329: Mark Nepo on Connecting to What Matters


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By Eric Zimmer|Wondery. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Mark Nepo is a poet, philosopher and cancer survivor who has taught in the fields of poetry, health, and spirituality for 40 years. Mark is a New York Times #1 selling author who has published numerous books and audio projects. In this episode, Eric and Mark discuss his book, The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters. This episode is a tonic to the suffering that we are facing right now in the midst of a pandemic. This conversation offers some of the most liberating wisdom that, when connected to, releases us from the grip of fear so that we are living from a place of presence, peace, and connecting to what matters.

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In This Interview, Mark Nepo and I discuss Connecting to What Matters and…

  • His new book, The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters
  • The value in cooperating, listening and working with things (rather than trying to bend them to our will)
  • That “sin”, as literally translated, is the same as “opaque” or, “not seeing”
  • That when we lose sight of the vastness to which we belong, succumbing to our narrow condition, we paint everything with the color of our trouble
  • How the surface of the ocean is what’s choppy and as we go down below the surface, we connect with the depth that is less tumultuous
  • “Rightsizing” our perspective on troubles by putting them in a larger perspective of vastness and wholeness
  • How to move at the pace of what is real: synchronizing the moving pace of mind, heart, and body
  • That the power of reading out loud is like the difference between reading sheet music and hearing it in our heads vs. actually playing the music
  • That we meditate not to be great meditators, but to be clear vessels
  • How we’ve become “addicted to the noise of things falling apart”
  • That things are always simultaneously falling apart and coming together
  • We are challenged to honor what we’re going through while at the same time remembering that what we’re going through doesn’t define us
  • Asking “What is actually happening?” so we might identify right action
  • Waiting for the cloud of fear to pass so that you can decipher what is actually dangerous
  • How in the modern world we have catastrophized our relationship to the unknown
  • That the unknown can produce love and beauty just as it can produce difficulty and hardships
  • The truth that there is no “there”, there’s only “here”
  • That often, when you can’t leave a difficult situation, you realize that everything you need is right here
  • The menacing assumption that life is somewhere other than where we are
  • That out of fear, we make a god of survival. But without thriving, what’s the point?

Mark Nepo Links:





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If you enjoyed this conversation with Mark Nepo on Connecting to What Matters,you might also enjoy these other episodes:

Mark Nepo (2016 Interview)

Lama Surya Das

Sharon Salzberg

417 episodes