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.
There are two common fears that can block us from our full potential – fear of failure (FOF), and fear of missing out (FOMO). This talk explores how to meet these fears with mindful presence, and discover within them the essence energies of loving awareness and full aliveness (a favorite from the Archives).
Note – This talk is dedicated to Tim Ferriss, who turned me on to the phrase FOMO. Tim exemplifies the creative aliveness of FOMO energy when it’s living through someone who’s dedicated to being awake, caring and real. Check out his podcasted interview with Tara at: https://youtu.be/pXNEM4wjSmE and his podcast at fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/.
The capacity to witness what is happening inside us with a non-judging attention allows us to respond to life from our full intelligence and heart. This talk looks at the role of witnessing in spiritual practice, and how we can cultivate this superpower in a way that reveals the light or spirit that lives through all beings.
“Still, what I want in my lifeMary Oliver
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—
that the light is everything—that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.”
Living in a fear-based society fuels the trance of separation and unworthiness. This talk explores how we can bring an engaged compassionate presence to the suffering of this trance—in our inner work, and more broadly, in healing our culture (from the 2020 IMCW 7-day Silent New Year Retreat).
I must have been incredibly simple or drunk or insane to sneak in to my own house and steal money, to climb over the fence and take my own vegetables. But no more. I’ve gotten free of that ignorant fist that was pinching and twisting my secret self.
The universe and the light of the stars come through me. I am the crescent moon put up over the gate to the festival.Rumi
Strong anxiety frequently triggers fight-flight-freeze, our survival brain’s strategy for dealing with threats. This can become a trance that dominates our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and deepest experience of who we are.
This talk explores how we get caught in this reactive trance, and ways of calming anxiety and radically shifting our way of relating to the experience of threat. The gift is discovering an inner freedom in the midst of life, and the capacity to respond to what arises with love-in-action.
Spiritual hope opens us to possibility and energizes us to manifest our potential for love and wisdom. In contrast to attachment or egoic hope, which is the grasping for what will benefit a separate self, spiritual hope arises from trust in the openhearted awareness (bodhichitta) that is always and already within us. This talk explores how, as individuals and as a society, we can nourish spiritual hope, and create the grounds for healing and radical transformation.
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”
When a widespread difficulty like the coronavirus pandemic grows, it becomes important to draw on our inner strength. It is the time to pause, reflect and bring wisdom, courage and care to ourselves and those around us. We human beings have survived for a thousand generations, helping one another and inspiring each other. We know how to do this. Instead of getting caught in collective fear and anxiety, we can remember to take a breath, center ourselves, and take practical precautions and protections, but calmly and in the spirit of love. Each of us can contribute to the well-being of ourselves, our communities and our world.
As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.
Let us practice together in these difficult days so we can be that person.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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…
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.”
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.
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
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
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? …
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
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…”
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.
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
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
Designed To Move You From Survival and Fear to Safety and Peace. Available Monday - Friday. Meditation begins at 9 AM. Access early to hear Panache's monologue - around 8:30 AM.
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