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 mont...h 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 www.facebook.com/tarabrach www.youtube.com/tarabrach blog.tarabrach.com/ twitter.com/tarabrach tarabrach.libsyn.com/ (podcast) eepurl.com/6YfI (sign up for email list) More

Part 2: Vulnerability, Intimacy, & Spiritual Awakening

spritualawakenting Part 2: Vulnerability, Intimacy, & Spiritual Awakening

We each live with uncertainty and the fear of rejection and loss, and we each are conditioned to avoid feeling or expressing that vulnerability. Yet intimacy with this unlived life is the gateway to connecting authentically with others, full aliveness and spiritual realization. These talks explore the ways that we defend ourselves, and the pathway to gently, wisely and intelligently disarming and freeing our hearts. (a special talk from the archives)

Listen to the first part: Part 1: Vulnerability, Intimacy, & Spiritual Awakening

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of deepening the truths they can tell each other. It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation. – Adrienne Rich

At our pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down.  With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom, we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.

Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

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Part 1: Vulnerability, Intimacy, & Spiritual Awakening

dragon Part 1: Vulnerability, Intimacy, & Spiritual Awakening

We each live with uncertainty and the fear of rejection and loss, and we each are conditioned to avoid feeling or expressing that vulnerability. Yet intimacy with this unlived life is the gateway to connecting authentically with others, full aliveness and spiritual realization. These talks explore the ways that we defend ourselves, and the pathway to gently, wisely and intelligently disarming and freeing our hearts (a favorite from the archives).



Tara Brach, Eckhart Tolle, Van Jones and more in this 10 day Free online Event. 



If I’m not free to fail, I’m not free to take risks, and everything in life that’s worth doing involves a willingness to take a risk. – Madeleine L’Engle

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. – Rainer Maria Rilke

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Healing Depression with Meditation – Part 1

man-with-a-cup-of-cappuccino-with-a-sad-face-picture-id901912720 Healing Depression with Meditation – Part 1

Most people get depressed at times, and many suffer greatly from bouts of major depression. At the heart of the suffering is the experience of severed belonging—of being imprisoned in the pain of separation, unworthiness, unlovability and hopelessness. These two talks explore several meditation practices that reconnect us with our natural aliveness, open heartedness and awareness. They empower us to develop our inner resources, energize us to awaken, free us from rumination and remind us that we are not our depressive thoughts and feelings. The growing realization of the loving awareness that is our home heals the very roots of depression.

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Saying “Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening

yes-picture-id147317901 Saying “Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening

Our habitual ways of avoiding unpleasant experience keep us from intimacy with our inner life and with each other. This talk helps us recognize these often unconscious patterns that keep us identified with a separate, threatened self, and offers guidance in saying “yes” to the life we encounter. As we release resistance, we discover the creativity, wisdom and love that express our unbound, true, nature.

Listen to the accompanying meditation: Saying “Yes” to Life.

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What Is It Like Being You?

dogquestion What Is It Like Being You?

Compassion is hard wired in our organism, and can be cultivated. This talk helps us identify the blocks to compassion—our outmoded survival equipment—and using RAIN, offers practical guidance in mindfully attuning to others’ emotional experience and awakening our natural tenderness and care. This talk includes a short introduction to the meditation: The RAIN of Compassion.

Empathy is the ability to feel what other people feel… compassion includes empathy, and it also has the quality of caring and concern that wants to help. Compassion means “to suffer together,” but it is really defined by a quivering of the heart that wants to help…

Compassion is our evolutionary potential. We have a capacity for affiliative care, to tune in to each other and to care about each other. And, really, this capacity is the hope of our world…

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Looking Through the Eyes of Another – Transforming Separation into Shared Consciousness

eyes Looking Through the Eyes of Another – Transforming Separation into Shared Consciousness

I often talk about how suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt parts of ourselves. Only when we become aware of what is here and bring presence to what we have been running from can we discover wholeness and freedom.

The same is true when we explore our relationships to each other and the world. We cannot be free if we are pushing anyone out of our hearts. If we are discounting, rejecting, or turning away, we are not living from our wholeness. It creates suffering. When we live in resentment, we have separated ourselves and pulled away from our belonging.

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Short Talk & Meditation: Forgiving and Freeing Our Hearts

cupped-hands-holding-spring-violet-flowers-in-heart-shape-picture-id655101628 Forgiving and Freeing Our Hearts

Forgiveness for others becomes possible when we’ve held our own being with great compassion. This short talk and guided meditation brings forth our most awake and tender presence as we ask for forgiveness, offer care to the woundedness within us, and then extend forgiveness to another who has hurt us. (from the Spring 2018 IMCW 7-day Silent Retreat)

Join Tara in a 10-day online course on forgiveness available through Insight Timer: Free Yourself From Blame & Resentment.

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What You Practice Grows Stronger: Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias

What You Practice Grows Stronger: Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias What You Practice Grows Stronger: Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias

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.

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From Human Doing to Human Being – Part 1

From Human Doing to Human Being – Part 1 From Human Doing to Human Being – Part 1

Like Sisyphus eternally pushing the boulder up the hill, we can spend many moments busily trying to manage our life. This two-part talk explores how we can awaken from our non-stop doing, including the incessant inner narrative, and discover the mystery, love and freedom that arises in Being.

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 2

redheartahnds Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 2

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

Think of some of the people you like and are drawn to you.

Now attempt to look at each of them as if you were seeing them for the first time, not allowing yourself to be influenced by your past knowledge or experience of them, whether good or bad.

Look for things in them that you may have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.

Anthony de Mello
from “The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello”  

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Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 1

children sharing Seeing Basic Goodness – Part 1

Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re ok. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness – in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

“Saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible for them to admire everyone else.” -Thomas Merton

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Eating Addiction: How Meditation Helps Free Us (audio)

Eating Addiction: How Meditation Helps Free Us Eating Addiction: How Meditation Helps Free Us

Buddhist psychology views clinging as the source of suffering, and one of the great domains of clinging is compulsive overeating. For most of us the causes and conditions for compulsive overeating existed before we were born, during our early childhood, and in our surrounding society. We begin to release shame and self-aversion by realizing we are not alone in this suffering; and eating addiction is not “our fault.” The talk includes an exploration of how, through RAIN, we can bring mindfulness and self-compassion to compulsive eating, giving us more choice in our behavior. Ultimately we discover that this deep prison of suffering can become a portal to realizing the freedom our true nature.

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Namaste: Seeing the Truth of Who We Are

tara-brach-seeing-the-truth-of-who-we-are Namaste: Seeing the Truth of Who We Are

A gift of evolving consciousness is the capacity to recognize and honor the sacred awareness that lives through our own and all beings. This capacity is blocked by our identification with our “mask” or ego self, and not seeing past other people’s masks. In this talk we reflect together on some key filters of superior/inferior and good/bad that shape the trance of a narrowed identity, and then explore how mindfulness and kindness free us to inhabit the vastness of our natural awareness. We close with tasting the possibility of bringing the spirit of Namaste to ourselves, others and all beings.


Rumi writes: ““Are you searching for your true self? Then come out of your own prison. Leave the little creek and join the mighty river that flows into the ocean. Like an ox, don’t pull the wheel of this world on your back. Take off the burden. Whirl and circle, and rise above the wheel of the world. There is another view.”

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Trusting Who We Are (audio)

tara-brach-trusting-who-we-are

The sign of spiritual freedom is a deep trust in our essential nature, and in the light of awareness that lives through all beings.  This talk explores the conditioning that entraps us in a trance of separation and believing in a limited self.  We then explore the evolutionary shift in identity that is possible as we deepen our attention and presence to the life that is here, and the loving awareness that is the source of existence.

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Meditation and Short Talk: Basic Elements of a Mindfulness Meditation Sitting (audio)

tara-brach-mindfulness-meditation

This short talk and guided meditation offers an overview of what many people find is a natural unfolding within a meditation sitting. It includes the process of arriving in an embodied presence, learning how to come back from thoughts, and then opening the attention mindfully to the changing flow of experience. The meditation provides generous space between prompts for practice.

This is a recording from the morning instructions and sit at the 2017 IMCW New Year retreat.

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Compassion – Part 2 of Present Heart: The Universal Expressions of Love (video)

tara-brach-compassion-part-2-of-a-present-heart

Part 2: Compassion – the tender resonance of heart – awakens as we allow ourselves to be touched by our shared vulnerability.

This series reflects on four primary expressions of an awake, wise heart: lovingkindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. In each talk we explore the habitual patterning that blocks our full realization of these innate capacities, and the understandings and practices that nurture their unfolding.

From the talk:

When you witness vulnerability, really feel it in you – let yourself be touched – and when the tenderness comes, when the real visceral tenderness comes, feel it for 15 seconds, 20 seconds, and let yourself marinate in the feeling of tenderness.

As we begin to get more tender and to look and to respond, it’s contagious to people around us. They get touched and then they act that way more. Just the way there’s limbic contagion when people are angry or upset, there’s compassion contagion.

“Just Like You”
(Inspired by the Dalai Lama)
Walk gently on this earth with purposeful steps
You share this space with seven billion human beings
And countless other precious life forms
Just like you
They all want to be happy
Just like you
They all need love
We’re not going to survive unless we walk
Gently on this earth together,
Until we touch something in others that 
Feels just like the shards of our own pain,
The fluttering warmth of our own joy,
Until we sew their wounds into our hearts
And seal it with our own skin
~ Anon

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Lovingkindness – Part 1 of Present Heart: The Universal Expressions of Love (video)

Tara-Brach-Present-Heart-Lovingkindness

Part 1: Lovingkindness – We awaken our natural lovingkindness by learning to attend to and take in the goodness of this life.

This series reflects on four primary expressions of an awake, wise heart: lovingkindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. In each talk we explore the habitual patterning that blocks our full realization of these innate capacities, and the understandings and practices that nurture their unfolding.

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The Winds of Love: Taking Refuge in Conscious Relationship

tara-brach-Winds-of-Love

 

Years ago, in Arizona, scientists embarked on an experiment to learn how to replicate the Earth’s ecosystems in a closed ecological system. In the Biosphere experiment, a huge glass dome was constructed with everything needed to sustain life within the structure. The scientists lived inside the Bio-dome for two years and, for a number of reasons, the experiment didn’t work out very well. But one of the main reasons was that the trees wouldn’t grow to maturity. As it turned out, when designing the Bio-dome, the scientists didn’t account for the absence of wind. What they learned was, that without enough wind to develop their heartwood, trees cannot grow.

In the same way, we need the winds of the relational field to grow and wake up our hearts. Whether we are enjoying a gentle breeze, or riding out the high winds of a hurricane, we need it all in order to discover our full potential for loving. There are two powerful ways that the winds of relationship can awaken us—sharing our vulnerability and seeing the good in each other.

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When the News Makes Us Miserable: Remembering a Fuller Presence and Larger Truth

When the News Makes Us Miserable: Remembering a Fuller Presence and Larger Truth

People ask me regularly about how spiritual practice can guide us in responding to the state of our society. They tell me that while the teachings of compassion are alive and helpful in other parts of their lives, they seem out of reach when they read the headlines each day. In a recent e-mail from one of our DC community Spiritual Friends groups, members asked:

  • How do we stay compassionate when it feels like so much harm is being caused to vulnerable people?
  • Isn’t acceptance a kind of complacency? Isn’t “letting go” like condoning?
  • How do we call on meditation practice when we’ve become fearful, angry and disheartened at the hatefulness and viciousness that is so evident in our society?


I’ve had many waves of anger, fear and aversion in reaction to the harm being perpetrated in our society. In my own practice, it helps to keep starting right where I am, not judging my own reactions, thinking “I shouldn’t feel this.” Rather than trying to let go of these feelings, I often reflect that “this belongs,” it’s the inner weather of the moment. Then I can feel the fear or aversion with acceptance and kindness.

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Freedom from Othering: Undoing the Myths that Imprison Us – Part 1 ~ (audio)

tara-brach-freedom-from-the-myths-that-imprison-us

A primary source of our suffering is the conditioning to create “bad other,” or “inferior other.” This same conditioning leads us to creating a bad self and turn on ourselves. These three talks explore how we subscribe to societal myths and beliefs that perpetuate this “bad othering,” and “bad selfing.” They then guide us in bringing a healing attention that can reveal the goodness that lives through all beings, and our innate connectedness. A core teaching is, “the boundary to who we include in our hearts is the boundary to our freedom.”

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