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“Feel the Feelings and Drop the Story”

April 10, 2010 by · 2 comments

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s interview with Susan Piver


Susan Piver is a writer, teacher, and speaker on topics such as love, creativity, and spirituality. She is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do” and the award-winning How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life, chosen as best spiritual book of 2007 by Books for a Better Life. Susan leads Authentic Inspiration: A Retreat for Writers, a 3- or 5-day workshop specifically designed for creative flow. She has written for Body and Soul, SELF, Oprah magazine, Reader’s Digest, and the Shambhala Sun and is regularly featured in the media, including multiple appearances on Oprah, the Today show, CNN, and in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Money, and others.

Susan, your latest book, The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, was just published by Simon and Schuster. What inspired this book?

My own experience of heartbreak and, after becoming a Buddhist, learning that there are many Buddhist teachings on love and heartbreak.

What are you hoping The Wisdom of a Broken Heart will accomplish in the lives of readers?

I hope it will help people become more gentle toward themselves and others, and also to realize that when your heart is broken, it is broken open and all sorts of possibilities for cultivating compassion arise.

What is your immediate advice for readers with broken hearts?

In the words of the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron: “Feel the feelings and drop the story.”

What is your definition of a broken heart?

It is what happens when intense longing meets with the truth of impermanence.

How and when did you become interested in Buddhism?

I’ve been a Buddhist since 1995. I became interested when I read Chogyam Trungpa’s book, The Heart of the Buddha, and identified so thoroughly with its view.

Have you ever met the Dalai Lama?

Yes. At a press conference before a Mind-Life Organization Conference, where His Holiness dialogues with scientists and researchers about the nature of mind. He has been involved in such dialogues for over 10 years. I asked him if anything he had learned during that time had changed his view of Buddhanature. At first he laughed really hard. Then he said, “too soon to tell.”

What is the relationship between creativity and meditation?

Both involve simultaneous one pointed focus and panoramic awareness…

What is the relationship between writing and spirituality?

There is a way to write that solidifies your story and a way to write that liberates you from your story. Your path is to figure out which one you’re doing.

You are the author of three other books, and they are books with hard questions. Please tell us about the format of these books.

They pose questions (no answers) about topics ranging from marriage, personal life, and aging parents.

Have you always asked yourself hard questions, Susan?

I would say so, yes.

What daily practice, spiritual or otherwise, has allowed you to keep going?

Meditation practice is my anchor.

What do you wish for the readers of Public Republic?

That they be liberated from grasping, aggression, and delusion.

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