A gesture of kindness

October 4, 2013

tara-brachThe next time you find yourself in a bad mood, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “What is my attitude toward myself right now? Am I relating to myself with judgment … or with mindfulness, warmth, and respect?”

Typically, you’ll find that when you’re anxious, lonely, or depressed, you’re also down on yourself in some way, and that undercurrent of feeling deficient or unworthy is what’s keeping you cut off from your own aliveness, as well as your feeling of connection with others.

The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send … Read more »

Expert introduces mindfulness meditation to Montgomery Co. students, parents

October 3, 2013

Rachel Nania, WTOP, Washington: Tara Brach has been teaching meditation for more than 30 years, and on Oct. 7 she will bring her expertise and insight on the practice to students, parents and teachers in Montgomery County, Md.

“The benefit of mindfulness is so clear that it enables people to reduce stress and make decisions from a much more rational mindset,” says Brach, who is also an author and holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Brach defines mindfulness meditation as “the capacity to notice what is happening in the present moment without judgment,” and she says the practice is proven to increase concentration and reduce…

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From self-judgment to compassion

September 19, 2013

tara-brachWe were three days into a weeklong meditation retreat when one of my students, Daniel, came in to see me for his first interview. He plopped down in the chair across from me, and immediately pronounced himself The Most Judgmental Person In The World.

“Whatever I’m thinking or feeling when I meditate … I end up finding something wrong with it. During walking practice or eating, I start thinking I should be doing it better, more mindfully. When I’m doing the loving-kindness meditation, my heart feels like a cold stone.” Whenever Daniel’s back hurt while he was sitting, or whenever he got lost in thought, he’d rail at himself for being a hopeless meditator.

He … Read more »


August 15, 2013

love_is_on_the_moveNot too long ago, my ex-husband, Alex, brought us a big batch of his homemade almond butter. It is such a really delicious treat. I took a bite, and as I tasted it, I thought, “This is so good! I’m going to have some more.” And then immediately I thought, “No, I can’t have more. I’ll feel sick if I have too much.” So here I was, thinking about feeling sick in the middle of a good taste! Instead of savoring that wonderful flavor and pausing long enough to enjoy that deliciousness, my thoughts took me away from that simple pleasure.

This experience reminded me of how easily we can bypass the joy that lives … Read more »

The trance of fear

July 24, 2013

tara-brachAll of us live with fear. Whenever fear takes over, we’re caught in what I call the trance of fear. As we tense in anticipation of what may go wrong, our heart and mind contract. We forget that there are people who care about us, and about our own ability to feel spacious and openhearted. Trapped in the trance, we can experience life through the filter of fear, and when we do, the emotion becomes the core of our identity, constricting our capacity to live fully.

This trance usually begins in childhood, when we experience fear in relating to our significant others. Perhaps as an infant our crying late at night may have frustrated our … Read more »

From longing to belonging

July 17, 2013

tara-brachThe great Tibetan yogi Milarepa spent many years living in isolation in a mountain cave. As part of his spiritual practice, he began to see the contents of his mind as visible projections. His inner demons of lust, passion, and aversion would appear before him as gorgeous seductive women and terrifying wrathful monsters. In face of these temptations and horrors, rather than being overwhelmed, Milarepa would sing out, “It is wonderful you came today, you should come again tomorrow … from time to time we should converse.”

Through his years of intensive training, Milarepa learns that suffering only comes from being seduced by the demons or from trying to fight them. To discover freedom in … Read more »

Taking refuge in the Buddha

July 10, 2013

tara-brachAs a teacher I’m often asked: What does it mean in Buddhist practice when you agree to “take refuge” in the Buddha? Does this mean I need to worship the Buddha? Or pray to the Buddha? Isn’t this setting up the Buddha as “other” or some kind of god?

Traditionally, there are three fundamental refuges are where we can find genuine safety and peace, a sanctuary for our awakening heart and mind, a place to rest our human vulnerability. In their shelter, we can face and awaken from the trance of fear.

The first of these is the Buddha, or our own awakened nature. The second is the dharma (the path or the way), and … Read more »

The space between the logs

June 27, 2013

tara-brachThis 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 … Read more »

Living whole-heartedly

June 6, 2013

Love balloonThe 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 … Read more »

Riding the wave of secular meditation

Michelle Boorstein, Washington Times: As they are every Wednesday night, the little residential roads around the River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Md., were gridlocked with traffic.

Washington’s strivers were striving to chill out.

Hundreds of people were rushing to the weekly class of Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach, a therapist who has become a must-listen for many urban professionals. Inside, her calm voice fills the silence.

“What does it matter for us to be in touch with our deepest aspiration?” she says into a headset. “Was today a trance? How much was I here today?”…

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