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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Space Between the Logs


This is from a poem that I love. It’s called, “Fire” by Judy Brown.


What makes a fire burn
is the space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood….



This feels like beautiful advice. It’s an invitation to pause and to find the spaces in our life that allow spirit to shine through. So, what stops us? What makes it so difficult? When we’re in a rush and feeling stressed, the hardest thing in the world is to stop. You probably know what it’s like. If you try to stop, everything in your body and your mind is still charging forward. There’s a huge, anxious, restless drive to check things off the list and tie up all loose ends. It’s really physically uncomfortable to pause!

We each have an existential hum of fear that is in the background of our daily life. We have a perception of our temporariness, that around the corner we face inevitable loss. We will lose our own bodies and minds, we will lose others who we love. This apprehension keeps us focused on defending against loss, trying to predict loss, trying in some way trying to occupy ourselves so we don’t have to face the rawness.

Our fear keeps us busily filling in the space between the logs. This trance of more to do prevents us from finding the breathing space; it keeps us from the blessings of sacred presence. When we see this, something deep within us longs to stop. This wisdom guides us to pause and touch the moment; to listen to the wind, to feel the one who is hugging us, to see the light in a dear one’s eyes. This wisdom brings us to the simplicity of the inflow and outflow of the breath. It calls to us lovingly: “Stop and come home. Find, in the space between the logs, the light that is your source.”

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)
For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

Enjoy this video on: Open Heart, Open Mind



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence


Photo credit: Kalliope Kokolis
For many of us this is a season when it feels that we are going faster and faster. Everything’s racing, through school semesters, wrapping up work commitments,  holidays; the currents of life are in full tilt.

Given the time of year, one student fell into a period of intense stress resulting from a cycle of classes, studying, working and little sleep. He didn’t realize how long he had neglected to write home until he received the following note:

 Dear Son,
 Your mother and I enjoyed your last letter. 
 Of course, we were much younger then and more impressionable.
 Love,
 Dad.

As you know, it’s not just students. Some months ago a friend described getting caught in this state busy-ness while trying to get her daughter to school. She was busy getting things ready while her daughter was trying to show her something. Every time her daughter would call her over she would say, “Just hang on a moment. I’ll be there in a second.” After several rounds of this, the little four-year old came out of her room tired of waiting. She said to her mother, hands on hips, “Why are you always so busy? What’s your name? Is it President O’mama or something?”

Along with the speediness we have the sense that there is not enough time. It’s interesting to observe how often we are living with that perception. It is usually accompanied by a squeeze of anxiety: “I’m not going to be prepared,” and a chain of insecurities. “There’s something around the corner that is going to be too much,” “I’m going to fall short,” “I won’t get something critical done.” There’s this sense that we’re on our way somewhere else and that what’s right here is not the time that matters. We’re trying to get to the point in the future when we’ve finally checked everything off our to-do list and we can rest. As long as this is our habit, we are racing toward the end of our life. We are skimming the surface, and unable to arrive in our life.

Thomas Merton describes the rush and pressure of modern life as a form of contemporary violence. He says: “…to be surrendering to too many demands, too many concerns, is to succumb to the violence.”  When we’re speeding along, we violate our own natural rhythms in a way that prevents us from listening to our inner life and being in a resonant field with others. We get tight. We get small. We override our capacity to appreciate beauty, to celebrate, to serve from the heart.

Our mindfulness practice offers us the opportunity to pause and rediscover the space of presence. When we stop charging forward and open to what’s here, there’s a radical shift in our experience of being alive. As we touch into this space of hereness, we access a wisdom, a love and a creativity that are not available when we’re on our way somewhere else.  We are home, in our aliveness and our spirit.

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)

Enjoy this talk on: The Space of Presence


For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Living Whole-Heartedly


The happiest people I know have something in common: they are whole-hearted in how they engage in their lives...whole-hearted in relating with others, in work, in meditation, and in play. They have a capacity to give themselves thoroughly to the present moment.
Yet for many, it's challenging to engage with this quality of presence. Take this personal ad  for example. It says:
Free to a good home, beautiful 6-month old male kitten, orange and caramel tabby, playful, friendly, very affectionate, ideal for family with kids.  OR handsome 32-year old husband, personable, funny, good job, but doesn't like cats.  He or the cat goes.  Call Jennifer and decide which one you'd like.
How often do we find that in our relationships, rather than loving presence, we have an agenda for someone to change, to be different? How often do we find that our insecurities prevent us from being spontaneous, or whole-heartedly engaged with friends? You might think of one important relationship and ask yourself: "What is between me and feeling fully present when I'm with this person?" Notice the fears creeping in about falling short, the urge to get your needs met, the sense of "not enough time," the wanting for your experience together to unfold a certain way!
This same conditioning plays out in all aspects of living, and it is well grounded in our evolutionary wiring. We need to manage things, to feel in control. We try to avoid disappointments, to prevent things from going wrong. 
While we have this strong conditioning, if it runs our life, we miss out. Carl Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence, psychologically, on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parents.” Unlived life happens in the moments when we're not whole-hearted, the moments when we're busy scrambling to get somewhere else, or holding back to avoid what might be painful. Unlived life is the relationships where we really don't allow ourselves to be intimate with each other, the emotion that we don't let ourselves acknowledge. Unlived life is that passion we didn't follow, the adventures we didn't let ourselves go on. Unlived life, while it happens in an attempt to avoid suffering, actually leads to suffering.
What I've noticed in myself, and when I talk with others, is that in order to be completely whole-hearted, there is a need for giving up of control. By letting go of our usual ways of holding back and protecting ourselves, we free ourselves to express our full aliveness, creativity and love. 
If we experiment with this letting go of control—if we engage wholeheartedly with each other and in our activities—our sense of being enlarges. More and more we discover the innate curiosity and care that leads to giving ourselves fully to this moment, and then this one, and again...this one. Rather than racing to the finish line, we choose, with all our heart, to be here for our life.
Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)
Enjoy this talk on Whole-Hearted Living


For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com