tara-brach

Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.
—  Tara Brach
Pause and Suspend Activity

‘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: Stop 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.

Whatever you think or do regularly becomes a habit, a strongly conditioned pathway in the brain. The more you think about what can go wrong, the more your mind is primed to anticipate trouble. The more you lash out in anger, the more your body and mind are geared toward aggression. The more you think about how you might help others, the more your mind and heart are inclined to be generous. Just as weight lifting builds muscles, the way you direct your attention can strengthen anxiety, hostility, and addiction, or it can lead you to healing and awakening.
Buddhist practices offer a way of saying, ‘Hey, come back over here, reconnect.’ The only way that you’ll actually wake up and have some freedom is if you have the capacity and courage to stay with the vulnerability and the discomfort.
—  Tara Brach 
As soon as you become aware of thoughts and feelings of fear, pause for a moment and take a few full breaths. With each out-breath, see if it is possible to relax areas of obvious tension, softening through your face, letting your shoulders drop back and down, and releasing tension in your arms and hands. Now, silently offer these words to yourself:
This is the suffering of fear.
Fear is a part of being alive.
Other people experience this too … I am not alone.
May I be kind to myself … may I give myself the compassion I need.
— 

Tara Brach  

From a meditation on fear in Tara’s book, “True Refuge”

Radical Acceptance

‘Radical Acceptance is a different way of framing the Buddhist teachings of mindfulness and compassion. It is the capacity to clearly recognize our inner experience and embrace what we see with a kind heart. Radical Acceptance emphasizes a flavor of the dharma that’s especially needed at this time in our culture. We habitually reject parts of ourselves, and we judge others and make them the enemy. Befriending whatever we experience is what begins to free us.

Our basic suffering is that we have a sense of being a separate self, and the primal mood of the separate self is fear. Whenever there’s fear, we feel something’s wrong. Sometimes we aim at ourselves: Something’s wrong with me, I’m bad. That’s the trance of unworthiness, and it burdens us with shame and anxiety, depression and anger. We also project fear outward and mistrust others: You’re a threat to my existence, I need to defend myself, I need to attack you. Basically the trance of separation keeps us at war with the life inside us and with the world around us…

Radical Acceptance doesn’t mean being passive about situations that cause us stress. When we accept exactly what we’re experiencing in the present moment - if we really open up to whatever is going on in our body and heart - then we are naturally going to act now to relieve suffering, whether it’s in our personal life or in the world. And if, instead of reacting and adding more violence to the situation, we can pause and deepen our attention, we can respond from a place that cherishes life.’

- Tara Brach, From an Interview with Tricycle Magazine, Summer 2003.

Meditation Starter Pack

If you are just starting out with meditation and are not sure where to look or what to do to get started look no further. Here are some free resources for you:

Intimacy and Vulnerability

‘The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right there, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.’

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

We are uncomfortable because everything in our life keeps changing – our inner moods, our bodies, our work, the people we love, the world we live in. We can’t hold on to anything – a beautiful sunset, a sweet taste, an intimate moment with a lover, our very existence as the body/mind we call self – because all things come and go. Lacking any permanent satisfaction, we continuously need another injection of fuel, stimulation, reassurance from loved ones, medicine, exercise, and meditation. We are continually driven to become something more, to experience something else.
—  Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha