the author of “Wake Up to the Joy of You” and “Unbinding the Heart: A Dose of Greek Wisdom, Generosity and Unconditional Love.” She leads workshops at Thrive Global, a company founded by her sister, Arianna Huffington, to help change how we work and live. Agapi’s newest book, “Speaking with Spirit: 52 Prayers to Guide, Inspire, and Uplift You,” was released in January of 2022 by Harmony Books. In this conversation, Agapi and Sharon discuss:

• Agapi’s family history in WW2
• The influence of Agapi’s mother on her path
• What happens after spiritual awakening
• The inspiration for Agapi’s new book
• Differences between prayer and meditation
• How to embrace a higher power
• Approaching prayer as a practice
• Cultivating confidence
• Spiritual versus religious
• Non-attachment in prayer
• Communion with the Divine
• Why we lose our sense of connection
• Finding the beloved inside
• Letting go of perfection to find greater joy
• The epidemic of loneliness
• Getting out of the way of our creativity
• Giving your inner critic a vacation
• Agape’s approach to grace and resilience

The episode closes with Agapi reading a passage from her book on coming home. To learn more about Agapi’s work, you can visit her website.
Unconditional Love

Sharon and Agapi break the bread together with a discussion on what shaped Agapi’s spiritual path. First, Agapi describes the meaning of her name. In Greek, the word means unconditional love. It is like the love that God has for man. Agapi says that being given this name set the tone for her existence and her life’s work. Her mission has been to learn about unconditional love and living with an open heart. Her mother inspired her to always trust that the universe is on our side. As Agapi grew up, she felt pulled into practicing spirituality. She attended retreats, studied courses, and eventually found herself awakened to the idea that she is a child of God.

“When you have a spiritual awakening you think you’re gonna live happily ever after, but on the contrary you are tested. And now everything in your life becomes a leap of faith.” – Agapi Stassinopoulos

Listen to Ram Dass’ thoughts on unconditional love in Ep. 192 of Here and Now: The Possibility of Unconditional Love
The Evolution of Prayer (15:57)

Sharon and Agapi talk about the many forms prayer can come in. In loving-kindness meditations, we send positive thoughts out into the world for ourselves, our loved ones, people we are struggling with, and more. We may not think of this as a prayer, but really any type of call to God or the universe, any hope or dream, is a prayer. Sharon reads us a quote from Agapi’s book, Speaking with Spirit: 52 Prayers to Guide, Inspire, and Uplift You:

“In prayer, you begin moving beyond the confines of the self that is preoccupied with so many things. Whoever you think you are, you are not. Because our thinking is finite, we can not conceive with our minds the soul of who we are, which is infinite. The power and the process of prayer is that you go beyond your thoughts and your restricted mind and you start to touch upon the reality of who you really are.” – Agapi Stassinopoulos

Finding Confidence through Prayer (30:22)

When we pray, sometimes we expect a situation to change. Agapi says it is more beneficial if we pray for a feeling. Agapi shares a story about a suffering friend with whom she prayed. She did not try to direct her into changing her life or finding some type of quick solution to take action. Instead, they prayed for strength, peace, and confidence. When we pray to heal ourselves and express our feelings to the divine, we realize we are not alone. Through this, we are given strength even if our worldly situation can not immediately change.

Tune into: The Courage of Prayer for more on the topic of prayer.
Prayer for Creativity (51:56)

Sometimes, we are our own worst critics. We prevent ourselves from pursuing something creative because we worry about the outcome. Agapi shares a prayer for creativity which empowers us to trust ourselves and to express outwardly what we have within us. Agapi says we need to give ourselves permission to be creative. Each of us has some type of gift from God because no one is exactly like anyone else. We have unique expressions, thoughts, and creative modes. You, right now, are worthy to receive and worthy to give.

Photo via Agapi Stassinopoulos