If you feel stuck, this may be what is holding you back.

February 19, 2018 | 28 Comments

The meditation begins at 6:15.
Audio only version is here.

Hello and welcome to your meditation practice.

Each month in the Open Heart Project Sangha (the membership community within the OHP–please join!! You’re invited!!), we explore a theme. This month our theme is “renunciation.” In many wisdom traditions, renunciation is considered an essential part of the path. It is hard to devote yourself to your practice if you are overly encumbered by distractions and non-essential activities.

Renunciation has gotten an extremely bad rap. When you hear the word, you may think of punishing detox fasts, selling your television, or giving up Funyuns. While you are welcome to do any of these things, they are not what I am talking about. What I suggest instead is this: to renounce that part of your inner chatter that is constantly demeaning you. Last week, I used a phrase to describe this inner chatter that I think I may have coined: “shadow mindset.” Most of us have such a mindset. It’s that part of us that is in the background offering a running commentary of some sort. For some of us, it’s about how much we suck. For others, it’s about how much everyone else sucks. Or it could be about how untrustworthy/selfish/fake everyone is. Whatever it is, doesn’t quite matter. What DOES matter is identifying it so that you can renounce it. I’ve been working on doing so myself this month. It has been a very interesting and powerful experiment, if I may say.

Before today’s sit, I offer some additional thoughts on how to do this. And to keep the conversation, do think about joining the Sangha!  Every single a day, a different Buddhist teacher gives a 30-minute live talk on this month’s theme. It’s pretty rad.

Report back! It’s always great to hear from you.




  • Posted by:  Bryony

    This video was so helpful for me. I love that you have helped me identify that there is a “dark side” or “shadow mind” that is creating these sensations of fear and doubt. I am always tending to the negative thoughts themselves with “Don’t think that” or “Come on, get over it!” but when you have a broken record in your head, it is very hard to stop it, and it leads to quite a lot of frustration! So to be aware of the shadow mind (we all have it!)… and then try to focus on the now… this feels much more productive and helpful. I’ll experiment with it. Thank you Susan for your awesomeness.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad this was helpful. Thank you for YOUR awesomeness! And keep me posted… Love, S

  • Posted by:  Kathy

    I am having a very hard time keeping all the devastating news out of my head. I am avoiding TV news right now. There is so much sadness here in Florida, and everywhere really. Thank you for helping me to focus on this minute for now.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Yes. It is an excruciatingly painful time. It is smart to give yourself a break. We must stay strong and self-care is at the core of that. Sending love and support. I share your sadness with you. Love, Susan

      • Posted by:  Kathy

        Thank you Susan .

        • Posted by:  Susan Piver

          You are welcome! xo S

  • Posted by:  Kyle Wasserman

    Hi Susan! Don’t worry I’m not skipping school, we have the day off ? I can really relate with the part where you said “I don’t know why my mind does this; my life is actually great! It just does.” I notice a lot of the time I tend to avoid feeling, or subtly complain about little things, or hope for little things for the future. Most of the time, if I stop and look at it, it’s actually pretty silly ?. Thanks again!


    P.S just finished Zen Mind beginners mind, probably gonna start some book about music from Colorodo that I just found under my bed ?

    P.P.S Cocoa says hi ? ?

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Kyle, glad to hear you’re not skipping!! It’s so awesome that you actually stop to look at your negative/painful thoughts–and that they sort of disappear (or at least lessen) when you do. And I am so, so proud of you for finishing ZMBM–one of the best books ever… Big hug to Cocoa for me. And ask Cocoa to hug you from me! xo S

  • Posted by:  Mary Lou

    I live in Florida. Grew up near Parkland. The sadness comes in waves and at various levels. The anger is intense at times. I’ve found comfort in remembering my breath. I’ve found comfort in remembering that pain is inevitable in living but suffering is optional and that I have a choice in how I experience this sadness. I hope as I experience anger and pain that I can take actions that move us to the world that I want to live in.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Oh, Mary. I cannot imagine what it is like right now in Florida. This is a tragedy of the highest order. And there is something about your willingness to experience anger and pain that will lead to right action… Much love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Jane Olinger

    I find the concept of “shadow mindset” very helpful. Thanks for that.

    Currently I am trying to renounce the very limiting and suffering-inducing beliefs about myself that I have carried throughout my life (68 years, so a long time). Because these are related to early trauma, I need to attend to the embodied manifestations of these beliefs as well. These I don’t “renounce”, but acknowledge them and let them pass.

    Regards and congratulations on your new book!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Jane, so glad you found this helpful. Yes, acknowledge and let them pass…that is a great strategy. xo S

  • Posted by:  Jesse Combs

    Thank you once again for your honesty and vulnerability Susan as you share about your personal struggle with the “shadow mindset”. Your technique of simply coming back from it to whatever you happen to be doing at the moment is one that you’ve inspired me to more intentionally and regularly rely on. I first learned this sort of technique about 10 years ago in a weekly group session on coping with anxiety, where we simply bring ourselves back from the racing, downward spiraling thoughts to the gift of the present moment, actually narrating to ourselves in our mind each little thing we’re doing from moment to moment. While I have practiced this off and on, I tend to forget about it, especially when I’m most in need, and so thank you for reinforcing another way of working with these issues where in order to solve I need look no further than myself and my own inherent strength and awareness!

    Deeply Grateful,

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Jesse, so glad you found this useful. And also glad we are on the journey together. <3 S

  • Posted by:  Jackie

    Thank you Susan for being so real! Great information!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad it was useful! <3 S

  • Posted by:  Phyllis

    I’d love to know what “causes” this early morning feeling of general anxiety that I sometimes wake up with.. It actually wakes me up – I haven’t even been awake long enough to think about anything that might make me anxious. Maybe it’s something physiological like increased cortisol levels, but I wonder what psychological or psychic phenomenon it is. Thank you for bringing this up; it helps me feel not so alone.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You are definitely not alone. Sending love. S

  • Posted by:  Pamela Nesbit

    Thank you for this practice together.

    In Beauty,

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You are so welcome. xo S

  • Posted by:  cate edwards

    what a beautiful introduction to a meditation xxx

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Thank you!

  • Posted by:  jenny

    Oh my Susan, thank you so much for bringing this out into the light! I have a shadow mindset that kicks in when i awake and it can feel very isolating…thank you for articulating how to navigate this and for sharing so sincerely…! May we all be free from our fears <3 jenny

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Yes! Sending much love. S

  • Posted by:  Nanette Bulebosh

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear tonight after an event that left me feeling left out and lonely. As I drove home, I literally was saying to myself, “You must really suck,” and also “they all suck. They’re so phony.”

    Feeling lonely is okay and will pass. It’s the story, that dark inner voice that I’d like to identify and replace with, as you say, a simple awareness of the present moment. That’s more than enough.

    The shadow mindset – which is always so damn judgmental! – is a great thing to work on renouncing.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Nanette, so sorry to hear you had this experience. I totally get it! Very glad you had a way to work with it. Your practice is getting stronger and stronger. Much love, S

  • Posted by:  Vivien

    Dear Susan
    Thank you so much for putting out these valuable gentle and insightful teachings. Your willingness to show your own struggles and vulnerability is inspirational. I was particularly moved by the session when you were angry. I feel so reassured by your statement that in our quest to be more present mindful aware spiritual etc we do not need to ‘reject ‘ our emotionality. I so agree that we need in fact to observe our emotions more deeply and work with them. We are human after all!!
    Many blessings to you and all.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You are so welcome, Vivien. I am so happy that we can practice being human together! xo S

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