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.
Blessings,
Tara

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creating an Unreal Other

It is easy to be untouched by stories we read in the newspaper, on the Internet or watch on the news about people suffering from unemployment, loss of loved ones, war or natural disasters. More and more, in our world, we have a sense of "unreal others." Unless we are really awake, we don't see the person we're reading about as a real subjective being. We don't have a sense of "the one who is looking out through those eyes or feeling with that heart." The other is not real to us, and our hearts don't respond with authentic compassion.

Only when someone is real to us and we recognize what they are living through, do we open to our natural caring and generosity.  How do "unreal others" become "real" to us? One practice that really helps us awaken is to talk with people who are different from us. We start recognizing that behind our varied masks, the one who is looking at us experiences the same fears and yearnings, the same deep, deep longing to love and to be loved. Our vehicle in recognizing this is deep listening. What happens when there’s a listening presence? When we’re fully in that listening presence, when there’s that pure quality of receptivity, we become loving presence itself. And whether you call that God or pure awareness or true nature, the boundary of inner and outer dissolves. In that open presence, the other is part of our heart, the other becomes "real". 


For more information, visit http://tarabrach.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Sacred Art of Listening - Nourishing Loving Relationships

To listen is to lean in softly
With a willingness to be changed
By what we hear         
                        Mark Nepo – Poet


What happens when there’s a listening presence? When we’re fully in that listening presence, when there’s that pure quality of receptivity, we become presence itself. And whether you call that God or pure awareness or our true nature, the boundary of inner and outer dissolves and we become a luminous field of awakeness.   When we’re in that open presence we can really respond to the life that’s here. We fall in love.

This state of listening is the precursor or the prerequisite to loving relatedness. The more you understand the state of listening-- of being able to have the sounds of rain wash through you, of receiving the sound and tone of another's voice-- the more you know about nurturing a loving relationship.

In a way it's an extremely vulnerable position. As soon as you stop planning what you’re going to say or managing what the other person’s saying, all of a sudden, there’s no control. You’re open to your own sadness, your own anger and discomfort. Listening means putting down control. It's not a small thing to do.

We spend most of our moments when someone is speaking, planning what we’re going to say, evaluating it, trying to come up with our presentation of our self, or controlling the situation.

Pure listening is a letting go of control. It's not easy and takes training. And yet it's only when we can let go of that controlling that we open up to the real purity of loving. We can’t see or understand someone in the moments that we are trying to control what they are saying or trying to impress them with what we are saying. There’s no space for that person to just unfold and be who they are. Listening and unconditionally receiving what another expresses, is an expression of love.

The bottom line is when we are listened to, we feel connected. When we’re not listened to, we feel separate. So whether it's the communicating between different tribes or religions, ethnicities, racial groups or different generations, we need to listen. The more we understand, the less we fear; the less we fear, the more we trust and the more we trust, the more love can flow.
 

Isn’t it true to that to get to know the beauty and majesty of a tree
You have to be quiet and rest in the shade of the tree?
Don’t you have to stand under the tree?
To understand anyone, you need to stand under them for a little while
What does that mean?
Its mean you have to listen to them and be quiet and take in who they are
As if from under, as if from inside out.


For more information, visit tarabrach.com.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming Home



The Buddha considered investigation to be a crucial capacity on the spiritual path.

What is this?

There’s something inside us that wants to know, truly, what’s the nature of things...
really, what am I?

What’s happening right now?

What’s that empty, silent, listening presence that’s aware?

What happens when we begin to ask questions? We become more present. In the moment that I say, “What’s going on inside of me right now?” there’s more presence.

That is the purpose of investigation. It shines the light of presence on the present moment and it allows us to become that presence...to come home.

For more information, visit http://tarabrach.com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stress & Meditation

This is the story of the magician Harry Houdini who traveled through Europe to small towns challenging local jailers to bind him in a straight jacket and lock him in a cell to see if he could escape. Over and over again, he would amaze and astonish his audiences with how he could break out of his straight jacket and cell.

But one day, he went to a small Irish village and ran into trouble because in front of a whole flock of people, be broke free of the straight jacket, but no matter what he did, he could not open the lock. Finally disappointed, the towns people left. Houdini asked the jailer about the lock trying to understand why he couldn't open it.  The jailer told him, "it was just an ordinary lock, I figured you could open anything, so I didn't bother locking it".

In other words, Houdini had been locking himself in the whole time. His assumption had been that he was locked in.

And so it is with us. We move through our day with an assumption of a problem, that there is something wrong that we have to figure out. We narrow our focus; we tense up; we get busy; we get stressed.

The Buddha said that whatever a person frequently thinks or reflects on, that will become the inclination of his or her mind. Our bodies follow right along. If we're thinking worried thoughts, our body is probably getting a steady stream of adrenaline and cortisol, keeping us physically agitated or restless.  Consider: Are your thoughts arousing a sense of kindness? of interest? of possibility? Or are your thoughts arousing a sense of tightness? separation? or discontent? In science now they say neurons that fire together, wire together, so the more frequently we have certain kinds of thoughts, the more we're going to have that inclination.
 

Meditation training, is completely radical because it gives us the potential of stepping out of this stressing trance.  We can start noticing the thoughts and have some choice as to where we want to pay attention. The message is don’t believe your thoughts!

Otherwise, we're just like Houdini fiddling with that lock and locking ourselves in our cell over and over again.


For more information, visit http://tarabrach.com.