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

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

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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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4

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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2

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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2

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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4

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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2

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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4

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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Basic Trust – Part 1

Basic Trust – Part 1

One of the expressions of an awakened heart-mind is a basic trust in reality. These talks explore the severed belonging that gives rise to mistrust, and two primary pathways to realizing and trusting the indivisible field of loving awareness that is our source (a favorite from the archives).


“To love without holding back – to really sense with the wisdom, the reality, that it’s right here – to live from wholeness. We have this capacity.”


“Who would you be if you trusted the basic goodness and beauty is living through you? How would your life be different if you trusted that spirit, love, awareness is what you are?”

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True Resilience – Part 2: Awakening through All Circumstances

True Resilience – Part 2: Awakening through All Circumstances

Spiritual resilience enables us to deepen compassion and wisdom as we navigate life’s difficulties. In this two part series, we will look at the conditions that incline us towards or away from True Resilience, and explore practical and powerful practices that nourish this precious capacity.

“The hard times are what move us to become who we really are. We grow through the tough stuff if we are willing to be present. Whatever is arising, without exception, can be a portal to awakening and freedom. If you deepen your attention to the waves, how might it awaken and free you?”

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True Resilience – Awakening through All Circumstances – Part 1

True Resilience – Awakening through All Circumstances – Part 1

Spiritual resilience enables us to deepen compassion and wisdom as we navigate life’s difficulties. In this two part series, we will look at the conditions that incline us towards or away from True Resilience, and explore practical and powerful practices that nourish this precious capacity.

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Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part 3: A Mirror

Photo: Pixaby.com

This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature.

From the talk: “These are three qualities often described as the essence of awareness: wakeful, open, tender.”

And a blessing:
May all beings everywhere remember and trust the loving awareness that is our source.
May all beings everywhere live in natural and great peace.
May we touch true joy in living.
May all beings everywhere awaken and be free.”

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Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part 2: Inner Fire

Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part 2: Inner Fire
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This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature.

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1

Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part I: Forgiveness

Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part I: Forgiveness

This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature.

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