Cover Image: Real Life

Real Life

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Real Life:  The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom by Sharon Salzberg is an inspirational book about mindfulness and how to live a real, authentic life.  I have read several books by this author now, and I have been completely encouraged by them all.  I highlighted so many different passages in this book.  Here's one of my favorites:  "Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life."  Highly recommend this beautiful, thoughtful book.  Thanks to NetGalley for the free digital review copy.  All opinions are my own.
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After the last three years of the pandemic, this sounded like just what I needed to help me process some of my feelings, and I was right. This quote sums it up: "Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life."

It felt like a hug from a good friend, one with a lot of practical advice and wisdom to share. I think anyone could benefit from reading this book at any time in their life, no matter what they're going through.
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At its core, Real Life by Sharon Salzberg is an invitation to live more expansively. The surrounding layers are anecdotes, insights from experts and tools to help us do so. Salzburg, an expert on Buddhist meditation practices and a world-renowned teacher, is the author of a number of books that live in this realm, aimed at offering Eastern wisdom to a Western culture that is often living  in a constricted state.

The idea of constriction and expansion is a Buddist concept. When we are constricted, we let our fears, anxieties, anger, resentment, doubt and sadness rule our day. However Salzberg points out that these are all components of “real life” yet we don’t have to let these negative emotions control our perspective. When we are expansive, or live expansively, we have room to experience both positive and negative emotions and to view them with openness and curiosity rather than restriction and resistance. She shows us ways to feel more expansive, including meditation, gratitude (even when you don’t feel grateful), reflection on the good, and self-respect. She also touches on the concept of community from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic and how connection can be a key ingredient in living expansively. 

I appreciated Salzberg’s take on “Real Life” and the tools and strategies she provides readers in order to experience freedom over isolation. As someone acquainted with Buddhist philosophy and meditation, I didn’t feel like there was anything new or groundbreaking here, but it serves as a timely reminder/refresher on how to live expansively after the pandemic. It was helpful to have the concepts offered with stories to inspire and strategies to implement. 

Thank you to the Netgalley, Flatiron Books and the author for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I couldn't wait to get into Sharon's latest book. She's full of knowledge and I enjoy the way she presents information based on her other books. Real Life was fantastic and it resonated with me in my post Covid world.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC for the purpose of this review. Five stars!
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To read any of Sharon Salzberg’s last few books is to sit down with a friend who has been through it all and possesses such a coherent, uplifting knowledge of life that we feel held and grateful just being in their presence. Here, she delves into how we can grow from a limiting mindset to an expansive one, with openness to all the challenges we’ll face along the way. She explores, in short, “the inner journey—and journeys—we make when we decide to fully live life, whatever the world has presented to us, knowing that life is short and also that life is sacred,” Salzberg writes. Seeded with a colorful mix of Buddhist teachings, wisdom from her Jewish background, mindfulness tools, anecdotes, quotations, and a smattering of pop culture references, Real Life succeeds in feeling deeply rooted in our lives, our real world.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having read all of Sharon Salzburg’s books, Real Life does not disappoint. 
When reading this book you feel like you are having a conversation with a friend.  The meditations are very helpful and remind us to stop and take a moment to just be and to show loving kindness to ourselves  and others.  She offers many additional resources for the reader to be able to expand their knowledge.  
This book reminds us that in this hectic world we live in that is okay to take time to slow down and take care of ourselves and become more connected with ourselves and others.
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Ms. Salzburg's books are always practical, even when explaining spiritual concepts. This one really is about real life, with musings on the pandemic, how we can deal with the routine ups and downs of our daily existences -- and the fact that everyone goes through these things, meaning none of us are alone. It's a comforting read and will be worth coming back to again and again.
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Real Life is a great book to return to again and again. I really appreciated the authors' reflections on the pandemic as well. I enjoyed the meditations as well.
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I had the opportunity to read the unpublished version of Sharon Salzberg's upcoming book set to publish April 2023. And this is by far one of my favorite books from this author. Real Life is filled with chapters that are entrenched with life lessons, memorable quotes, and reminders that are profound. It opens the reader to consider how to interpret, shape, and view daily life. The things that happen to you, for you, and everything in between. 

Written "post" the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharon does not shy away from its relevance and the way it changed people’s worlds. She allows it to be a vessel and reason to share tools to connect to self and translate that to the world around you. What I enjoyed the most about this book is the perspective & knowledge shared through conversations with experts, colleagues, and friends. All whom shared intriguing and transformative ways to free oneself of inhibitions, and define/reimagine what life feels like and looks like to you.

One of my favorite sections was in chapter 8 and it reshaped how I view the season of autumn. I can not wait for you all to read that section and many others so we can discuss how that simple conversation shifted years of perspective. The book also has an extensive meditation guide, welcoming people in all stages of the practice to use it as an aid in ones journey. 

It's truly an amazing book. It taught me so much, even to take my time reading and bask in every word  methodically and purposefully written. I felt that throughout each chapter and I will definitely be picking this up April 2023. I encourage all of you to do the same.
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While there's nothing new here, Sharon Salzberg is always someone to count on to provide wisdom and helpful reminders. Good stuff and recommended.

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
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This is the second book I've read by Sharon Salzberg, the other being Lovingkindess. I enjoy her books because they feel like letters from friends. When I read books like this, I generally take notes, and this one provided me with many useful quotes and lessons. It felt like a big hug from the author, something many of us need need right now. Life isn't always easy, but we don't have to go through it alone. Books like these are a treasure.
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"Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life."

The quote above personifies why I love Sharon Salzberg. She does not try to create an alternate reality of what life is. She doesn't feel like someone that's so far away from my life that I couldn't connect to her words. She reminds us that we get to choose how things affect us and we get to choose our spaciousness and the way we look at life. We get to choose to be full of love.

"This is what I’m calling Real Life. Real Life is about what happens when we fully engage with our everyday lives, whatever shape our lives take, whatever challenges and obstacles that life may bring."

Reading Salzberg reminds me that I can be more than I am and that I am perfect just the way I am. It reminds me that I can grow and change and be expansive. She reminds me of the power of love, the power of kindness and of being good-hearted.

“Joy is exactly what’s happening, minus our opinion of it. . . . This is freedom. Love is the ultimate expression of joy and freedom. Joy, freedom, and love could be considered synonyms for each other, and for belonging.”

Joy is my word for 2022 and as I look to 2023 and think about how to be more expansive and more open and free, I know Salzberg's words will guide me as they always do. I loved every moment I spent with this book and I expect I will read it again and again.

with gratitude to netgalley and Flatiron Books for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
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Sharon Salzberg's "Real Life" is a profound expedition into the human experience and light in the darkness leading us into more whole and compassionate selves. I highly recommend this book!
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Yet another addition to the growing body of work which opens the reader’s eyes, heart and soul. The insights, practices and lessons  are helpful, applicable and worthwhile.
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