Tara Brach

Every week, I hope these simple words may help you find some peace and happiness in your life. Whether it means embracing your fears, releasing some stress and anxiety or "radically accepting" yourself, may this blog invite you to find some moments to pause, breathe and nourish your heart and spirit. If you enjoy this Blog, please subscribe and share with others.
With loving blessings, Tara

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Freedom of Yes - Allowing life to be just as it is - Tara Brach

I often quote the psychologist Carl Rogers, who said, “It wasn’t until I accepted myself, just as I was, that I was free to change.” In other words, this acceptance — this recognizing what’s going on inside us and this deep unconditional tenderness — is the prerequisite to change.

Part of the practice of Radical Acceptance is knowing that, whatever arises, whatever we can’t embrace with love, imprisons us — no matter what it is. If we are at war with it, we stay in prison. It is for the freedom and healing of our own hearts, that we learn to recognize and allow our inner life.

The practice of meditation is described as having two wings: recognizing, so that you actually see what is happening in the present moment, and allowing, where whatever is seen is held with kindness — seeing what’s here and regarding it with tenderness. Saying yes.

A big challenge for saying yes to our experience is when we feel like we’re bad — like we are flawed. I can’t say yes to that. I can’t say yes to that shameful feeling — it’s too much. How do we bring the two wings alive when we’ve totally turned on ourselves or are totally at war with ourselves? When we bring these two wings to naming and then saying yes, we need to infuse the yes with a profound sense of compassion.

A minister I once worked with was in a real impasse in his marriage. His wife was so dissatisfied that she said, “If we can’t work this out, I don’t know if I can stay.” She wanted him to be more intimate, more vulnerable, not so spiritually detached. She wanted him to be able to look her in the eyes and say, “I love you.” He was very blocked and, whenever she would ask for something, it was even harder for him to feel like he could be warm and friendly. He was very defended, but he knew she was right that he was not able to be intimate.

When we started working together, he sensed, underneath the defensiveness, a very harsh critic and a huge sense of deficiency as a human-being. He felt like an imposter and felt a sense of his own hypocrisy because he preached about love, but he didn’t feel like he embodied it. He felt like he had been ambitious in his process in the ministry; he could look good and comfort people as a spiritual advisor, but couldn’t be close with people. His inner critic was saying, “You don’t deserve your position and you don’t deserve your marriage.” He felt himself sink into a deep sense of shame and aversion.

So we started exploring and bringing the two wings to that place of shame and aversion. He named what he was experiencing and allowed himself to feel it fully. Then he asked this part of himself, “What do you most need?” He immediately sensed he needed to feel forgiven: “I need to feel like God sees me and knows I’m trying.”

This was what I consider an ouch-moment, the moment when he really got his own suffering and could actually feel some tenderness towards himself. The second wing, self-compassion, was waking up.

So, this was his practice. When he was feeling stuck and incapable of being close because he was such a defective person, he’d see that, feel his shame, and whisper the words, “Forgiven, forgiven,” to the part of himself that was having a hard time. He did this over and over again, until he became increasingly at home in compassionate presence and the shame no longer occupied such a dominant part of his psyche.

It took him a number of months, but he later shared about how his relationship with his wife had changed saying that, for the first time in 26 years, “We are feeling each other’s hearts.”

He went from being caught in his sense of personal deficiency to a place of simple tenderness . . . offering himself forgiveness and feeling that tenderness of vulnerability. This is the shift in identity that each one of us experiences every time we even get a taste of these two wings. By naming our suffering and saying yes, we move from inside of the story of the defective self to an awareness that is noticing and kind.

From The Healing Time by Pesha Joyce Gertler:
“Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds. . .

those coded messages
that sent me down
the wrong street
again and again. . .

and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.” [1]
At the heart of the spiritual path is compassion, and the heart of compassion is compassion for ourselves — that we need to step out of this trance of something is wrong with me by recognizing it and responding to ourselves with kindness.

Recognizing it and saying yes to the moment…

From: Radical Acceptance Revisited – a talk given by Tara Brach.

For more blogs, talks and meditations from Tara, visit: www.tarabrach.com.

photo: Jon McRay

[1] Gertler, P. J. (2007). "The Healing Time.”  The Healing Time: Finally on My Way to Yes. Columbus, OH: Pudding House Publications.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Space Between Stories

These days we are seeing all around us a lot of turbulence, inner and outer. The tendency when we get stirred up – and this is for all humans – is to go into a kind of habitual “jungle mentality,” also known as our stress reflex. We get anxious or upset and we try to sense where we can throw blame for what’s wrong. There is a polarizing.

Mostly what we are doing when we are in stress-reactivity is trying to find certainty. We are trying to find some ground again; and everything we try to do then is, on some level, trying to frame things so we have a stable ground – something that allows us to say, “Oh, here is what’s going on!” We try to define it, as a means of regaining a sense of certainty and security – an illusion of control. Charles Eisenstein calls this place “the space between stories.” And if we grab on to the next story and act from that, then we don’t wake up.

Now, we need to act, always; we need to act in our families to take care of our loved ones, and we need to act at work, and we need to act in terms of our social consciousness to move towards healing and change. The big question is this: From what consciousness are we acting?

We want to really watch this, because there’s such a tendency to act from habitual old states of mind where we perceive hatred (for example) and we respond to it with blame, aversion and hatred of our own. So: do we want to keep the whole game on the same level? Do we want to keep re-arranging the furniture on the decks of the Titanic? Or do we want to have a real paradigm shift and wake up consciousness? How can we really bring a presence to what is going on between the stories, so we can see the future we really long for – with awareness, with love, with justice? It is how we are now that will seed the future.

Action needs to come from a more evolved consciousness; and mindfulness & compassion training is what evolves the brain. If we don’t know how to pause and deepen attention in the space between stories, we won’t connect with the very presence and compassion that can inform intelligent action. We need to pause, and be able to feel what is here. That’s not so easy – which is why we have to train in it!

For a long time I have heard the story about Gandhi, who was known to take a day each week for prayer and meditation. He said, “I need to make sure that my actions come from the deepest, most awake part of my Being.” In these turbulent times… can we give ourselves some true pauses each day to come home to our hearts?

From: Play a Greater Part – Bodhisattva for our Times – Part 1
a talk given by Tara Brach on November 16, 2016

photo: Shell Fischer – www.mindfulvalley.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tara Talks: Guided Practice - Working with Reactivity - Tara Brach

How to bring a wise, caring, transformative presence to situations that trigger irritation, judgment, hurt, defensiveness…

Watch Tara's full talk at https://www.tarabrach.com/learning-to-respond-not-react-audio-2/