We talk about “finding your voice” as a positive thing, but not all of the voices that live inside you have your best interests at heart.

Today’s episode takes a deep dive into what drives our Inner Critic. My guest is Sebene Selassie, a meditation teacher and writer whose perspective is informed by her history as an Ethiopian immigrant, decades of work in the social justice sphere, her protracted battle with breast cancer, and 25 years of studying Buddhism, including a stint as the director of the New York Insight Meditation Center.

As we explore the ways in which our inner voices are conditioned by society, we talk about the importance of asking the question “What am I not willing to feel?”, how to break the habit of “future tripping,” where you’re always obsessing about what will happen next, and how meditation can help you build your capacity to hold more — more joy, more pain, more life.

Key takeaways from our conversation:

  • How the voice of your “inner critic” has been conditioned and created by society
  • Why pain x resistance = suffering
  • How to stop “future-tripping” and get back in touch with the present moment
  • Why you should ask the question: “What am I not willing to feel?”
  • The difference between “joy” and “happiness”
  • How meditation helps you build the capacity to “hold more”
Go Deeper

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Favorite Quotes

“Many of us can see the voice of the inner critic, but many cannot. We just operate on a default mode that there are these voices and these ideas in our heads that we take as truth — that we should be beating ourselves up to do better, that we should be pushing ourselves, that we’re not good enough, that we’re not smart enough, that we’re not doing enough. Not everyone necessarily realizes that those are conditioned voices, that they come from our society.”

“Meditation for me is practice for when the sh*t really hits the fan. Sometimes we can over-emphasize the present moment idea of meditation but it’s really building your capacity to hold more, whether that’s this week or in two years when something shows up that you didn’t necessarily plan for or want.”

“In a way, none of my thoughts are my own because I’ve learned language and learned ideas only through human beings. Not to mention that most of the thoughts you have are repetitive — something like 90% of your thoughts are not original.”


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A shortlist of the ideas & resources that come up in our conversation:

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00:00:00we just operate on a default mode that they're these voices and these ideas in our heads that we just take his truth that we should be beating ourselves up to do better that we're not good enough and not everyone necessarily realizes that those are conditioned voices that you know they come from our society they come from certain moments in our life and that we built these systems inside of us and meditation can help us unravel it for spite just even seeing it
00:00:30I'm Jocelyn K glei and this is hurry slowly a podcast about pacing yourself right explore how you can find more creativity and meaning in your life do the simple Act of slowing down
00:00:45when I first started this podcast I often described the creative process to people as the act of finding your voice be completely literal and when I say that I'm using a comment rope that we used to talk about our internal self they referring to this idea of a singular internal voice your voice
00:01:08but the fact of the matter is each of us contains many many voices each with different personas submit admonish and Summit complain and something encourage
00:01:21if I need peace of mind and unlocking your creativity and even being more productive is in many ways about understanding how to navigate these voices how to observe them and tune into them and when necessary disarm them
00:01:35building a meditation practice is one of the most direct ways to begin to deepen your awareness of those internal voices
00:01:45and that's what led me to my guest for today 7 a.m. Selassie is a meditation teacher and a writer who was originally born in August Ababa Ethiopia and raised in Washington DC she is studying Buddhism for over 25 years and is the former director of the New York Insight Meditation Center
00:02:07prior to devoting herself to teaching meditation full-time 7A worked for nonprofits large and small doing social justice work in the United States and in West Africa she is also a three-time breast cancer survivor
00:02:24in this episode 7 a brings this Rich tapestry of experience to bear and a conversation about confronting your inner critic and learning how to be more compassionate with yourself and others we talked about the importance of asking the question what am I not willing to feel how to break the habit of future tripping we are always obsessing about what will happen next and how meditation can help you build your capacity to hold more more joy or pain more life
00:02:59what's 7
00:03:02when people come to you to learn about meditation or to move deeper into their practice what do you think they're typically seeking is there a common denominator of sorts
00:03:14common denominator is seeking alleviation from suffering and that's what brought me to meditation I think that's what brings most people and what suffering means to people is really very except for some people that might mean you know having some idea that meditation will help them and work or in their artistic practice or in something that they're trying to gain more Focus or I'm just just more sense a presence around and then some people it's really an emotional turmoil like a breakup or dealing with some kind of family trauma or patterns that they can't seem to change and thinking meditational help
00:03:53there are few people I think he really come in Earnest with a deeper spiritual Quest and I think that's probably what's underlying a lot of our general anxiety anyways is that deeper your name but there are some people who come with you really like having investigated for themselves some spiritual philosophies are religious understanding and then wanting to dive into that I was asking that question because I feel like there's so many different meditation apps that are out now it's starting to promote this idea of meditation as a kind of quick fix to sort of health and well-being you know if you look in an app like headspace which is originally positioned as you know a gym for the mind which is very assertive
00:04:42pedestrian description of meditation that's the one that really is focused on utility what do you think about that positioning a meditation thinking of it as something with utility is that the right way to think about it
00:04:56you know I really don't think there's a right or wrong way to think about meditation and here I would separate meditation from spiritual practice because there are there's plenty of meditation that is separate from spiritual practice I don't think it's good to think of spiritual practice that way cuz you really you really misleading yourself in terms of deepening into spiritual understanding it's never going to happen from that point of seeing it as sort of a quick fix or utilitarian thing like you're describing
00:05:30meditation has many I think different levels of of practical application and I'm sort of of the school and people differ here who are meditation teachers that and a kind of meditation is probably going to be helpful and can be a doorway for people so there's some controversy around things like mindfulness-based stress reduction you know that it removes the ethical foundation and spiritual Foundation from these teachings and just makes it something about stress relief well that's a door for a lot of people who wouldn't necessarily you know take themselves into a spiritual context to learn meditation but what sign up for an 8-week stress reduction class that comes with you know some sort of scientific proof that there's benefits and that this will help people in some way or another so I don't really see a problem with that like that doorway
00:06:22how far that's going to lead you in terms of alleviation of real suffering you know when meditation for me is practice for when the shit really hits the fan right so there's there's ways in which I've seen my meditation practice which I've been practicing for years really come into practical use when things get rough you know and I my practice really shows up as the foundation for me being able to deal with difficulties in my life if you're only sort of at the surface of meditation and using it to fall asleep or using it these are all there's nothing wrong with that using it fall asleep or using it enough to distress and in intense moments here and there that can be helpful but that's not really going to serve you when when real difficult to show up in the power of meditation has to offer for that
00:07:14when I was going to ask you how you frame your practice for yourself and so it's really as a preparation of sorts for difficult times well you know some people say that meditation is really preparation for death and that's seen on many levels and in that way you can explore that but yeah I would say that that's a big part of my meditation practices is not only about the moment sometimes we can overemphasize kind of the present moment idea of meditation but it's it's really building Your Capacity to hold more you know whether that's some this week or in in 2 years when something shows up that you didn't assembly plan for want so coming back to this idea of presents one aspect of medication this is something you've written about seems to be about confronting or maybe just witnessing your inner voices and I wanted to talk specifically about the inner critic that most of the sky
00:08:14around inside of us which for many people can be incredibly debilitating or paralyzing how do you see meditation is addressing that voice of the inner critic specifically
00:08:27well you know I think that first of all many of us can see the voice of the inner critic many cannot like we just operate on a default mode that they're these voices and these ideas in our heads that we we just take his truth we know that we should be beating ourselves up to to do better that we should be pushing ourselves in certain ways that weren't good enough that and I were not smart enough that we're not doing enough and not everyone necessarily realizes that those are conditioned voices that you know they come from our society they come from certain moments in our life that and that we built these these systems inside of us and meditation can help us unravel it for spite just even seeing it so there's that like first we have to actually recognize that there is that voice and it's usually many different voices
00:09:19and I think that just the fact of slowing down most so many of us move so quickly in our lives even if we don't look at ourselves SPD people our minds are moving so fast and there's nothing like a meditation practice or especially a Meditation Retreat when you have more time whether that's one day or 10 days or more to really witness oh that's what's going on in my head all the time this is what's driving me and those voices can come out and and really subtle ways sometimes you know though they'll sound like they're trying to help you but they're actually undermining Your Capacity to really be with yourself and compassionate way
00:10:03what is interesting what you were saying about slowing down because I was thinking about meditation seems to becoming increasingly popular and a certain way and it's happening at the same time as the sort of pace at which we all live and work is accelerating and Becomes Her increasingly faster and it feels to me almost like one of the reasons that we might be seeking meditation warm Wars as you say literally just as even separate from any spiritual practice or even separate from what you you might get out of it is just a way to create time especially time away from our gadgets and we have so little space anymore that's not filled with content and information and mean I am so guilty of this walking down the street either listening to things or literally reading things as I'm walking and passing I passed them on this morning I was looking
00:11:03what time it was supposed to meet someone this morning for a coffee and as I passed another woman who is also looking at her phone and just that kind of heartache and heartbreak that this is what it's come to let me know that we we're not even able to walk down the street without being engaged in an in our gadgets that so if we think of information as part of that speed that's beating us because we there are some of us who may not have been really busy schedules to probably anyone listening to this podcast has and I know most people in New York have that just that speed of having a lot of things going on day today but what's happening in our minds in terms of the speed like the amount that were taking in is a factor in that because we're taking in more and more information more and more quickly than other faster with girl on the faster we scan it's happened at some sort of case that I don't think a lot of us are even really conscious of that
00:12:03I was interviewing asleep scientist and she was young we were talking about people having trouble sleeping and she was talking about going to one of the reasons people have so much trouble sleeping is thinking about just what you're describing in a certain Pace at which people are moving in the level of dizziness and the level of information consumption and that we do that would you let me do that Voodoo that then go lay down in the bed and we're like why can't my brain stopped but you know when it's literally like as if your brain has been viewed I may be running like the Boston Marathon all day and then he like in a ran through the Finish Line tape and just laid out of bed more like why am I so worked up right right at its like that's become this normal and we're not even cognizant think about the amount of like televised content it's not television anymore but the number of shows that exists now and I'm always amazed when I meet people and how much
00:13:03they're caught up on and they watch this and this and this and this and I mean Friday of us who are older who remember when they were you know just a few networks we're talking about the equivalent of like thousands of networks all-in-one little box made my sister is intellectually disabled and she's learning how to use a computer to can't read a ride but she knows how to scroll through Netflix at one time she was asking for puzzles new puzzles if I wanted to buy her so I can open the computer and I and I ordered puzzle for her and then put her back to Netflix and she just looked at me to that everything is in there
00:13:40I was like yeah you're actually right for that everything is him there and you know it's just incredible it would take acclimated to it so quickly and it's just normal that in our pockets we have these machines that reveals so much data to us all the time and so do you see meditation is almost as creating a space but also kind of helping us declutter tea is another singer of productivity oriented word in a way yes definitely and you know at this point it's like it's just triage to try and use 20 minutes a day to create a little space hopefully what it does is start to reorient us to starting to make more and more space whether it doesn't have to be that we were suddenly meditating hours and hours a day but time away from our gadgets with our families and friends and and ways that we we sort of great stuff gaps around all that.
00:14:40cremation yeah I'm so coming back to this idea of the inner critic and the peace I was referring to before you were talking about I have a necessity of sort of befriending your inner critic Hurley's not actively rejecting your inner critic could you describe that a little bit you know that's really related to a central tenet of meditation stuff that I'm aware of that is it is that works is that resistance doesn't doesn't help I'm so there's this sort of modern equation around meditation that pain times resistance equals suffering so whatever the pain is whether it's an inner critic or it's an actual pain in our body if we resist it actually just creating more attention so we're not going to solve the problem of wanting more Stillness or spaciousness in our lives or wanting a lessening of the voices of the inner critic by resisting them because we're meeting tension with tension
00:15:37so we have to sort of make space and that's where this practice of building a capacity for awareness so knowing what's happening first of all I'm just realizing I know there are these voices I'm not just cuz I'm running with them and I'm finding myself down to story line where you know I am beating myself up for not having finish the project on time but we're starting to say oh wow okay I noticed that I'm criticizing myself from this what what is that really about and making the space to be able to first to witness and allow and accept which starts to loosen that tension and that habit of creating more anxiety and more resistance around something and starting to investigate and go underneath what's that what that's really about I had I was late on a delivery of something recently and I noticed when I started to make space for it and allow myself to actually feel it rather than just kind of push it away that there was a lot of
00:16:38anxiety around disappointing this person that I was supposed to deliver something to and you know that this appointment goes way back like we can start to trace that these are patterns that are deep and they're old and that's where meditation starts to connect with psychology and starts a process of unwinding patterns that are probably really ingrained in us for four decades depending on how old we are how do you see that awareness unfolding in your own practice moment-to-moment I was reflecting on something that was my teacher is Tara Brach says a lot she asked this question what are we not willing to feel
00:17:20so you know for me when whenever I notice set up a negative emotion or or tension in my mind are also in my body cuz usually is related to something going on emotionally I start to find make space for it and notice I can want to write what do I not want to feel right now it's usually some version of fear or something related to not feeling like I'm good enough for not doing enough which is I think a big one for most of us in this culture now so that process of recognizing tension is the first step in and that's what I mean by some people don't even know they have these critics are just on autopilot of you know constant performance and productivity so that first recognition is is really the first step to notice and I've gotten pretty good at that I hope over the years that I'm aware of when I'm reacting out of my patterns
00:18:20text challenges actually making space for allowing it because we can't really restart to investigate it without making that space we're just coming up with stories and we usually end up in either justification for why we're feeling that way or going into modes of trying to fix it before we've even really relaxed around in and so when you say making space what do you mean exactly well let you know I'm not a psychologist and I'm not trained in any kind of somatic work in a deep way so I'm saying this is a late person at a meditation teacher that what I what I know and in my own experience when I've seen in most people is that when we have a psychological tension or reaction there's usually an equivalent body sensation there's usually tension in the body in the body and the mind or not separate things there that were when one thing we talked about it as if it separate and even the word my
00:19:20Thomasina we put the word mind right in it thinking that there's only a mental process there so for me making space means actually making some room in the body and so it it's the body in the heart and the mind but really it pausing so rather than jumping into the next thought or trying to figure out and fix something you know I can feel that sense of like oh I feel really shity for not handing this in on time I what's going on so
00:19:53pausing like noticing there's tension in the heart space or noticing there's tension in the ballet and starting to be like okay well what is that really about it when I really breathe into it like you're doing now or make some space in the body and and and in my mind that's not being cluttered by their thoughts of the moment I can sense it there's that disappointment so it's a process of really allowing yourself to stay with an emotion or stay with a sensation that long enough to to have some some clarity about it it's time for a quick break now but stay with me after the gym 7 a.m. and I talked about future trippin and how meditation helped her get through her battle with breast cancer
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00:23:34you bring up the issue we talked about mindfulness practice and I think that so many of us can come to meditation you bring this idea that as a sort of intellectual activity perhaps or wait to calm the mind and become more focused but one of the first foundations of cultivating awareness is coming back into the body right and I feel like you were in a talking before about technology and I think that that is specifically our relationship with technology is pulled us so deeply out of our bodies we spend so much time to sort of two-dimensional screen space which is very much an imaginary and my future projected type of world it feels like one of the most powerful things about medication is that ability to bring it back into your body but I don't think a lot of us come to it and it's really thinking that
00:24:26yes and it's not our fault because we called it mindfulness and there has been a tendency for a lot of the western teachers of meditation I think or at least the popular forms that are really taking off to not emphasize the body or at least in kind of the most popular forms that have reached the the masses and not inside the body when you delve into practices or even something like mbsr mindfulness-based stress reduction there is actually a strong emphasis on the body but you really have to delve into committing today we class to discover that but yes you know I've witnessed that if you look at a lot of the way anyways Buddhism has travel through different countries it really add apps to whatever culture it goes to and takes on certain philosophies but also create certain correctives for whatever the the challenges or particular sufferings are
00:25:26different societies so you see the potassium in Japan is very different than into that and I really think that as these practices evolve here that will have to come back to the body more and more because it really is the correct in that this country needs there's such a separation of mind and body and there's such a and needing to heal the particular trauma that people have here which are often about disembodiment that they'll really need that corrective and why do you think that's unique to the United States not just the United States but I think the Western World in general you know because of Cartesian dualism and the enlightenment know everything has gone up and then turn on the head and Andrea Liana and a worldview that's based in scientific materialism and and not really connected to a feeling sensitive of our of our existence but do you feel that as well with technology
00:26:26I like when you are interacting with your phone or interacting with your computer to me that feels all so very much like you're just completely in this disembodied headspace that's probably perhaps the final outcome of of that trajectory and yes it was and I think it's interesting that you also see the backlash against that and so many people really returning to some forms of embodied living and you see this Fascination now with all things ancient and sacred and I'm going back to the land and there's issues within that in terms of the cultural appropriation and the thoughtlessness that surround some of it but I think it is part of that yearning to reconnect to something that we've been disconnected from for a long time and Technology being but yeah that at most symbol of it
00:27:22when you alluded to earlier talking about kind of all of the different thoughts and ideas that we serve absorbed from culture that maybe feed into the center correct that were maybe not entirely conscious as I've been recently beginning to study Reiki I'm very Like New in the practice and as I've been working one thing I found especially in the very early stages was it when I was working with someone and they would search transmit their thoughts to them and I would have those thoughts and I didn't recognize that at first I just thought they were my thoughts and afterwards I would talk to them about you know what happened to realize though that that very unusual thought that I have is actually something that came from you it wasn't my fault in fact and that makes sense for Reiki rents from the energy healing interserv acting as a vessel so that sort of the flowing makes a lot of sense but it really made me think we'll
00:28:15which thoughts that I'm having are my thoughts meditation and and you know it kind of assist you with starting to untangle some of that because I think that you know as you say some of us aren't even aware of the inner critic there's so many things that we just taken on board and you know become a lenses or what we think about ourselves and it work and our relationships but they might not really be certain hour but says yeah yeah there's this krishnamurti quote that I love where he said that the you think you're thinking your thoughts you're not you're thinking cultures thoughts
00:29:02and if we just think of it in terms of our our Evolution as individuals from birth to now everything we've learned we've learned through Society so in a way none of my thoughts are my own because I've learned language and learned ideas only through other human beings not to mention that most of the thoughts you have a repetitive something like 90 something percent of your thoughts are not original you have them the day before we think we're being original but we're not I probably said that exact sentence you know or three many times in my teaching and yeah so there there's that basic fact that like anything worth thinking is constructed within within this world we're living but there's there's also just the all the unconscious conditioning that we have that we're not aware of and a teacher of a lot around unconscious bias and just looking at how different are
00:30:02unconscious thoughts and actions and speech are compared to our conscious values and all the research a lot of it has been done in the medical world around people who claim and and really believe that they have conscious egalitarian values and they do and when studies are done in across various disciplines different with different controls we see that people have all sorts of unconscious racist or sexist speech and actions and thoughts so yeah there's there's a lot going on with the mind that we're not aware of so we can have unconscious bias towards other people but we can also have internalised oppression there's something that's been studied and talked about a lot that's called stereotype threat and it's the tendency for people who are stereotyped like people of color or women to go into situations and when
00:31:02reminded of their status of the race of their gender they will not perform as well let's say on a math test or in things that they are soon to be worse at and of course most women are people of color don't need to be reminded of who they are and what their identity is in society so we've internalized all these thoughts about ourselves about others and we think we have these conscious egalitarian goals and values but we're actually moving through the world with his unconscious conditioning so there's all sorts of ways that these inner critics which are purchased personal voices but also our voices around ourselves and in terms of our Identity or our voices about other people are really running the show
00:31:48and how you said that you teach specifically addressing this issue and certain classes how do you go about that looks are starting to unpack that are how does that play out in the meditation practice part of it is just naming that so you know a lot of people don't want to recognize that about themselves you know they might want to talk about it about other people really starting to look at the data that shows that how much this affects everyone and very few of us are free from this kind of unconscious conditioning and then to do really simple Reflections on sometimes I'll hand out pictures of just various people of various races and genders and backgrounds and have people just contemplate these images and a reflective way and then share around what conscious thoughts they were aware of and what some unconscious conditioning that may have surface through their to their awareness but you know it takes time and it takes the ability to act
00:32:48I start to slow down and notice what are responses to different people what are responses to the world that's a willingness to start to create space in our minds it's not going to be filled with all sorts of worrying and planning all the time but being able to see thoughts as they're starting to rise and different situations
00:33:07well speaking of worrying and planning on interview always listening to with you before this time you use the phrase future trippin which I hadn't heard before actually can you describe what that is most of us are not living in the present moment in the sense that we're not responding directly to what's happening around us we're actually living in the past and replaying things we said or did I'm trying to come up with a different responses which is extremely useless in that is probably the most useless of past tripping I guess it is is the worst tripping really so many of us are living in the future like trying to protect ourselves from various experiences create scenarios create conversations look for ways to control but really it's not possible all we can really do is is is do what we need to do in order for
00:34:07Our Lives to go out the way that we Aspire for them to which might include planning but future tripping would be playing for the 18th time the talk that you've actually already given three times before you know someone on Retreat who is planning what they're going to do when they leave the retreat for the 20th time okay so you might need to kind of plan your route remind yourself that you need to get a ride from the airport or to the airport but you don't necessarily need to go over it 20 times in one meditation sitting I see that happening a lot or you know for me it's really disaster mitigation like I I kind of plan for disasters that haven't really happened yet I probably won't happen but I am attentive because of my own history of trauma or my own upbringing 10 to fear the worst outcome and so I'll start planning around the worst outcome
00:35:07burning when when I have no idea what the outcome will be from a particular situation so yeah sort of reminding myself that I need to do the least amount of planning possible so that I can shop and just do what I need to do when I get there right yeah I've started using the term internally for myself like re-litigating it's like that's and I do that with conversations that I feel like we're planning conversations are in you know reaction to an email to create some tension I'll find myself like litigating in RI litigating some you no argument our conversation or one that might happen in the future and then you become conscious you see yourself doing this you realize that you're completely closing off any possibility of anything
00:35:53interesting or new happening when that event arrives right and for me I don't know how it is for you it's usually around some fear of rejection or hurting someone's feeling or someone misinterpreting something when I'm going through conversations like that over and over again and if I can just kind of again you know allow and make space and be with that like what am I not willing to feel like if I just feel that like how I really care about this relationship I really care about what this person thinks about me or I don't care about this relationship and hope that that that's something to look at it swell
00:36:33I mentioned the term future trippin in this originally came up you were talking about at that time your battle with breast cancer and you were you were just talking now about your re-election for disaster planning which makes a lot of sense when you're moving through situations like that you're 3 x Survivor breast cancer at this point what role did your meditation practice play when you were moving through that multiple times which I can only imagine was incredibly intense and scary and also just painful process
00:37:07yeah you know luckily I was a meditator before I got diagnosed the first time so I had that Foundation of a practice to help support me through that and it was still really hard and now there is especially the first time something really was 34 so I was really young I knew no one else by age and actually at that point no one else would have gone through that so just navigating all of that was a lot of experience of just seeing like all the fear and planning your funeral and Imagining the worst outcomes of certain treatments and fearing surgery so that practice of just really being able to come back to the breath come back to the body and creating a lot of space to allow for that so that meant you know increasing my practice time and I do do that they tend to do more practice when I'm going through difficult difficult things
00:38:07and doing Retreats working with people one-on-one who we really skilled at holding that that was really important for me but there's no getting around it's not that meditation then gets rid of all of that fear and so learning to actually be with it and being willing to feel that you notice it in that tear which is probably all of ours ultimate terror is that that fear of death is death of loved ones yeah it is a bit is a fierce fierce practice of the you learn to sit in really real uncomfortableness you know a real understanding of what it feels like when fear is coursing through the body we tend to just push that away and you know there are times when I did that I remember very distinctly around the second diagnosis that my husband and I just I think we were just so shocked and I really never expected to get diagnosed a second time
00:39:07by the third time I wasn't happy about it but I was like okay well I know how to do this now all the seasons so quickly and then there was a need to kind of just disconnect like I couldn't sit in it all the time and needed in hours at a time to just be fully absorbed in something else and and to not beat myself up about that you know could you imagine going through that without having had her meditation practice now I say all the time I don't know how people survive most things about a meditation practice or some kind of practice you know I don't want to say that this practice or but his practice or mindfulness practice is the only thing but I really feel for people who really don't have tools you know whether that's a really deep yoga practice that helps them connect two ways of sitting with
00:40:07faculties in Life or a prayer practice or some kind of spiritual practice and even if you're not religious that's some way whether it's being in nature on a regular basis but some regular way of I'm holding the complexity guitar of our lives our lives are only getting more complex and I really feel for the young people and my nephews and my friends kids who don't necessarily have the tools to navigate something that is so Uncharted you know for four centuries life was not that different even with some of the technologies that came along we we are really in Uncharted Territory now and I hope that people are finding ways to to Grapple with that
00:40:51can you talk to the past about dealing with breast cancer moving through that pain moving through all of the challenges you talked about the ability to put it in perspective and talk about some of the situations you've been on with doing social justice work with working in refugee camps I wanted to kind of bring this bag we we talked about happiness and well-being like almost interchangeably you stay is culturally speaking you see those two words together quite frequently but so much of well-being depends on this ability to go to put things in perspective and Bell put yourself in your experience, continue on which doesn't always involve a lot of positive thinking per say I'm thinking care of the the five recollection and I wonder if you could describe what those are and kind of the role that they play in meditation a teaching and Buddhism and it's a chance actually that's chanted daily and a lot of monasteries and
00:41:51they're the Recollections of our reality so the recollection that you know I have not gone beyond aging I have not gone beyond Hill Health have not gone beyond death everything that is dear to me will be lost and every action that I take now will affect my future I come see you
00:42:12recollect that every day that I will grow old I will get sick I will die I will lose everything around me at some point I'm either through my own death or their death or deterioration and everything I do will impact everything that happens in the future that's seems really heavy but it's actually just the truth this it's not even outlandish it's it's just the real the only thing we all share is birth and death and everything that happens in between his is really just a question of faith in terms of how much time and what kind of time we get here for me that that perspective-taking has been so important especially is westerners and moderns and people who almost assume that happiness is guaranteed and that that even success or wealth is guaranteed
00:43:08and I'm not to deny those things or think that those things are bad that we need to lead us out of Lifestyles but just to Grapple with the fact that that's that's not true that's not true for the majority of the world first of all and it's not guaranteed for any of us there's this late than teacher Charlotte Joko Beck and American sent teacher and she said that Joy is what's happening Midas our opinion of it
00:43:38the joys what's happening minus our opinion of it and she's making the distinction there between joy and happiness that happiness has an opposite and which is unhappiness but joy is at this capacity to be with whatever is happening with a sense of ease and allowing and it doesn't mean that we don't change difficult circumstances or that we don't try and encourage positive experiences but we don't resist life kinds constantly trying to control everything just for our happiness because that's impossible there is unhappiness there is ill how there is death there is sickness there all those things and to kind of Grass Pad this eternal constant happiness is really delusional in fact
00:44:24when do you think that then closes off the possibility of joy
00:44:30it certainly is not a sustainable level of joy mean the the people who I really admire in terms of their meditation practice or their spiritual practice they seem to have a really sustained joy and I wouldn't say that means that they're happy all the time that's certainly not true and it doesn't even mean that they're always enjoy them because I haven't as far as I know met any enlightened Masters but I do think that's possible or think it's possible to to live in the kind of joy that you can see in someone like Desmond Tutu Archbishop Desmond Tutu or the Dalai Lama people who just seem to embody and people have been through very difficult circumstances in their life that seemed to embody this this is eternal Joy
00:45:19and in order to get there you kind of have to have this counterweight right like this perspective you're at this really beautiful post on your blog about contemplating death and then she wrote about a year after her mother passed and it was about how your sister contemplated your mother's death could you talk about that store so as I mentioned before my sister's intellectually disabled so she's she's 51 and she has the intellectual capacity of a toddler so she can't read a ride and she speaks and kind of incomplete sentences that she's pretty mature she's probably more mature than me in a lot of ways and after my mom died she was had lived with her for 50 years and she was really just grappling with how to
00:46:09how to understand her grief and she would need to process every day with us with me and my husband she was living with us for about a year after my mom died and every day she would go through the fact that our mom had died and start to list all the people she knew who it died the way to understand that I should say mommy died so yes Mommy died about your uncle died yeah I bought the dye Michael Jackson died yep Michael Jackson died and she would go through and list all the people she could remember who died and then she started doing this thing where she would start listing everyone who she knew would die which is everyone so should go while you're going to die yeah I'm going to die. He's going to die Obama's going to die yes or mama's going to buy that you would go through and every day we would spend I don't know like at least 15 minutes A Time multiple times a day and that was her grief process like that was her way of grappling with death and it was such an
00:47:09hazing death contemplation because you know we would usually end up in fits of laughter about some aspect of it cuz she would think Stevie Wonder is dead but he's not or she would forget the prince of died and there was a really beautiful reminder and you know that in this really simple way she could understand too that you know we're all going to die and then we we can grieve our mom but we don't have to be in a deep depression or sorrow about it all the time and we both went through a lot of grief together but that was one way of releasing it
00:47:47yeah well most of us I think would be very afraid to do that type of death contemplation Justina thinking about looking at everyone that you know and just sort of literally standing out loud that they're all going to die yeah she's pretty Fearless
00:48:04when you talked about how that eventually moved from you. So it's probably kind of pretty dark initially to almost more of like a from a death contemplation almost two more of like a gratitude contemplation do you feel like that same exactly but that sort of Arc has been is also how your meditation practices and fold you feel like it's moving more towards gratitude and servant awareness of that
00:48:33because I think you know there's nothing like cancer to deepen your meditation practice and gratitude practice so I'm very lucky that I wake up everyday with a sense of gratitude because I've just been very second certain times and not sure if I would make it so for me that that come more easily what's really shifted for me recently as my practice continues temperature in deep end is gratitude for the difficulties so it's easy to be grateful for my life and for the all the wonderful things I have which are many and what is you mention I worked in refugee camps having perspective and witnessing what is possible in this world Witcher you know can be whores and and deep deep lost it can be easy to be grateful for what good it for me what's been interesting starting to really appreciate the challenges to actually be grateful for my experience has cancer and to be grateful for the annoying
00:49:33says that come up during the week or certain people who I have challenges with because they're really there that is deepening my practice more than anything
00:49:42so if anyone listening was thinking about undertaking a meditation practice thinking about starting what would you tell them
00:49:51I would tell them to really reflect on how they best learn
00:49:58so very few people are autodidacts so you're likely not going to learn from just reading something and then try it yourself very few people are also self Learners in the sense of being able to self motivate so you're likely not going to succeed at a meditation practice if you just tell yourself that you're going to do it every morning on your own
00:50:23so if you tend to fall into either of those huge categories of people which is most people it's really helpful to have some way to learn from someone else not just a book the weather that's an app for going to a class and then also learn in community in some way so that can be hard cuz most people fit in meditation not a times when they're with people and me not to still have time to go to class everyday or you know multiple times a week but there are many ways to connect to people now them through various apps that have group functions or coaches involved her I know a lot of people who meditate together virtually I did that with a friend actually wanted to learn meditation after she had a health issue so just meditate with her every morning on FaceTime so finding some way to have both the instruction and also the accountability I think that's the most important thing then what style of men
00:51:23station you do or what kind I think it's less important it's really about finding the thing that works for you and then to do it and you know just set yourself up for Success don't try and meditate for 2 hours every day for you know 5 days a week but really 10 or 15 minutes is fine even 5 minutes is a great start if you can do it regularly and that way the gym metaphor is good it's like lifting weights you know you're not going to lift a hundred pounds once a week you're going to lift 10 lb for five times a week and you'll see results so damn slow and finding support that's that's what's important
00:52:06the equation that 7A mentioned really stayed with me after this interview pain times resistance equals suffering
00:52:16so much of the heartache we feel and the anxiety that the crews in our bodies is the result of this resistance of being unwilling to feel the feeling
00:52:29and I was reminded of a quotation by John Bradshaw and I discovered in one of my favorite books Eastern body Western mind
00:52:40and if he says emotions and I should note that he hyphenates the word like e - motion
00:52:48emotions are energy in motion if they are not expressed the energy is repressed as energy it has to go somewhere emotional energy losses as does all energy to deny emotion is to deny the ground and vital energy of our life
00:53:11when everything else is speeding up sitting still games new power it helps his tune into those inner voices and come back into our bodies and sit with our emotions long enough to maybe just maybe find a little clarity
00:53:34if you enjoyed this episode and you don't yet subscribe to my newsletter there's a 99.9% chance that you will like it I sent it out twice a month just like this podcast and it includes updates about my latest projects as well as a carefully curated selection of links about creativity productivity and finding more meaning
00:54:00you can sign up on the podcast website at hurry slowly. Co that's hurry slowly. Co / newsletter and now it's time for your final Moment of Zen
00:54:15how do you define creative in 10 words or less so I know you asked me for 10 words or less but I just want to say that I was journaling years ago and I realize that creative and reactive of the same words the sea just moves which I think it's really interesting and my friend Rebecca asked me what the sea is and I think that it's curiosity and Consciousness and connection and
00:54:42confidence and let me come up and receive ride
00:54:50I want to extend much appreciation for all of his hard work to my producer Matt sucich and to Devon Craig Johnson who composed our original theme music and helps out with the audio polishing if you feel like this episode changed her Outlook and he would like to leave us a review on iTunes you will have my eternal gratitude if you have 20 seconds to write one there's a link right in the bottom of the show notes as always thanks for tuning in and remember to hurry slowly

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