Real Life

There are times, and I suspect I speak for most of us when I say this, when we feel like we’re merely bystanders to our own lives. There are times when we feel mired and habit, withdrawn and small. Even though we want to take a stand about something we care about, we want to reach out to someone in need, we want to go up to someone and thank them for their work, we are nonetheless suddenly seized by the conviction that our words or actions couldn’t possibly be meaningful. That we don’t count as much as others. That we should just shrink back and dwell in the long occupied constraining box we’re accustomed to. So familiar, even if cramped and confining.  

At the same time we can also recognize those moments when even baby steps into new terrain are exciting. Perhaps a little wobbly but also audacious. Where we connect to something bigger than our fears and feel we are living more fully, learning and growing and having an adventure.  When trying new approaches or different behaviors does not feel destined to an imminent sputtering end because of our belief that we’re fundamentally limited. Instead, possibilities abound. Perhaps our early conditioning has trained us to imagine that very little happiness is available to us. An oppressive personal or cultural atmosphere might work to depict our right to joy as negligible, our room to move is awfully limited. A path to Liberation counteracts this conditioning and culturally reinforced constriction. To accomplish such a transformation it asks us to go forward Into the full range of our feelings and reactions with kindness and honesty. 

When we do so, we realize that we can travel from painful constriction to expansion and freedom. This is not a one-and-done journey. It’s something we repeat again and again. Not because of compulsion or obligation but because we are fueled by the happiness of discovery, by the relief of openness, and by realizing with joy, the breadth and depth of what we might well be capable of. This is what I’m calling real life. Real life is about what happens when we fully engage with our everyday lives, whatever shape our lives take whatever challenges and obstacles that life may bring. 


Sharon Salzberg is a pioneer in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author. She has played a pivotal role bringing meditation and mindfulness into mainstream American culture since 1974. Sharon is co-founder of The Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, MA and has authored 12 books, including her most recent, Real Life; The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom, published by Flatiron, the New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness, Lovingkindness, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection, and Real Change.

Join Sharon for Real Life on Saturday June 24th, 2023 10-4pm PT. 

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