tara-brach

Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap. The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.
—  Tara Brach, “True Refuge”
With an undefended heart, we can fall in love with life over and over every day. We can become children of wonder, grateful to be walking on earth, grateful to belong with each other and to all of creation. We can find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath.
—  Tara Brach 
Suspend Activity: Pause

‘Learning to pause is the first step of Radical Acceptance. A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving toward any goal… The pause can occur in the midst of almost any activity and can last for an instant, for hours or for seasons of our life… We may pause in the midst of meditation to let go of thoughts and reawaken our breath. We may pause by stepping out of daily life to go on a retreat or to spend time in nature or to take a sabbatical… You might try it now: Step reading and sit there, doing “no thing,” and simply notice what you are experiencing.’

- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.

“Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing, and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.”

―Tara Brach, BREATHING OUT: OFFERING OUR CARE: Transforming suffering, from the Spring issue 2013, “Spirit in the World.”

Photography Credt: Film Still from Wings of Desire, by Wim Wenders, 1987. Watch the trailer at Criterion.

Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing, and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. We can remember to say our blessings out loud.
— 

Tara Brach,

BREATHING OUT: OFFERING OUR CARE

Forgiving Others: Not Pushing Anyone Out Of Our Heart

‘Like every part of living, forgiving has its own natural process of unfolding. Often we are not ready to forgive ourselves, not able to forgive someone who has injured us. We can’t will ourselves to forgive - forgiving is a product not of effort but of openness. This is why the intention to forgive is such a key element in the process. To be willing but not quite ready to forgive holds the door open a crack.

Having the courage not to push anyone out of our heart is difficult enough when we’ve been harmed by someone we know. But as spiritual warriors our intention not to give up on anyone may be most severely tested when we are deeply violated by someone with whom we have no loving ties. How do we forgive a stranger who rapes our daughter, a political terrorist who kills our friend with a bomb?

A student at one of my meditation retreats told me of her struggle to forgive the man who left her son unable to walk for life. One evening she had picked up Brian from a bar mitzvah class, and on the way home a drunk driver crossed over the median and struck their car. She suffered minor injuries, but Brian was pinned to the ground when their car turned over, his legs crushed. Forgiveness was a long and painful process. Thousands of times she felt the burn of anger and the anguish of a loss storm through her. She also felt the hardening of her heart when hatred wanted to take over. Knowing that the only way to find her way back to love and freedom would be from forgiveness, she took on the intention to forgive the man. Gradually over the years, as she allowed the feelings to course through her, forgiving them as they arose, her heart widened to include him. Without knowing any particulars, she knew he too suffered. She knew he had not intended to cause them pain. Eventually, by remembering the goodness of all beings, she opened to hold him with a forgiving heart.

We maintain the intention to forgive because we understand that not forgiving hardens and imprisons our heart. If we feel hatred towards anyone, we remain chained to the sufferings of the past and cannot find genuine peace. We forgive for the freedom of our own heart.’

- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance, Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame Within Us.

Lovingkindness

‘The Buddha taught that no other spiritual practice has the value of lovingkindness. He said, “Lovingkindness, which is freedom of the heart, absorbs them all; it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.” As we practice sending wishes for happiness and peace to ourselves and to others, we touch the beauty and purity of out true nature. The practice of lovingkindness enables us to move through life more awake to the goodness within and around us.’

-Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance, Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame Within Us.

Basic Meditations:

Guided Meditation - “Loving This Life - Happiness (Metta Practice)”

16:3008/27/2014Guided Meditation: Space and Aliveness

24:4508/20/2014Guided Meditation: Emptiness Dancing

26:2008/13/2014Guided Meditation: Coming Home to Being (a favorite from the archives)

21:1808/06/2014Guided Meditation: Entrusting Yourself to the Waves

26:5107/30/2014Guided Meditation: Embodied Awareness

24:3107/23/2014Guided Meditation: Coming Home to Your Breath

26:0307/09/2014Guided Meditation: Awake, Relaxed and Open

28:1107/02/2014Guided Meditation: Relaxing Back

23:1806/18/2014Guided Meditation: Resting as Awareness

26:2406/11/2014Guided Meditation: Stand Still (standing meditation with instructions included)

25:0406/04/2014Guided Meditation: Letting Life Live through You

27:3005/28/2014Guided Meditation: Dedicated to Maya Angelou: Being at Home

23:2505/14/2014Guided Meditation: Vipassana Instructions

26:0304/30/2014Guided Meditation: Relaxing Back into Wakeful Openness 

22:0504/23/2014Guided Meditation: Listening to and Feeling the Moment 

23:1904/16/2014Guided Meditation: Breath as Homebase 

26:5204/09/2014Guided Meditation: Living Presence 

25:0204/02/2014Guided Meditation: Connecting with Aliveness and Openness 

25:3703/26/2014Guided Meditation: Relaxing into Presence 

Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again and again.
—  Tara Brach,
Realizing Our Nature as Both Emptiness and Love

‘In Mahayana Buddhism, the open, wakeful emptiness of awareness is our absolute nature. Our original nature is changeless, unconditioned, timeless and pure. When we bring this awareness to the relative world of form, love awakens. We meet the ever-changing stream of life - this living, dying, breathing world - with accepting presence and our hearts invariably open. What our mind recognizes as empty awareness, our heart experiences as love.

Our being resides in both the unmanifest and the manifest, the absolute and the relative. This truth, embodied in the Heart Sutra, is a considered gem of Mahayana teachings. As the sutra says: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is also form. Emptiness is not other than form, form is no other than emptiness.” The formless ocean of awareness gives rise to the varying and endless waves of life: emotions, trees, people, stars. Seeing that all life springs from one awareness, we realize our connectedness and feel the fullness of love. In cherishing all living beings with compassion, we recognize the empty, wakeful awareness that is our common source.

Loving life and realizing our essence as formless awareness cannot be separated from each other. As a Japanese proverb expresses, “Seeing pure awareness without engaging lovingly with our life is a daydream. Living in this relative world without vision is a nightmare.” We can be tempted, sometimes in pursuit of nonattachment, to distance ourselves from the messy wildness of our bodies and emotions, and from our relationships with each other. This pulling away leaves us in a disembodied daydream that is not grounded in awareness of our living world. On the other hand, if we immerse ourselves in the mental dramas and changing emotions of our lives without remembering the empty, wakeful awareness that is our original nature, we get lost in the nightmare of identifying as a separate, suffering self.’

- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance, Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame Within Us.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns… We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.
—  Tara Brach
I think the reason Buddhism and Western psychology are so compatible is that Western psychology helps to identify the stories and the patterns in our personal lives, but what Buddhist awareness training does is it actually allows the person to develop skills to stay in what’s going on.
—  Tara Brach