Episode 010

The Challenges of Long-Term
Love & Creative Work

with Susan Piver

Artwork by Monica_es

As entrepreneurs and creatives, we know the feeling of pouring our whole heart into our work. Of devoting all our attention to the project at hand in pursuit of something greater than ourselves. How do we balance that quest for our best work with the desire to nurture our long-term, loving relationships? How do we make room for the people we love—and love us back?

What if the qualities necessary to sustain our long-term, loving relationships are the very same qualities we use to sustain our commitment to the creative path?

On this episode of Tracking Wonder, Jeffrey is joined by Susan Piver, renowned Shambhala Buddhist teacher, New York Times bestselling author, and founder of the world’s largest virtual mindfulness community, the Open Heart Project. Susan shares the significance of bringing a constant curiosity to our loving relationships, explaining how the practice of love demands an attention not on the extraordinary, but on the familiar and ordinary. She offers insight around the four noble truths of love, the challenges of standing in love versus falling in love, and the idea of meeting instability together. Listen in to understand why long-term love doesn’t have to be in battle with one or both partners’ devotion to creative work and learn and learn how mindfulness is the practice of love.

Our Guests:

Susan Piver

Susan Piver is a New York Times bestselling author, an exceptionally skillful meditation teacher, and renowned speaker. She has penned several books, including Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation (Shambhala 2015) and the forthcoming The Four Noble Truths of Love: Buddhist Wisdom for Modern Relationships, available in June 2018. She has been a student of Buddhism since 1995, graduated from a Buddhist seminary in 2004, and was authorized to teach meditation in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage in 2005. Susan’s mission is to teach everyone how to slow down, soften our hearts, sharpen our minds, and create a life of fearlessness and authenticity.

» susanpiver.com

Instagram: @susan.piver

Key Takeaways

[3:19] Susan’s young genius

  • At best when at worst
  • Desire to connect through reading, music

[7:04] Susan’s experience being hit by a drunk driver

  • Working at Blues bar in Austin
  • Accident caused sense of unreality
  • Felt ‘between worlds’
  • Then-boyfriend infused with life force

[15:36] How Susan came to practice Buddhism

  • Moved back east after breakup
  • Extensive reading about heartbreak
  • Resonated with wisdom of strong emotion
  • Extraordinary meditation training

[21:59] Why Susan is fascinated with love

  • Confounded by way people treat each other
  • Born with sensitivity to way taken in/not

[26:28] The four noble truths of love

  • Life is suffering, relationships never stabilize
  • Grasping causes suffering
  • Cessation of suffering (offers sense of cure)
  • Path to liberate from cycle, meet instability together

[34:04] The tension between familiarity and mystery

  • Knowing of each other IS love
  • Romance ends, intimacy lives on

[45:29] The practice of conversation in long-term relationships

  • Set aside 20 minutes to ask, ‘How are you?’
  • Really listen and really answer

[51:22] The challenge of long-term relationships and creative work

  • Problem arises when want other to be different
  • One pulls for togetherness, one for individuation
  • Both important to healthy relationship, tension is useful

[1:02:20] Susan’s insight on negotiating attention

  • ‘Attention is most basic form of love’
  • Take mind out of self, place in partner’s experience

[1:03:58] The noble truths of love through music

  • “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James
  • “Blue Gardenia” by Dinah Washington
  • John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

[1:09:21] What Susan is pursuing moving forward

  • Meditation as path to love (not life hack)
  • Genuine quest for inclusiveness


Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.