I am loving, Real Love, by Sharon Salzberg where she guides readers on a deeper understanding of love through direct experience and challenges both cultural myths and individual preconceived beliefs on love in relationships. Despite learning many of the ideas, concepts, and research findings she shares in this book through other mindfulness teachers and as a DBT trained therapist, I find this book refreshing, hopeful, and easy to both read and directly apply to daily life.
Sharon Salzberg, is an internationally renowned mindfulness meditation teacher best known for spreading lovingkindness practices throughout western cultures. I have immersed myself this month in both her Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connectionand Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Kindnessbooks as a support for taking on the Sacred Treehouse 100-day Challenge of Loving kindness Practice. For me, I have a found it easy to start this practice the moment I wake up each morning by bringing attention to the two furry babies snuggled in my bed. I just start with them each morning and then allow other beings to come to my mind naturally and I usually end by extending these wishes to be SAFE, HEALTHY, HAPPY, and FREE to all beings everywhere.
One of my favorite exercises in the book is bringing mindfulness to relationships by setting an intention to be open to the present moment, with curiosity to truly “SEE” the beings the universe brings our way. That’s right! Even the ones who may seem IN OUR WAY. I love this and I often share one of my favorite “self-challenges” I use to move closer to people who are difficult, who reject me, or when I experience aversion or judgment toward someone. This is really an opportunity for awakening to my own conditioned beliefs and habits and to move opposite to them. Rather than reinforcing my automatic thoughts and feelings- I choose to move toward them with curiosity, first directed inward at my own reactions and then I shine a brighter, wiser light on them to bring awareness to what I may have missed by closing down upon experiencing the automatic judgments or emotional reactions.
Here is an abbreviated version of the exercise in her book to try if you like challenges:
- Begin to notice your interactions with people in your daily life. Notice if your intentions vary depending on the person you are engaging with and if your expectations, assumptions, or judgments impact the interactions.
- With each mindful interaction try to notice something surprising or try a new way of interacting and notice what arises.
- Even with familiar people bring curiosity to conversations by asking open ended questions.
- Consider including any difficult people you encounter into your daily lovingkindness practice.
Sending love and kindness,
Patty and The Sacred Treehouse Faculty
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Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.