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

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)

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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)

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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

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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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Winds of Homecoming: How Intention Frees Our Heart

Tara-Brach-Winds-of-Homecoming-How-intention-frees-our-heart

The Buddha taught that we live our lives on the tip of intention, it is the seed of our future. This talk explores the difference between “limbic” intentions driven by grasping or fear, and intentions that are the call of our awakening heart. You will learn how to identify and shift from a “limbic” to wise intention, and several different ways you can more readily and regularly access your deepest aspiration.

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Three Gateways to Peace and Freedom

Three Gateways to Peace and Freedom

This talk explores the three archetypal refuges of truth, love and awareness. We look at the outer and inner aspects of each refuge, and then through guided reflections and a Refuge Ritual, deepen our commitment to the pathways that awaken our minds and free our hearts.

NOTE: Includes a Refuge Ritual at the end of the talk – if you’d like to participate, you’ll need some red string. We use “Classic crochet thread, size 10 in red” about 36 inches per person – available at craft stores. Sing along with The Three Refuges Chant sheet. 

Your support enables us to continue to offer these talks and meditations freely. If you value them, I hope you will consider offering a donation at this time at www.tarabrach.com/donation/.

With gratitude and love, Tara 

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My Religion is Kindness – Part 2 ~

My Religion is Kindness – Part 2 ~

Authentic kindness must include the life within us. These two talks examine the movement from an armored to a free and loving heart. The first looks at how we can awaken from the trance of unworthiness and establish a genuinely caring relationship with our inner life. In the second we explore how self-kindness awakens us to the heartspace that naturally includes all of life.

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My Religion is Kindness – Part 1 ~

Tara-Brach-My-religion-is-kindness

Authentic kindness must include the life within us. These two talks examine the movement from an armored to a free and loving heart. The first looks at how we can awaken from the trance of unworthiness and establish a genuinely caring relationship with our inner life. In the second we explore how self-kindness awakens us to the heartspace that naturally includes all of life.

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A Heart That Is Ready for Anything ~

A Heart That Is Ready for Anything ~

When the Buddha was dying, he gave a final message to his beloved attendant Ananda, and to generations to come: “Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge.”

In his last words, the Buddha was urging us to see this truth: although you may search the world over trying to find it, your ultimate refuge is none other than your own being.

There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from ocean. Even when we feel most ashamed or lonely, reactive or confused, we’re never actually apart from the awakened state of our heart-mind.

This is a powerful and beautiful teaching. The Buddha was essentially saying: I’m not the only one with this light; all ordinary humans have this essential wakefulness, too. In fact, this open, loving awareness is our deepest nature. We don’t need to get somewhere or change ourselves: our true refuge is what we are. Trusting this opens us to the blessings of freedom.

Buddhist monk, Sayadaw U. Pandita describes these blessings in a wonderful way: A heart that is ready for anything. When we trust that we are the ocean, we are not afraid of the waves. We have confidence that whatever arises is workable. We don’t have to lose our life in preparation. We don’t have to defend against what’s next. We are free to live fully with what is here, and to respond wisely.

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The Gift of Silence: Quieting the Mind (audio)

silence

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.

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Power of Prayer: From Longing to Belonging (audio)

Tara-Brach-Power-of-Prayer

When we bring a full presence to prayer, it becomes a powerful pathway of homecoming. This talk explores how prayer heals the pain of separation, and offers practical guidance in what poet John O’Donohue calls “unearthing our ancient belonging.”


“What’s it like if you bow your head and whisper and call on something larger?”

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Anger: Responding, Not Reacting

Tara-Brach-Anger

Anger is natural, intelligent and necessary for surviving and flourishing. Yet when we are hooked by anger, it causes great personal and collective suffering. This talk explores how to transform patterns of reactivity by bringing a mindful and compassionate attention to the unmet needs that underlie angry reactivity. When we learn how to pause and connect honestly with our inner experience, we are then able to respond to others from our full intelligence and heart.


“Getting angry with another person is like throwing hot coals with bare hands: both people get burned.”  Buddha

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Embodied Spirit: Mindfulness of the Body

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The Buddha taught that mindfulness of the body is a direct path to the realization of truth, to peace and freedom. This talk explores how we leave a present-centered awareness of our body, and the pathways of homecoming – a favorite from the 2010 archives.

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Meditation: Saying “Yes” to Life

Tarabrach-meditation


This meditation guides us in relaxing through the body, then opening to the changing river of experience. By continually relaxing back and letting go into what is unfolding, we discover the natural vastness, wakefulness and vitality of our essential Being.


The poet Danna Faulds writes: In the shared quiet, an invitation arises like a white dove lifting from a limb and taking flight. Come and live in truth. Take your place in the flow of grace. Draw aside the veil you thought would always separate your heart from love. All you ever longed for is before you in this moment, if you dare draw in a breath and whisper “yes.”

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From Dragons to Schmoos – Meeting Life with Compassionate Presence

dragon

The trance of unworthiness is sustained by our aversion to the dragons – the difficult emotions and related behaviors that are a deeply conditioned part of the human experience. In this talk we explore the awakening that is possible as we recognize our reactive patterns and instead of judgment, offer a loving and healing presence (a favorite from the archives).

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Trusting Your Basic Goodness: Part 2

Trusting-Your-Basic-Goodness-
 

This talk continues the exploration of what causes our distrust of ourselves, others and life, and the pathways to realizing and trusting who we are. We explore the steps of awakening from limiting beliefs, dissolving the resistance to direct embodied presence, and discovering the space and tenderness – the formless dimension – that is indivisible and whole.


“How can we trust basic goodness, what lets us trust?”

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