I come from the fast-paced NYC start-up world. I thought I could never show weakness. Or fear. No feelings!
But let me share a little "secret".
That's all BS.
We all get scared. We all feel alone sometimes. We all have moments of complete terror when we meet one of our heroes.
But here's the cool part ..
The moment we acknowledge it. The moment we allow ourselves to feel it. That's when everything changes.
It kind of blows my mind that I'm hosting a dinner and retreat with one of my mentors this weekend and that's it almost sold out.
Because the first time I had a chance to actually meet her, I was petrified.
I remember it like it was yesterday...
My hands were sweating. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw-up.
But I'm getting ahead of myself... let me give you some context.
I first heard about Sharon Salzberg when I was helping to run a tech company.
I was stressed out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.
I wanted to meditate but didn’t know where to start.
Every time I actually tried to do it, I thought I was doing something wrong and would just wind up getting more stressed .. and feel frustrated and stop!
I went to guided meditations all over the city but nothing felt quite right. I couldn't connect or identify with these people. I never felt "apart of."
I didn't feel surrounded by people like me - a founder, super ambitious, surrounded by other entrepreneurs who wanted to learn meditation mainly to feel sane. To stop, even for a second, the churning of my mind which swirled in circles of stress worse than a cyclone.
The teachers whose classes I attended kept talking about the luminaries of meditation in the U.S. I retained only two names: Jon Kabat Zinn for mindfulness and Sharon Salzberg for loving-kindness.
At that point in my life, I didn't feel any real "loving kindess" for myself, so I began to use Sharon's name as a "makeshift mantra" of sorts, and I would somehow always feel better once I did.
I imagined what it would be like to someday meet her and how I would feel. It brought be calm and peace. But if I'm being honest...
I didn't really think I would ever meet her. I didn’t know where she lived, but I assumed it was on a mountain, maybe somewhere in Tibet or Nepal or somewhere else where she could meditate all day and think deep thoughts. It felt really, really different from my life.
One day a friend invited me to a meditation Sharon was leading. I couldn’t believe she was in NYC! I couldn’t believe I could ever be in the same room with a teacher as famous as she was.
Heck, this was the woman who literally wrote the book on loving-kindness and is often credited with bringing compassion meditation from the East to the West and helping to make it mainstream!
I remember sitting in the back of the room, awed and humbled to be in the same room as this famous teacher. I remember she taught us six phrases we could use to practice loving-kindness meditation on our own:
“may you [or I] be happy, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease,
may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be strong.”
I loved the first three of these phrases and used them for a half hour sit with Sharon that night. Sitting, still, at the back of the room, afraid to move up or to say hi.
That evening I went back to work, as was my life as a tech founder, and I’ll never forget what happened. I answered emails from partners and from people on our team.
And I was funny! I was kind. Something had "shifted".
After this meditation with Sharon, without even trying, I was myself! I was funny and silly and light — and the next day my colleagues commented on how different my tone was in the emails they got from me that night :-)
Sharon’s phrases became my daily practice.
It was the one respite in stressful days of press interviews, meetings, calls and panic attacks (that I didn’t tell anyone about).
Then one day, when I had a panic attack and couldn’t cross the street to my office, I left my job and the company I had co-founded and took a 2.5-year trip around the world to get healthy again. To shake off the stress of running my first start-up...
As you can probably guess that’s when I really *found* meditation. I ended up studying around the world.
And I had the inspiration, on a 10-day retreat in India, to start The Path — and to bring meditation back to the US and try helping people avoid the panic attacks and burnout I had suffered living a hectic "always on the go" life for so many years.
Eventually, I was ready to go back to NYC. As a new, better version of myself. And to launch The Path community.
On our first month, my co-founder and I made a dream list of people we wanted to partner with. Sharon topped the list.
We laughed and said to each other — if we can ever do anything with Sharon, we’ll know we will have made it. And we will have accomplished our goal of offering to the next generation of change-makers — the best meditation teachers in the country.
A few months after we launched a friend invited me (yay!) to a gathering of some of the top thought leaders in meditation in the city. I saw Sharon on the invite list, too. I couldn’t believe it. I opened the door to the event and took a deep breath.
A group of people were there. Including Sharon.
My hands were sweating. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw-up. It all felt like a blur...
But within a few minutes, someone introduced us, telling Sharon that I had just started a community called The Path, and asked me to explain our concept to see what she thought.
Want to know what's so crazy about all this?
I used to be a live TV reporter. I've met some of the most famous and successful celebrities and business people in the world. I’ve given speeches to thousands of people. And yet...
I’ve never been so scared to speak in my life.
My voice trembled, and I said, “I’ve studied meditation around the world. Including your work. My partner and I believe you can put all of the types of meditation into four categories: mindfulness, mantra, energizing and meditation to help you accomplish a goal, like compassion or loving-kindness. We think all four categories are valid. And we want to teach all of them, to help people find the technique that’s best for them.”
And then I held my breath.
I was, in a word, terrified.
No one spoke.
And finally, that famous, awesome, warmth of a Sharon Salzberg smile emerged. “I like that,” she said. “That makes a lot of sense. I support what you’re doing.”
And I breathed a sigh of relief.
I came back to the gathering the next month. As did she.
We became close.
Now, two years later, Sharon is a dear friend. We know we're both night owls (shhhh), so we email funny things to each other at all hours. I helped her choose the font for her new book. And I forward her silly emails from my mom extolling the virtues of empathy :).
And yet, just last year I was terrified to ask her something once again...
We were both at the Wisdom 2.0 conference and walking to the bathroom after a session. I held my breath and asked her to lead a retreat for us.
And without hesitating — my hero, mentor and teacher said YES!
In that bathroom we closed the deal for her to lead her first retreat for The Path, last September.
It was amazing.
This year we wanted to do something cool, and she had the idea to lead a seder. I thought she was kidding but said I would call her bluff and say yes, let's do it!
She wasn't kidding. So on Friday we're doing it. She'll play rabbi and lead a "Jewish-Buddhist non-denominational vegan seder" (her name, her idea).
I couldn't be more excited for this event.
Because I know she will help you in the way she helped me. To breathe, live and love again.
And I also want to help her. I want to help bring her new book to bestseller status.
So I'm thrilled we'll have a "day of love" retreat with her about the book Saturday. And that we're asking everyone who joins to buy a copy of her book. Or two.
I WANT to help this woman who's changed my life so much for the better to get to bestseller status on her new book the week it's released. That's why we're asking people to buy books to attend the dinner and the retreat.
Sharon is one of my favorite people in the world.
On Friday I almost can’t believe I have the honor of introducing one of my life mentor’s and inspirations.
As our teacher. For the weekend. I hope you can join us and see how she can change your life for the better, just as she has changed mine.
Want to join us?
Click here to reserve one of the final spots...
and experience the "Sharon magic" yourself.