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Real Change summary

Sharon Salzberg

Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World

3.9 (241 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

Real Change by Sharon Salzberg is a guide to making positive changes in yourself and the world around you. It explores mindfulness and compassion practices for overcoming difficult emotions and creating a more compassionate society.

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    Real Change
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    Practicing mindfulness can help you build the strength to fight for a better world.

    Fight, flight, or freeze. These were the choices Sari Kaufman faced one fateful morning in February 2018. You see, Sari was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and that morning, a shooter opened fire at her school.

    Luckily, Sari managed to escape the carnage – she chose flight. Yet, in the following months, Sari had to decide how to process the trauma. This time, running wasn't the right choice and neither was freezing and doing nothing. This time Sari chose to fight. She joined her classmates in organizing a nationwide campaign to end gun violence. 

    Of course, her struggle continues. But, she stays engaged despite the adversity. Sari’s dedication shows that working for a better world is possible, even under the most awful circumstances.

    The key message here is: Practicing mindfulness can help you build the strength to fight for a better world.

    Today, many people are weighed down by feelings of despair and hopelessness. And how could you blame them? Our society is rife with seemingly insurmountable problems: from climate change to an increasingly turbulent political atmosphere.

    In troubled times, there is always a temptation to turn away and disconnect. But, if we want to build a better society, fleeing and freezing won’t work; we must gather the strength to push for change. It isn’t easy, but mindfulness, and what’s known as lovingkindness meditation, can provide crucial support. Contrary to popular belief, practices like meditation aren’t about retreating from the world or pushing reality away – instead, they can build a solid foundation from which to tackle long-term struggles.

    For one thing, meditation helps your mind become more resilient against the stress that comes with political activism. Establishing a regular meditation practice supports you to clearly picture your goals and recover from setbacks. It refocuses your energy on positive actions like building community, connecting with others, and seeing beyond any immediate roadblocks.

    Try it for yourself. Take a moment to close your eyes and focus on your breath. As you feel the air move in and out of your nose, and your diaphragm expanding and contracting, observe the sensations in your body. Perhaps there is tension in your neck or unpleasant thoughts at the back of your mind. Simply note these and continue breathing. After some time, you will feel them begin to melt away.

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    What is Real Change about?

    Real Change (2020) is a guide to building a better world through cultivating inner strength. This manual teaches how meditation and mindfulness are key to navigating the stresses and pressures of modern life.

    Who should read Real Change?

    • Do-gooders burnt out from the struggle
    • Stressed caregivers looking for a break
    • Anyone interested in the benefits of meditation

    About the Author

    Sharon Salzberg is a meditation expert, spiritual instructor, and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society. She has authored several New York Times best-selling books such as Lovingkindness and Real Happiness at Work

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