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Real Life: The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom

by Sharon Salzberg

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273876,645 (4.5)7
"Merging the insights of inspiring voices with her own understanding of mindfulness, New York Times bestselling author Sharon Salzberg shows us how we can recover from the emotional effects of crisis. When confronted with pain and obstacles, we often shrink back and contract out of fear and disappointment. That can become a way of life. In Real Life, Sharon Salzberg lets us know it doesn't have to be that way. When we feel alone, cut off, or trapped, we can let those difficulties steer us onto a path toward an authentic, flourishing life-living in a way that allows us to find the wholeness that lies within. Even when we're alone, a sense of community can accompany us through the stormy times. Our words, hearts, and actions can line up with a larger vision, rather than the smaller views our anxious, fearful thoughts arouse in us. To live in a less constricted way-with a more spacious, open sense of possibility, creativity, connection, and joy-Salzberg says we need to get real about what's most important, to ask ourselves, "What do I most deeply yearn for?" "What would I benefit from letting go of?" "What do I believe is possible for me?" We accomplish the journey to expansive freedom (Real Life) through developing tools like mindful awareness, friendship, and a greater sense of purpose/aspiration. We learn to: take some risks with what we dare to imagine; take an interest in internal states we might normally try to avoid; and take an interest in people we might normally try to avoid Real Life is about the journey we make when we decide to live the life that speaks to our innermost longing to live free"--… (more)
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I read and reviewed this author’s book “Lovingkindness” and found it wonderful.

As far as the present book is concerned, I cannot really say what it is about, though I can see that the subtitle is “the journey from isolation to openness and freedom”.

There were also short passages or sentences that I had difficulty in comprehending. It is her way of writing I find difficult. I prefer things to be concrete for them to be comprehensible.

Sharon is a Buddhist so the book contains much about this religion.

The Buddha declared that the only status that truly matters is the status of personal goodness and this is attained through personal effort, not by birth.

He said that a true Brahmin is one who is gentle, wise and caring.

In Buddhist teaching, the journey to freedom can be described as:

Moving from craving/endless searching to peace’

Moving from aversion (anger and fear) to compassion

Moving from delusion to vibrancy and connection.

We’re told to practice looking directly at difficult feelings and having equanimity or peace of mind toward them.

We’re told about RAIN,

R is for recognize

A for allow

I for investigate

N for nurturing – remembering to be kind to yourself.

“The use of RAIN shows us how we might create a larger, lighter, kinder space for any emotion -- “

This brings about a natural sense of greater freedom and ease.

Tibetan teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche shares a way of connecting to ourselves called the “handshake practice.

Here we are invited to shake hands with what he calls “our beautiful monsters”.

Come into your body. Don’t look for special things, just be with what’s there.

Skilful handshaking involves the following:

Soften and allow for your experience

Stay grounded

Be with yourself without expecting to change what’s there.

Listen and welcome.

We are given a breathing technique:

Inhale for a count of four

Hold your breath for a count of four, and

Exhale for a count of eight.

I found the book worthwhile to read, though I may have missed its basic message As stated above, I found the author’s style of writing difficult, and this is probably why I failed to comprehend everything she wrote.

The appendix comprises the Eightfold Path, a meditation guide and a section on Lovingkindness meditation. (I would highly recommend reading Sharon’s book on this subject.) ( )
  IonaS | Jan 23, 2024 |
Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, has written a variety of books on meditation and spiritual life. Real Life: The Journey from Isolation to Openness was written during the pandemic and Salzberg addresses the isolation imposed on us. Salzberg is a natural storyteller and draws from the her own and others' experiences to show us how we can move from fear to joy. While Salzberg is a Buddhist and the appendix includes information on the Eight Fold Path and lovingkindness meditation, she uses The Saturday Night Seder, a YouTube program that began during COVID, as the focus with the metaphor of the Passover journey as a theme. The book celebrate moving from constriction to expansion and I find Salzberg's approach to be comforting. ( )
  witchyrichy | May 16, 2023 |
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"Merging the insights of inspiring voices with her own understanding of mindfulness, New York Times bestselling author Sharon Salzberg shows us how we can recover from the emotional effects of crisis. When confronted with pain and obstacles, we often shrink back and contract out of fear and disappointment. That can become a way of life. In Real Life, Sharon Salzberg lets us know it doesn't have to be that way. When we feel alone, cut off, or trapped, we can let those difficulties steer us onto a path toward an authentic, flourishing life-living in a way that allows us to find the wholeness that lies within. Even when we're alone, a sense of community can accompany us through the stormy times. Our words, hearts, and actions can line up with a larger vision, rather than the smaller views our anxious, fearful thoughts arouse in us. To live in a less constricted way-with a more spacious, open sense of possibility, creativity, connection, and joy-Salzberg says we need to get real about what's most important, to ask ourselves, "What do I most deeply yearn for?" "What would I benefit from letting go of?" "What do I believe is possible for me?" We accomplish the journey to expansive freedom (Real Life) through developing tools like mindful awareness, friendship, and a greater sense of purpose/aspiration. We learn to: take some risks with what we dare to imagine; take an interest in internal states we might normally try to avoid; and take an interest in people we might normally try to avoid Real Life is about the journey we make when we decide to live the life that speaks to our innermost longing to live free"--

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