It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Tara Brach’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. The result is a distinctive voice in Western Buddhism, one that offers a wise and caring approach to freeing ourselves and society from suffering.  Over a million people each...
Tara Brach’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. The result is a distinctive voice in Western Buddhism, one that offers a wise and caring approach to freeing ourselves and society from suffering.  Over a million people each month tune in to Tara’s podcast. Her themes reveal the possibility of emotional healing and spiritual awakening through mindful, loving awareness as well as the alleviation of suffering in the larger world by practicing compassion in action. She has fostered efforts to bring principles and practices of mindfulness to issues of racial injustice, equity and inclusivity; peace; environmental sustainability, as well as to prisons and schools.

Recently, she co-founded the DC-based Meditation Teacher Training Institute to help address the growing demand for the teachings of mindfulness and compassion. In addition to numerous articles, videos, and hundreds of recorded talks, Tara is the author of the book Radical Acceptance (Bantam, 2003) and True Refuge: Finding Peace & Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (Bantam, 2013). She has a son, Narayan, and lives in Great Falls, VA, with her husband, Jonathan Foust and their dog, kd.

  

For more information, visit http://www.tarabrach.com

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Sheltering In Love (Part 1)

Sheltering In Love (Part 1) Sheltering In Love (Part 1)

During this time of pandemic, we need, more than ever, to feel our connectedness—true belonging with our own being, each other and all life.

These talks explore the bodhisattva path – practices of an awakening being dedicated to living from love. The invitation is to let this season of close-in and global suffering deepen our collective commitment to creating a more compassionate world.

Listen to the final meditation in the talk: Meditation: Embracing Life with an Open Heart (11:54 min.)

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Turning Toward Fear with RAIN

blurred-roses-behind-of-a-window-with-water-drops-picture-id1209026466 Turning Toward Fear with RAIN

Adapted from Tara’s new book –
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N. 

In a far-off land, word spread far and wide of a holy man with magic so powerful it could relieve the most severe suffering. After seekers of healing traveled through the wilderness to reach him, he’d swear them to secrecy about what was next to pass between them. Once they took the vow, the holy man asked a single question: What are you unwilling to feel?

Learning to directly face anxiety and fear with the RAIN meditation—Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture—gives you a pathway to inner transformation and a fearless heart.

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Embodied Presence (Part 1) – Planting our Roots in the Universe

roots Planting our Roots in the Universe

In describing our human predicament and dis-ease, D.H. Lawrence says we are like a great tree with our roots in the air. We need to replant ourselves—in our bodies, hearts and spirit. These two talks are guides to replanting ourselves. In Part 1, we explore how we are so often dissociated from the life of our body, and the pathways home. Part 2 looks at the challenges of pain, fear and trauma, and how we can gradually and skillfully reconnect with a wholeness of being.

One of the realizations I keep coming back to is that the portal to presence is through awareness of this living body. ~ Tara

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Trusting Who We Are (retreat talk)

scenic-view-of-borobudur-temple-at-sunrise-in-fog-picture-id1158438860 Trusting Who We Are

When we are suffering, we are believing something untrue – usually a limiting story about who we are. This talk explores the roots of our self-doubts, and the teachings and practices that remind us of our basic goodness – the loving awareness that is our source (given at the Fall 2019 IMCW 7-Day Silent Retreat – 2019-11-06).

Carlos Castaneda – the Don Juan books – puts this way. He says, “You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves.”

Sri Nisargadatta says, “Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.”

I really invite you to experiment and find the way of remembering love that warms your heart because it’ll help you trust your heart and we deep down really want to trust the goodness of our hearts.

May we trust who we are.

~ Tara

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A Brief Meditation: Gathering and Arriving in Presence (3:34 min.)

flowerr A Brief Meditation: Gathering and Arriving in Presence (3:34 min.)

A brief meditation to gather the attention, loosen and soften the body, sense your intention for being here, and feel the quality of presence of an awakening heart.

I invite you to sense what it means to you to arrive into presence.
You may take a few long deep breaths.
Just feel the movement of the breath collecting your attention.
And letting the breath resume in a natural rhythm.

Let your senses be awake so you’re listening to the sounds around you.
Listening inward so that you’re listening to and feeling the body.
As you do, you might notice the places in you that might want to let go a little bit right now.
Maybe there can be some loosening and softening in the shoulders?
Maybe you can soften your hands?
Relax down through the belly?
You can feel the breath deep in the torso.
Become aware of sensations throughout your body.
Listening to and feeling the whole moment.

Gently bringing your attention to the area around the heart.
So you can feel the heart, whatever mood is here,
And also listening inwardly for whatever longing…

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Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias

young-woman-enjoys-snowy-winter-picture-id1172741222 What You Practice Grows Stronger

Some years back, I was talking with a woman in our community. She was a breast cancer survivor and she told me about a conversation that she had with a friend who also was a survivor. Her friend asked her, “What would it feel like for you to think that something good might happen, rather than something bad?” Her response was, “Totally weird and uncomfortable. “Good,” her friend said. “Try it now.”

From an evolutionary perspective, it really makes sense that we feel uncomfortable when we envision positive things coming our way. Our brains are designed to scan for trouble and fixate on what might go wrong in any given situation. This is described as the negativity bias and it one of our hard wired survival strategies. Of course, it is a very good strategy for avoiding real danger. But, in the absence of a true threat, it limits our capacity for enjoying, and celebrating our moments. We have such a short time on planet earth. When the negativity bias rules, we get very loyal to our anxiety, mistrust and vigilance. We cannot inhabit the fullness of our lives.

In happiness research, a common denominator among those who are deemed “happy” is a sense that they are actually choosing to be happy. They believe that happiness is possible and there is a willingness to turn towards it. Catholic mystic and writer Henri Nouwen writes:

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and then keep choosing it every day.”[1]

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Saying “Yes” to Our Life - A Short Talk and Meditation

opentolife Saying “Yes” to Our Life - A Short Talk and Meditation

Our habitual ways of avoiding pain keep us from experiencing intimacy with our inner life and with each other. This short talk and guided meditation offers instruction in saying “yes” to the life we encounter. As we release resistance, we discover the creativity, wisdom and love that express our truest nature (a reflection from the archives).

Listen to the full talk: Saying “Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening.

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Belonging to Each Other

lovingeachother Belonging to Each Other

Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of loving kindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.” ― D.H. Lawrence
divider
The essence of loving kindness is this openhearted quality of friendliness. It’s sacred. It’s precious. As Mother Teresa described it, when we sense that belonging that comes with friendship, we really touch peace.

We close in that spirit to sense in your own heart the intention to befriend the life that’s within you. And take a moment to hold the life within you with the quality of care. Feel in your own words your prayer to befriend this life – to love yourself into healing.

Widening our attention to sense those in our lives – those close in, those that we don’t know, all beings – to sense that intention to discover our belonging to all of life everywhere. And in that discovery to know the joy and peace and freedom of being awake and alive. ~ Tara

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Wise Investigation: Dissolving the Trance

trance Wise Investigation: Dissolving the Trance

If we are suffering, it is because we are believing something that is not true and caught in emotional reactivity. A key tool in meditation is investigation – actively inquiring into what is happening inside us. When we investigate with sincere interest and care, the light of our attention untangles difficult emotions and nourishes intimate relationships. As this light turns toward awareness itself, it reveals the radiance and emptiness of our true nature (a favorite from the archives).

How do we take these minds of ours and investigate our experience in a way that really reveals truth? …

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The Gift of Silence: Quieting the Mind

morning_mist The Gift of Silence: Quieting the Mind

Through all spiritual traditions, there is a valuing of silence and stillness. When the mind has quieted, it becomes possible to see into the truth of what we are. Yet quieting can turn into a battle with the process of the thinking mind. This talk explores practices that allow us to settle in a natural way, the presence which is silence itself, and the wisdom and love that flows freely when we live from that silence (a favorite from the archives).

…may we all tap into the stillness and silence of our Being. ~ Tara

…perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.
~ Pablo Neruda

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Meditation: Everything Belongs

spiderweb Meditation: Everything Belongs

This guided meditation awakens an embodied presence through a body scan, and invites us to rest in the breath, while allowing the different waves of sensations, feelings and sounds to come and go. When difficult experiences arise, we breathe with them, feeling them fully and mentally whispering, “this belongs,” or “this too.” By not resisting, we discover the sea of awareness that has room for all the waves.

“…Let the breath anchor you, so you have a way to stay present…”

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Desire: A Current of Homecoming

breakingfree Desire: A Current of Homecoming

Desire is intrinsic to our aliveness, yet when we have unmet needs, it can possess us. This talk explores how to relax open the grip of wanting and heal the suffering of addiction. You will learn how to bring mindfulness and compassion to the roots of desire, and be carried home to open loving presence (a favorite from the archives).

For us addicts, recovery is more than just taking a pill or maybe getting a shot. Recovery is also about the spirit, about dealing with that hole in the soul.
~ William Moyers

You might also enjoy Tara’s online course, curated from this talk, plus several of her others: Freeing Ourselves with Mindfulness: Using mindfulness and meditation to heal harmful habits, attachments, and addictions. Register at any time. Link includes discounted price.

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How Hope Can Heal and Free Us

hope How Hope Can Heal and Free Us

The mature expression of hope includes three elements: the aspiration for manifesting our full potential, a trust that this is possible, and an energy that engages to serve this unfolding. In this talk, we explore the importance of hope on the spiritual path, its shadow side, and how we can nourish hope through these three elements in a way that serves inner freedom and the healing of our world (a special favorite from the archives).

Here’s what I’ve decided. The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for, and the most you can do is live inside that hope, not admired from a distance, but live right under it, under its roof. What I want is so simple, I almost can’t say it. Elementary kindness. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

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An Appropriate Response: Living from an Awake Heart

man-practicing-karate-on-the-grassy-horizon-at-sunset-picture-id515148008 An Appropriate Response: Living from an Awake Heart

Much of our suffering comes from reacting to stressful situations with fear or aggression, rather than responding with wisdom and care. This talk explores the pathway of shifting from reacting to responding: this includes learning to pause, awakening the wings of mindfulness and kindness, and reconnecting with our deepest intention.

From Buddhist teachings…

The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
habit hardens into character;
and character into destiny.

So watch your thoughts with care,
And let them spring forth from love
Born out of compassion for all beings.

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Compassion Towards All: Moving toward a Plant Based Diet

compassion Compassion Towards All: Moving toward a Plant Based Diet

For most of human history it’s been “normal” to eat non-human animals. This is now changing. We are awakening to the massive suffering of the billions of animals killed each day for food, the horrors of the animal-food industry, and the impact it has on climate change (second only to fossil fuels.) In this short talk Tara shares her personal story of transitioning to a vegan diet, and invites listeners to investigate, without judgment, their own choices in this domain.

NOTE: this short talk was given at a special class on “Loving Life with a Plant-Based Diet.” Tara was joined by guest speakers, Mark Tercek (The Nature Conservatory) and Brenda Sanders (Afro-Vegan Society), and hosted by Jonathan Foust. Full video available at Tara’s Facebook page and soon at IMCW.org. Evening concluded with a wonderful vegan food-tasting donated by Yes! Organic Market.

When the animals come to us,
asking for our help,
will we know what they are saying?
When the plants speak to us
in their delicate, beautiful language,
will we be able to answer them?
When the planet herself
sings to us in our dreams,
will we be able to wake ourselves,
and act?

Gary Lawless

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Forgiveness: Releasing Ourselves and Others from Aversive Blame – Part 1

solo-traveler-walking-on-a-bridge-with-arm-raised-picture-id907634620 Forgiveness: Releasing Ourselves and Others from Aversive Blame – Part 1

Rumi invites us to find the barriers we’ve erected against love, and a universal one is blame. These three talks are an invitation to relax those barriers, and to open our hearts to our inner life and to all beings. Part I focuses on chronic self-judgment; Part II on the places of deep self-condemnation, and Part III on where we have locked into anger, blame or hatred of others. Each includes guided reflections that can support us in directly awakening beyond the confining thoughts and feelings of blame.

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”
 ~ Rumi

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Embodied Presence: Portal to the Sacred - Part 1

lionpresence Embodied Presence: Portal to the Sacred - Part 1

This two part series explores how we regularly leave our body and skim life’s surface in a mental trance, and the ways we can train our attention to come home again. We look at working with physical and emotional pain, and the gifts of love, wisdom, creativity and aliveness that arise as we learn to fully inhabit these living forms and all our senses with awareness.

Be The Energy

Trust the energy that courses
through you. Trust – then take
surrender even deeper.
Be the energy.

Don’t push anything away.
Follow each sensation back to
its source and focus your awareness
there.

Be the ecstasy…

Be unafraid of consummate wonder.
Emerge so new, so vulnerable,
that you don’t know
who you are.

Be the energy,
and paradoxically,
be at peace.
Dare to be your own illumination,

And blaze a trail across
the clear night sky…..

Danna Faulds

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The Sacred Art of Listening

ears The Sacred Art of Listening

Just as presence is the heart of meditation, so deep listening is at the center of all conscious, loving relationships. This talk explores how our wants and fears block listening, ways we can deepen our capacity for listening, and the healing that unfolds when we truly feel heard by another (a special talk from the archives).

What happens when you’re really listening? 

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Shifting from Blame to Love: 3 Practices for a Wise Heart

shiftblametolove Shifting from Blame to Love: 3 Practices for a Wise Heart

Evolution has rigged all of us with a negativity bias—a survival-driven habit to scan for what’s wrong and to fixate on it. In contemporary society, a pervasive target is our own sense of unworthiness. We habitually fixate on how we’re falling short—in our relationships, our work, our appearance, our mood and behaviors. And while self-aversion is our primary reflex, we also fixate on the faults of others, how other people are letting us down, how they are wrong or bad and should be different. Whether we are focusing inwardly or outwardly, we are creating an enemy, and imprisoning ourselves in the sense of a separate, threatened self. 

While the negativity bias is a key part of our survival apparatus, when it dominates our daily life, we lose access to the more recently evolved parts of our brain that contribute to feelings of connection, empathy and wellbeing. What helps us to de-condition the negativity bias? How do we shift from limbic reactivity to “attend and befriend? Here are three ways that help us awaken our full potential for natural presence and caring.

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Realizing Your Deepest Intention

dog-at-window Realizing Your Deepest Intention

The Buddha taught that this whole life – including our thoughts, feelings and actions – arise from the tip of intention. While our intentions are usually marbled with wanting and fear, when intention comes into the light of consciousness, it unfolds into its most pure essence. This talk explores ways that when we are stuck in reactivity, we can become aware of intention, and find our way to the aspiration that expresses our most awake and loving heart.

Mary Oliver


“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

― Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day”

 

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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