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Relaxing by day, Sleeping at night: Finding Inner Stillness and Ease - Tara Brach

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More than one-third of adults in the U.S. don't get enough sleep, and studies have shown that mindfulness can make a positive difference. When we effectively quiet the mind and relax the body, sleep comes naturally. By being well-rested, we are better able to respond to the demands of our lives with intelligence and kindness, resilience and grace. This guided meditation will help cultivate access to relaxed attentiveness and a pathway to ease-filled sleep.

Listen: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-relaxing-sleep/

Seeing Basic Goodness, Part I - with Tara Brach

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Most of us long to trust our goodness, but get caught in stories of deficiency and striving to affirm we’re okay. These talks look at the block to realizing the loving awareness that is our essence, and the practices that help us see this essential goodness—in ourselves, dear ones and in those we might habitually consider different or “other.” Both talks include reflections that can help us appreciate the basic goodness that lives through these precious, changing forms.

“Saints are what they are, not because their sanctity makes them
admirable to others, but because the gift of sainthood makes it possible
for them to admire everyone else.” -Thomas Merton

Listen: https://www.tarabrach.com/seeing-basic-goodness-part-1/

When the News Makes Us Miserable: Remembering A Fuller Presence and Larger Truth

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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 “…

Soul Sadness: Grieving Our Unlived Lives

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Marge, a woman in our meditation community, was in a painful standoff with her teenage son. At 15, Micky was in a downward spiral of skipping classes and using drugs, and had just been suspended for smoking marijuana on school grounds. While Marge blamed herself—she was the parent, after all—she was also furious at him.

The piercings she hadn’t approved, the lies, stale smell of cigarettes, and earphones that kept him in his own removed world—every interaction with Micky left her feeling powerless, angry, and afraid. The more she tried to take control with her criticism with “groundings” and other ways of setting limits, the more withdrawn and defiant Micky became. When she came in for a counseling session, she wanted to talk about why the entire situation was really her fault.
An attorney with a large firm, Marge felt she’d let her career get in the way of attentive parenting. She’d divorced Micky’s father when the boy was entering kindergarten and her new partner, Jan, had moved in…

De-Conditioning the Hungry Ghosts: Bringing Mindfulness and Self-Compassion to Craving and Addiction

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In Buddhist cosmology, one of the psychic domains that is described is the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts. The hungry ghost figures are depicted with scrawny little necks and huge bellies — riddled with powerful desires they can never really satisfy. Nearly everyone I know struggles with their own version of the hungry ghost syndrome.

In a very human way, desires are natural and wholesome. They are necessary for us to survive and flourish. The challenge is that, to the degree that our basic needs for safety, bonding, and a healthy sense of our value are unmet, desire contracts and we become fixated on substitutes. Whether it’s alcohol or drugs, or perfectionism, or approval, it catches and confines us. It creates tremendous pain and stops us from living from a deeper sense of presence and love.

William C. Moyers, well known for his work in the field of addiction and for his own poignant struggle with the disease, spoke at an MIT conference several years ago. He said:

"I have an illn…

Relaxing the Over-Controller: Letting Life Be Just As It Is

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We are designed through evolution to protect and further ourselves. While this is universal, if you look closely at your life, you might find that the navigating ego goes beyond the call. Have you noticed how many life moments are devoted to navigating obstacles and solving problems? How often your mind is worrying about something, anticipating what’s around the corner, preparing for what might go wrong? I call this mind-set the Over-Controller, and the more we feel threatened, the more the Over-Controller is on duty. Recognizing the Suffering of the Over-Controller The suffering comes when our effort to be in control becomes chronic and we forget who we really are. The Over-Controller is addicted to doing. An image that comes to mind is Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill and then just watching it roll down over and over again. When we’re pushing the boulder — pre-occupied, straining to get somewhere else — we forget the consciousness, the tender heart-space, that is right in ever…

The Wisdom of "It's Not My Fault": Finding Freedom When We are Caught in Self-Blame

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I sometimes think that the most basic truths are the ones that we most regularly forget, and one of them is: If we are turned on ourselves, we cannot love this life. The turning on ourselves contracts us. In those moments, we are disconnected from our inner life and from each other. We move through the day with an undercurrent of I’m not okay, but are unaware of how much it’s affecting our capacity to relax and enjoy our moments. The Second Arrow of Self-Blame In Buddhist teachings, the Buddha described two arrows. The first arrow is the natural experience that arises in this human animal that we are, for example: fear, aggression, greed, craving. The second arrow is self-aversion for the fact of the first arrow. We have the experience of being nasty, selfish or greedy, and we don’t like ourselves for that. That’s the second arrow. The Buddha says: “The first arrow hurts, why do we shoot the second arrow into us, ourselves?” And yet we do. He goes on to say: “In life, we cannot always c…