And how to practice it in an era of intolerance

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Photo by Soroush Karimi on Unsplash

It seems that now more than ever, we’re living in the era of “us vs. them,” primed to think of others — especially those who are different or who disagree with us — as separate from and alien to us, as “other.”

We are born into communities of race, language, ethnicity, state/country/region, gender, religion…the list goes on. It is powerful to reflect upon where we anchor our sense of belonging, and whether that has largely been imposed upon us by stories others tell about us or is something we ourselves utilize for courage and self-respect. …

Forging mindful connections can be a powerful way to reduce bias

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Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Because we live in a richly diverse world in which, more and more, we depend on one another, isolating ourselves is simply not an option. “We are social creatures and need to be in relationship with others,” John A. Powell, a law professor and researcher on race at the University of California, Berkeley, told Mindful magazine. “Yet we have ways of denying our interconnectedness, dif­ferent ways of marginalizing each other. A lot of times we do things we aren’t consciously aware of. It causes suffering all around.” …

How to help others without hurting yourself

As humans, we’re wired to feel emotions — our own, but also those of others. Modern neuroscience has actually proven that we’ve evolved to feel empathy: Our brains have specific circuits that enable us to “feel with” others. Seeing someone in pain can cause us pain. Some might call it emotional intelligence, others sensitivity. Terms aside, feeling for others is actually part of our survival.

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Photo: kygp/flickr

Of course, some of us are more wired for empathy than others. Surely we all have certain friends and family members we’re more likely to call in times of need — presumably because they’re better…

Because the stories that shape us don’t have to define us

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Photo by Mario Azzi on Unsplash

As we construct our identities, we tend to reinforce certain interpretations of our experiences, such as, “No one was there for me, so I must be unlovable.” These interpretations become ingrained in our minds and validated by the heated reactions of our bodies. And so they begin to define us. We forget that we’re constantly changing and that we have the power to make and remake the story of who we are. But when we do remember, the results can be dramatic and turn our lives around.

For years, Stephanie struggled with insomnia. When she was in her early thirties…

Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and New York Times bestselling author.

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