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. As an undergraduate at Clark University, Tara pursued a double major in psychology and political science. During this time, while working as a grass roots organizer for tenants’ rights, she also began attending yoga classes and exploring Eastern approaches to inner transformation. After college, she lived for ten years in an ashram—a spiritual community—where she practiced and taught both yoga and concentrative meditation. When she left the ashram and attended her first Buddhist Insight Meditation retreat, led by Joseph Goldstein, she realized she was home. “I had found wisdom teachings and practices that train the heart and mind in unconditional and loving presence,” she explains. “I knew that this was a path of true freedom.” Over the following years, Tara earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Fielding Institute, with a dissertation exploring meditation as a therapeutic modality in treating addiction. She went on to complete a five-year Buddhist teacher training program at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, under the guidance of Jack Kornfield. Working as both a psychotherapist and a meditation teacher, she found herself naturally blending these two powerful traditions—introducing meditation to her therapy clients and sharing western psychological insights with meditation students. This synthesis has evolved, in more recent years, into Tara’s groundbreaking work in training psychotherapists to integrate mindfulness strategies into their clinical work. In 1998, Tara founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW), which is now one of the largest and most dynamic non-residential meditation centers in the United States. She gives presentations, teaches classes, offers workshops, and leads silent meditation retreats at IMCW and at conferences and retreat centers in the United States and Europe. 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.

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

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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

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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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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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Radical Self-Honesty: The Joy of Getting Real –

Radical Self-Honesty: The Joy of Getting Real

Our suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt, resisted parts of our psyche. This talk explores ways we can deepen self-honesty and reconnect to a wholeness of being that enables us to live with spontaneity, confidence, wisdom and love.

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Stories That Imprison Our Heart – Part 2 –

Stories That Imprison Our Heart – Part 2 –

Our suffering arises from fear-based stories that are often outside our awareness. These include stories of our deficiency or importance, of being a victim, of being unseen or unloved, of facing failure or rejection.  This is true collectively too.  We have shared stories of bad “others” that fuel wars, shared stories of the value of continued growth in consumption and production that destroy our earth, shared stories of our human right to enslave and violate other animals. We have the capacity to bring the stories that separate and imprison us into the light of awareness, and with great compassion, loosen their grip. These two talks look at the ways fear-based stories create suffering, and how awakening from them reveals the freedom of our true, and universal, belonging.

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Stories That Imprison Our Heart – Part 1 –

Stories That Imprison Our Heart – Part 1

Our suffering arises from fear-based stories that are often outside our awareness. These include stories of our deficiency or importance, of being a victim, of being unseen or unloved, of facing failure or rejection.  This is true collectively too.  We have shared stories of bad “others” that fuel wars, shared stories of the value of continued growth in consumption and production that destroy our earth, shared stories of our human right to enslave and violate other animals. We have the capacity to bring the stories that separate and imprison us into the light of awareness, and with great compassion, loosen their grip. These two talks look at the ways fear-based stories create suffering, and how awakening from them reveals the freedom of our true, and universal, belonging.

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Discovering the Gold: Remembering Our True Nature by Cultivating Mindfulness and Compassion

 Discovering the Gold: Remembering Our True Nature by Cultivating Mindfulness and Compassion

I remember when I was on a book tour for Radical Acceptance, one of the places I stopped was the Buddhist university, Naropa, and they had a big poster with a big picture of me and, underneath the photo, the caption was: Something is wrong with me.

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Radical Compassion – Part 2

image: Sonnenstrahl/Pixabay.com

Compassion is the medicine we most need as individuals and a species to heal suffering and free our spirits. The essence of compassion for ourselves and others – what I call Radical Compassion – has three key elements: it is an embodied experience (a felt sense of tenderness), it is inclusive all beings, and it naturally moves us to act from a caring heart. This two-part talk explores the alchemy of Radical Compassion and guides us in awakening this intrinsic expression of our evolutionary potential.

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Radical Compassion – Part 1 –

Radical Compassion - Part 1
Compassion is the medicine we most need as individuals and a species to heal suffering and free our spirits. The essence of compassion for ourselves and others – what I call Radical Compassion – has three key elements: it is an embodied experience (a felt sense of tenderness), it is inclusive all beings, and it naturally moves us to act from a caring heart. This two-part talk explores the alchemy of Radical Compassion and guides us in awakening this intrinsic expression of our evolutionary potential.
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Taking ‘The Exquisite Risk:’ An Undefended Heart

Taking ‘The Exquisite Risk:’ An Undefended Heart

Poet Mark Nepo uses the phrase “exquisite risk” to describe our willingness to be fully alive, open, available,  living true to our heart. This talk explores the challenges and blessings of taking the exquisite risk, both in becoming more intimate with our inner life, and in engaging with others from full authenticity.

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Ask the Friend for Love – exploring living prayer

Ask the Friend for Love – exploring living prayer

Prayer, when cultivated consciously, energizes and guides us on the spiritual path. This talk investigates the difference between wanting, with its narrow fixation, and the prayer that arises out of our deep heart’s longing. We explore how living prayer, the prayer that arises from consciously inhabiting longing, can carry us home to loving presence. As John O’Donahue writes, prayer is the bridge between longing and belonging. ~ (a favorite talk from 2010).

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