Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 195 – Barbara Graham and Hugh Delehanty

Husband and wife, Barbara Graham and Hugh Delehanty join Sharon Salzberg for Episode 195 of the Metta Hour Podcast.

Barbara Graham is a New York Times bestselling author, essayist, and playwright. She is the author of several books, including her 2022 novel “What Jonah Knew.”Hugh Delehanty is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a National Magazine Award-winning editor, and a certified meditation teacher with more than 25 years of practice.

sharon salzberg

In this episode, Sharon, Hugh and Barbara discuss:

How Barbara & Hugh came to spiritual practice • How creativity can be informed by meditation • Finding joy in creative expression • Cultural assumptions about creativity • Training capacities we don’t think we have • Confronting our creative fears • The seed for Barbara’s recent book • Writing the thing you’re most afraid of • How visual art informed Hugh as a writer • The mystery of reincarnation • Hugh’s work in sports writing • Phil Jackson’s coaching ethos • Compassion in sports • Leonard Cohen • Trusting ones creative impulses

The episode closes with a meditation led by Hugh on open awareness. Learn more about Hugh’s work at and get yourself a copy of Barbara’s new book, “What Jonah Knew” at

Creativity and Mindfulness

Sharon begins by asking Barbara and Hugh to speak about their meditation practices and the intersection of creativity and mindfulness. Hugh talks about how meditation can help your creativity come forward, while Barbara shares how writing her novel, What Jonah Knew, was both the most challenging thing she’s ever done and the most fun she’s ever had. Sharon and Hugh touch on confronting people’s self-imposed limitations around creativity.

“One of the things that creativity is all about is touching into your subconscious and allowing it to come forward. And meditation can be a real help in that direction, it certainly was for me.” – Hugh Delehanty

Daniel Goleman joins David Nichtern for a conversation around awareness, creativity, and business in Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck Ep. 1
The Fruits of One’s Labor (22:00)

Sharon and Barbara talk about the intense process of writing a novel. For Barbara, the process is about allowing whatever arises to arise, the same way we do in meditation. She talks about an article she was assigned to write about past life regression therapy and how that inspired her to write this story. They all discuss the crossroads of creativity and commerce, and how there are no guarantees about the fruits of one’s labor.

“But in a certain way, the thing that for me is really most important about it, if you consider the possibility of rebirth, is how we live now. Because it extends the impact that we have: how we live now, how we treat one another, how we treat our planet. It really comes back to the Dharma teachings and the present moment and how we treat each other with loving-kindness and compassion.” – Barbara Graham

Ram Dass talks about reincarnation in Here and Now Ep. 62
Mindfulness and Sports (41:00)

Sharon asks Hugh about the role of mindfulness in the world of sports. Hugh talks about working with Phil Jackson, who helped turn the game of basketball from a celebration of individuality to a celebration of teamwork. Barbara speaks about how it also takes a village to birth a book. Barbara and Hugh touch on the creative mastery of Leonard Cohen, then Hugh closes out the show with an open awareness meditation to cultivate creativity.

“Phil [Jackson] talked about it as being one team, one breath.” – Hugh Delehanty

Mingyur Rinpoche elucidates the power of open awareness in BHNN Guest Podcast Ep. 73