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What would you like to learn about?

April 17, 2017 | 48 Comments | FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

The meditation begins at 1:19
Audio only version is here.

Hello, dear meditator. Thank you for practicing together! I am delighted that we can sit together.

As you have discovered as subscribers to the Open Heart Project newsletter, these weekly videos are almost always preceded by a short talk on something relevant to meditation practice. This week is different. Rather than giving you a talk on what I’m interested in, I ask you to let me know what you are interested in.

What would you like to know about meditation or mindfulness? What, if anything, would you like to know about Buddhism. What are you longing to have greater insight about? What is happening in your life that I might be able to help with? The entire point of the OHP is to be of benefit, so please don’t hesitate to let us know what is on your mind.

Please give it some thought and then use the comment box below to share your ideas, questions, suggestions. But first: meditate!

With love,




  • Posted by:  Susan Devore

    I had a wonderful marriage and lost my husband to m.s. I really want another relationship, a spiritual one of course, like I had with him, but so many old doubts and fears are coming up that I had thought were laid to rest. So I know I need a meditation practice, and I’m trying to find a therapist I can afford, but can you recommend any practices to help me keep this in perspective? I just turned 70, and got burned out spending the last 7 years as his caregiver, so mostly I fight the feeling like my life is over. Namaste.

    • Posted by:  Els Verstraelen

      Dear Susan. It touches me a lot to read you. Maybe you should meet other people who practice? Spend some time in a meditation retreat? I am sure this can give you a lot of love and support. I take you with me in my meditations. Love, Els

    • Posted by:  Anett

      Dear Susan Devore, take your time .Today talking with a 90 year old man these days and he told me his secret ..he learned it from childhood .. his mother had to work father was gone .. so with age 10 years he learned everything … no he is slowly and simple . They do still everything as they can for themselves e.g cooking .And they are happy ! I love beeing with my eldery ones .. their wisdom is for me like a flower blooming! Love to you .. take good care all the best!

    • Posted by:  Kathy

      Sending prayers and hugs for you Susan. You are not alone.

  • Posted by:  Marsha

    Thank you for asking! 🙂 Recently, I’m experiencing anxiety and know that regular meditation helps, but am wondering if there are specific ways or techniques that help to ease the anxious mind and body.

  • Posted by:  Emile

    Dear Susan,

    What I would like to hear about is how to be able to have mercy with all the
    people who suffer from terroristic horror. And in what way.


    • Posted by:  Sherryl Gibbs

      Hi Susan

      I have the same thoughts as Emile. I really want to open myself up and just radiate love and compassion and empathy towards the whole world… but honestly, with the state that the world is in now, it terrifies me to the core and makes me want to fold into myself–frozen in inaction.

      As far as here in New Zealand, we receive the horrifying stories of hatred that emanate from the States (like: the man who shot his ex and killed an 8-y.o. in the process, the 78-y.o. man who was gunned randomly by a psychopath and streamed via Facebook LIVE, a trigger-happy president happy to nuke others out of fierce emotion rather than through an informed decision). Talk about butterfly-effect. All these seems to ripple throughout the globe, leaving all of us holding our breaths in utter suspense and dread.

      Then, on a personal level, I survived and came out of a relationship where my empathy and forgiveness was abused. Admittedly, I was ignorant (naive) and delusional (in love), but in my defense, when one commits to another person, it is in the assumption that the other person is normal and has a conscience.

      I can see all these scary things do stem from ignorance, hatred, and delusion. But I am confused on a practical level as to how one can follow the path of a bodhisattva yet still be able to balance an outward love for others and an inward love (and protection) for oneself. What compounds the issue is that it seems that ignorance, hatred and delusion starts as early as childhood (sometimes in the form of pathology, in others perhaps formed from dogmatic beliefs). Some say we have come into the Age of Aquarius (enlightenment); others say we have gone into the Age of Entitlement (narcissism). Thinking of all these makes me feel helpless and ineffective.

      Any insights?


  • Posted by:  FAITH Palmer

    Dear Susan,

    Marsha’s comment resonated. I have a history of anxiety and moderate to severe panic attacks. Anything you can offer to assist with these feelings would be terrific. Specific chants, prayers, mantras??

    most grateful for all you do

    • Posted by:  Sherryl Gibbs

      Hello Faith

      Apologies, I’m aware your question was directed for Susan and I feel that I trespass by butting in.

      However, like you I suffer from anxiety (possibly because of wonky brain chemicals: serotonin, dopamine or what-not) and when I’m really scared or anxious I take refuge in the Sho Sai Myo Kichigo Dharani which goes like this:

      No mo san man da moto nan oha ra chi koto sha sono nan
      to ji to en gya gya gya ki gya ki un nun shifu ra shifu ra
      hara shifu ra hara shifu ra chishu sa chishu sa chishu ri
      chishu ri sowa ja sowa ja sen chi gya shiri ei somo ko

      I don’t quite know what it means but I find the rhythm very soothing. It’s from Zen Buddhism, where I got this. I’m told it’s a ‘disaster-preventing’ dharani so I’ve memorized it and chant it whenever I feel like a jumble of nerves and about to have a heart attack.

      And, also, like you, I’m also keen what Susans thoughts on this are.

      Thanks and regards

  • Posted by:  Mary Tracy

    I would like to know if it’s possible to get “stuck” in the world of spirituality and refuse to engage with the “real” world.
    I started my practices years ago, when my life was in chaos, because I wanted my life to take certain “shape” (job, partner, maybe children). But the Universe has said “NO!” to everything I ever wanted, and now I have no dreams left. I wonder, in short, if it’s possible to “let go” too much.

  • Posted by:  Mary Lou

    I find the following concepts fascinating and helpful, when I’m able to understand enough to practice or at least remember. I’m interested in your guidance regarding:
    No fixed self
    Dissatisfaction/ suffering
    Spinning stressful stories- that make thins worse
    Basically learning that pain is inevitable while suffering is optional. I’ve come to believe this, but practicing and living it is taking time.

  • Posted by:  Anett

    First it is interesting how fast are 10 min when sitting. Time seems to change sometimes it is very long when I am sleepy or very fast like today. If you could help me with the change when this bardo of live change to the next one and this body is gone how to be with the breath and what practice is helpfull in transission. When the elements desolve one into the other how can we support this change with mindfullness and meditation?

    How can I take part in the OHP when i am not able to connect through internet – like accident is there a way to make sure we are always connected and support each other?

    Tonight i was dreaming of a vivid strong beautiful white horse – a man was try to beat it running behind it and it came to me to be protected .. suddenly I asked the man what he wants – and that the horse will stay with us now! The horse helped me to get on it and we fly together over the earth so fast it was i felt refreshed ! Like a windhorse! This dream feels powerfull – I wish to know more about dreams and visions in Buddhist philosophy if this would be possible.. thank you!

  • Posted by:  Jill Wasserman

    Thank you for all pf your talks Susan! I feel like there are so many times where it is exactly what I need to hear! I agree with James, I feel like sometimes I get kinda lazy with practice during the school week. Thanks!


  • Posted by:  Paul

    Tonglen. Tonglen. And more tonglen! 🙂

    • Posted by:  Rose Ann

      Indeed Paul! Tonglen

  • Posted by:  Valerie Tate

    Hi Susan — I would love to know how you would talk about Buddhism to a Christian who wants to understand the experience of non-duality, no self, and/or enlightenment in comparison to own their efforts towards a mystical union of all things in Christ… in which the person becomes “oned with God”… as Julian of Norwich expressed it.

  • Posted by:  Kim

    I’ve been meditating regularly now for 6 years. It has changed my life and made me a much calmer, more aware person.

    However, I am having a really hard time lately and I can’t seem to get my head around it. I’m an American and have a hard time reconciling peace within myself when there is so many horrible things happening, or about to happen. Reading the news brings a new horror nearly every single day. I don’t recognize the country I call home.

    I don’t watch the news, I read it. But I can’t not read it because I refuse to be uninformed, and I have children who need me to be able to talk to them about the world. Ignorance is not an option.

    I know one of the principles of Buddhism is “the opposite of what you know is also true”. I can’t apply that to 2017 America. It’s causing me so much unrest.

    I’d love to hear any thoughts or advice.

  • Posted by:  Kathryn Parmeter

    I want to find a way to focus on lessening sadness. I meditate every morning but my life is without joy and full of many stressors. I feel stuck in a life with no purpose and can’t see the way through to more happiness.

    What can I do?

  • Posted by:  Carmelita Cabello

    Susan, I hesitate to ask for specific topics because I find that you usually talk about something I needed to hear. Look forward to your thoughts everyday. Thanks for practicing with me.

  • Posted by:  Bee

    I would like to know about emptiness. I feel like I understand it, but when I get there and face it, I find it terrifying. Like there is no ‘anchor’ from me to the world. Like it is the last great attachment, and to let go would be to disintegrate. Is it something in me I need to let go of? Is it a ‘normal’ reaction to be afraid of this at first? How to get to the other side of this fear? Is there really peace on the other side?
    Thank You.

  • Posted by:  Bee

    I would like to know about ’emptiness’. I feel like I understand it, but when I get there, I find it terrifying. Like there is no anchor from me to the world, and to let go would be to disintegrate. Like it is the last great attachment. Is it something in me that I need to let go of? How to get to the other side of this fear? Is there really peace on the other side? Is it normal to be afraid of this at first?
    Thank you.

  • Posted by:  Carole

    I would like to know if you combine the latest neuroscience research results with ancient wisdom on meditation?
    I would like to know why in the ’70’s I was trained to close my eyes during Transcendental Meditation and now you say to keep the eyes softly open.

  • Posted by:  Melissa

    Thank you for this sacred offering, for your guidance and wisdom on the meditation path. I know you have spoken about this repeatedly, but anxiety/worry/doubt continue to plague me. Wondering if you would be willing to share reflections about how to work with anxiety when it appears as a constant companion? I also believe you may have publicly mentioned suffering migraines. Wondering how you tend yourself during one (as they are also regularly cycling through my life)? Appreciate your insights.

  • Posted by:  Jacqui Genereux

    As an overthinker I struggle with thinking that occurs when I meditate. Somedays there seems to be alot and it can be a challenge to stay focused on my breath. I wonder too at times how do I differentiate between being mindful and over thinking.
    Thank you for the OHP, it is a wonderful gift.

  • Posted by:  Alexandria

    I am reading your wonderful book “How not to be afraid of your own life.” I’m working very hard to learn to be present and embrace uncertainty. A review on this topic of coping with fear and negative fantasizing/worrying would be wonderful.

  • Posted by:  Kathy

    Hi Susan, Thank you for asking. I am working on ‘addiction’…to sugar! So any words of wisdom from Buddhist philosophy on willpower/intention/discipline…would be greatly appreciated!

  • Posted by:  Brigitt

    Dear Susan,

    will you please talk about the difference between the fear that’s driven by negative down talk, your inner critic, versus the fear that is exciting, but scary, catalytic, and transformational, when you challenge yourself in new territory?

    Thank you,

    • Posted by:  Edina

      Brigitt’s question resonates deeply with me too. I feel as though my life is driven more by fear than by seeking any well though out purpose (with the exception of supporting loved ones around me.) I would also like to hear more on the Buddhist philosophy of harnessing inner energy and channeling it in a positive direction while letting go of fear, doubt, and self-criticism.

      Thank you for all of your insightful teachings, Susan!

  • Posted by:  Kathy Sievers

    I live with chronic pain–migraine. I would love to hear more about easing pain with mindfulness. Also about self care dealing with chronic pain.

  • Posted by:  Betsy Loeb

    Thank you for creating this opportunity to ask you of our interests/questions?

    I try to mediate daily for about 20 min. Schedule is not as issue since I’m retired. It’s more that I hang on to this attitude of I need to be DOING. So I struggle. I know you’ve spoken (& many others, too) on how to “be motivated” to keep up the daily practice. Can you speak more about that?

    Also, since I’ve been meditating for about 6 years, should I add a second time? If so, should it include any contemplation of the how the day went?

    Thank you. I so appreciate your helpful words, and your gentle ways of leading meditation practice.

  • Posted by:  Albert Cooper

    Do you ever use mantras in your meditation?

  • Posted by:  Ann Van Dyke

    Thanks for your calming meditations. It helps to have guidance. I wonder about many things but some include: How to approach anxiety both on and off the cushion, how to know which “flavor” of Buddhist practice is the right one for me, is it okay to practice meditation without beliefs, is it necessary to have a teacher and if so, how to find the right one.

  • Posted by:  Jean Anderson

    My question is mundane … how to practice with distractions. I have an adorable kitten who is now 13 months old and weighs 11 pounds. My morning practice is catnip. He howls if I lock him out of the room. In the room, he dances around me and rubs up against me until he eventually curls up in my lap to sleep. Just now watching your wonderful video, he was head butting the laptop before he proceeded to head butt me in the chin. This will change, he will grow up and mellow out. This time while he is young is precious, but he is ever so distracting. Any suggestions?

  • Posted by:  Kati

    It is so easy to recognize the buddhanature in the other persons but not in myself. How to overcome such contradiction? I have been meditating some years and as a result I see the other’s buddhanature more and more clearly in everyday life, but within myself… no improvement, not the slightest change.

  • Posted by:  Ashley

    This seems like a superficial question, compared to the questions others would like addressed, but having developed a pretty steady meditation habit, I’m now interested in buying a meditation cushion and am baffled by all the options: benches, cushions, mats in various heights and sizes… and while I’m happy to invest in this important part of my life, I don’t want to make an expensive mistake.

    For the past year, I’ve been using other pillows & cushions around the house, sometimes stacking them, sometimes not, sometimes sitting in a chair. I don’t really have a preference about how to sit, which posture I like the most, etc. but I now feel drawn to the idea of having a dedicated space in my house, just for meditation… I’m just not sure how to choose my setup. Thanks for any guidance you can offer!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Not superficial! Very important to have the right seat. And you’re right, it’s not inexpensive.

      If you’re comfortable sitting on a cushion, the most common choice is between a zafu (which is round) or a gomden (which is rectangular). Each is often purchased with a zabuton or meditation cushion, which can be useful if you sit on a hardwood or cement floor. If your space is carpeted, it might not be necessary.

      Many people use gomdens but I find them uncomfortable. They are too high for me. I use a zafu. Samadhi Cushions makes high quality zafus and gomdens. I would call them and ask what they suggest.

      Most people sit on cushions although some prefer a kneeling bench. This is most helpful if sitting on the floor is painful or if you have trouble sitting up straight while on the floor. Ask Samadhi for advice!

      Hope this helps.

      • Posted by:  Ashley

        Very helpful! Thanks so much.

  • Posted by:  Gary Peters

    I would like you to devote a session or two to guiding us in a contemplative meditation.

  • Posted by:  Valerie

    I would like more instruction on how to live you practice OFF the cushion – meditation life at work (when working in a place you don’t want to be), meditation life in complicated interpersonal relationships. How to bring that peace from the 10 minute sit into the rest of your life. Thanks!

  • Posted by:  Pamela Nesbit

    Inner strength of hope and how to listen with awakeness and creativity for that hope in how the universe is unfolding.

  • Posted by:  Terri

    Hello Susan, thank you for your thoughtful words and guidance. I see many good requests above and would like to add several more. Could you talk more sbout letting go of tension in the body. I can let go of tension with yoga but struggle during a meditation. Also if you guidance on how to handle tinitus. The ringing continues getting louder and is constant. I am sad how it is affecting my hearing, my ability to hear others, learn languages and that it will probably continue to worsen. According to doctors there is no cure. I don’t want to appear selfish because this is minor compared to so many conditions others suffer. I am trying to lovingly accept this change and not let it be the focal point. Usually I can let it be, however there are times i cannot. Thank you asking.

  • Posted by:  Rhoda J Lewis

    Thank you for asking. I’m also struggling with bringing mindfulness into the rest of my life, off the cushion. I am also an overthinker (someone said that above), so I’ve been going around and around in circles when I’m “out in the world”. It’s like I’m overthinking being present, and it’s taking me out of the present. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s exhausting.

  • Posted by:  Isa

    Hello Susan, hello dear fellow meditators
    I started my meditation practice in a period of big stress for a mother when children are starting to fly off and sometimes could not even sit more than one or even three minutes.but I kept coming back. Now i sit twice a day for 15-20 minutes each time. I was lucky to find you almost at the beginning of my practice and it helped me by its simplicity. Feeling good just because I was able to sit with my back strong and straight and my eyes open.
    I also heard but dont remember if you or another said it : we meditate to become good at life not to become good at meditation.. I love meditating and am glad that I dont have to struggle to sit. I have many challenges still but this time is precious.
    My question is what do you do when your body start to itch or a knee or hip or back start to burn and hurt. Thank you Susan for being here for us all with your true humanity and generosity.
    Big hello from Nyon in Switzerland. Isa

  • Posted by:  CORINNE DATHY

    Dear Susan
    Thank you for asking.
    What I would like to know more is about how to live our life free of fear. How to develop and cultivate a Shambala warrior mindset and how to set the meditation practice to get there.
    THANK YOU so much for your generosity in relentlessly and so kindly sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

  • Posted by:  Laura

    This happened today actually. This may not be what you are looking for but…
    What to do about interruptions? Outside it can be people going by inside it can be the phone. Do you start over or continue where you are?

    • Posted by:  Eileen Lohrer

      I was told that this then becomes the practice.

  • Posted by:  bernice wong

    Thank you Susan for great introduction to meditation and Buddhism and for being there as a constant source of support and information no matter how little or much time to obtain, absorb and practice it. Since I do not have much time to study more I appreciate the bits and I pieces I can catch from you and the daily dharma gathering. I would love to improve presence and insight into what is needed to help and heal my patients and those around me.

  • Posted by:  Eileen Lohrer

    Help needed with second hindrance. Anger, aversion, Ill will judgement..etc… how to not react to annoying stuff I cannot change. Like dog neglect, trash, waste…..in my neighborhood.

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