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Audio Teaching Talks:
Library 2010

The talks below are freely available. All files are in .mp3 format - you can play them on your computer, iPod, or other .mp3 player. To download, right-click (or Control-click on the Mac) and select "Save As" or "Save Target As."

All talks below occurred Wednesday nights at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Bethesda, MD at 7:30pm.

Four Week Introduction to Meditation

Tara explored the art and science of Buddhist mindfulness and heart meditations. The series was designed to benefit new students as well as experienced practitioners who want to refresh their understanding of the core teachings and principles in meditative practice.
Listen in here! ~ See the video versions here!


Date Title Length
12/31/2010 New Year's Retreat - Friday Evening Talk: Minting Gold - Embodying the Awakened Heart - Our core conditioning expresses as both a longing for love and the pain of not trusting we are loveable. This talk explores how we create the experience of separation, and the key meditative heart- trainings that lead us to realizing and living from the truth of our connectedness.
12/29/2010 New Year's Retreat - Wednesday Evening Talk: The Path of Transformation
Awakening arises out of presence with the changing ground of our lives. This talk explores three key gateways to liberating presence: forgiveness, inner fire (aspiration) and a deep inquiry into the nature of our own mind.
12/22/2010 Special Solstice Celebration - Hear Jonathan Foust and La Sarmiento at the IMCW Guest Audio webpage.  
12/15/2010 Guided Meditation 23:02
  Seeing Beyond the Veil
The source of our suffering is that we become identified with egoic roles and defenses that separate us from the truth of what we are. This talk explores some of the constricting identities that we take on, and the process of compassionate presence that reconnects us with our natural vitality, openheartedness and wisdom. We then enlarge our focus to seeing past the veil that obscures the sacred presence that shines through all beings.
12/08/2010 Meditation on Intention 21:34
  Ask the Friend for Love
Prayer, when cultivated consciously, energizes and guides us on the spiritual path. This talk investigates the difference between wanting, with its narrow fixation, and the prayer that arises out of our deep heart's longing. We explore how living prayer, the prayer that arises from consciously inhabiting longing, can carry us home to loving presence. As John O'Donahue writes, prayer is the bridge between longing and belonging.
12/1/10 NOTE: No class on December 1 and 29. Special Solstice Celebration on December 22. "Three Paths to True Refuge" and Refuge Ceremony on January 5, 2011.  
11/24/10 Guided Meditation 25:25
  Loving Life: Gratitude and Generosity
Love is innate, and blossoms as we intentionally cultivate it. This talk on two natural expressions of loving life — gratitude and generosity — includes several guided reflections that awaken the heart.
11/17/10 Guided Meditation on Listening
(supports the talk below)
  A Listening Presence - Three Domains of Training
Cultivating the capacity for listening is essential to loving well and to realizing the truth of who we are. This talk focuses on three key facets of deep listening–non-distractedness, not-controlling and seeking to understand– that can awaken an intimacy with our inner life and others. Guided meditations on listening precede and are included within the body of the talk.
11/10/10 Guided Meditation 24:52
  Releasing Karmic Patterns
We all have conditioned patterns of thinking and behaving that keep us identified as a separate, deficient self. This talk investigates the roots of this conditioning and ways that pausing and awakening mindfulness can free us to live from our inherent love and wisdom.
11/03/2010 Part 4 - Living From Presence - Introductory Series
Our human potential is to express the wings of presence--mindfulness and lovingkindness--through all facets of daiy living. This talk explores the practices that enable us to both serve and savor this precious life. (See "Living From Presence" in video)
10/27/2010 Part 3 - Mindfulness of Thoughts - Introductory Series
The primary element in meditation is training to awaken from the trance of thoughts. This class explores two key ways that mindfulness supports this awakening. The first is using wise reflection to discern if thoughts are imprisoning us in fear or serving healing and freedom. The second is recognizing when we are in the virtual reality of thinking, and learning to "come back" to living presence. It is by inhabiting this non-conceptual presence that we have access to the love, wisdom and freedom that we cherish. (See "Mindfulness of Thoughts" in video) (En Español)
10/20/2010 Part 2 - Mindfulness of Emotions - Introductory Series
Our conditioning is to live in a reactive trance of either resisting or become possessed by strong emotions. This reactivity fuels a trance of being separate from others, and feeling defective and insecure. In this class we explore how to free ourselves from this suffering by bringing a mindful and kind awareness to the stories and feelings that make up our emotional life. (See Mindfulness of Emotions in video)
10/13/2010 Part 1 - The Art and Science of Meditation - Introductory Series
The first session defines meditation and describes the Buddhist teachings that give a context to the path of practice. We explore the two basic types of meditation--concentration and mindfulness--and then focus on the ground of mindfulness training: bringing mindful attention to the breath and bodily sensations. Guided meditations include setting intention and the sacred pause; learning to "come back" using an anchor of the breath; and "being here" with an embodied presence. (See "The Art & Science of Meditation" in video) (En Español)
10/06/2010 Meditation (Tara was on retreat this week - hope you enjoy these from 2007-10-03) 24:23
  The Path of Peace
09/29/2010 Sorry - due to a massive traffic jam, no Guided Meditation from Tara tonight - tune in next on October 13 when we are back from retreat. Enjoy the talk!  
  Loving the Earth
How is it possible that we humans have wreaked such havoc on this planet, on the web of life that we belong to? This talk explores the ways that egoic consciousness can lead to violating life, and how evolving consciousness can move us toward healing this earth.
09/22/2010 Guided Meditation 24:51
  The Power of Mindful Investigation
We each have a deep interest in reality--in understanding what is true and who we are. In Buddhist teachings, our interest, and its expression in wise investigation, energize the path of awakening. This talk explores how mindful investigation can free us from emotional suffering, nourish loving relatedness and create the conditions for deep spiritual realization.
09/15/2010 Guided Meditation 24:41
  Be All That You Are
We are conditioned to live in stories that obscure the vastness, goodness and mystery of what we are. This talk explores the ways we construct a limited self-identity and the pathways to realizing and living from a fullness of our Being.
09/08/2010 Guided Meditation 24:41
Cultivating equanimity means awakening our capacity to meet the winds of life with a non-reactive, open, balanced presence. The gift of this presence is that we can see clearly what is happening within and around us, and respond with wisdom, creativity and compassion. This talk looks at our habits of reacting, and the ways we can come home to equinimity in the midst of life's challenges.
09/01/2010 Guided Meditation 21:18
Joy is an innate capacity, one of the primary expressions of an awakened heart and mind. Yet because of our conditioned patterns of thought and emotion, this capacity for openness, happiness and full aliveness can be obscured. This talk guides us in how to nurture joy through a commited presence that unfolds into "loving what is."
08/25/2010 Guided Meditation 23:01
  Compassion - Responding to Suffering with Care
Our capacity to respond to ourselves and our world with compassion is the essence of all healing and spiritual awakening. This talk explores the trance of separation that blocks our natural compassion, and includes guided practices that enable us to directly cultivate a compassionate heart.
08/18/2010 Guided Meditation 25:46
  Metta - Lovingkindness
This talk explores what gets in the way of loving presence and the training that awakens and frees our hearts.
08/11/2010 Guided Meditation 23:22
  Blessings of a Forgiving Heart
The roots of peace and war are within these very hearts. In the moments that we release blame, we reconnect with the compassionate presence that heals ourselves and others as well. This talk includes a meditation that guides us in awakening our capacity to forgive.
08/04/2010 Guided Meditation - Gateway to Presence 10:30
Holding ourselves with a compassionate, forgiving heart is the gateway to healing, and to intimacy with our world. This talk explores our deep conditioning to be at war with ourselves, and the insights and elements of forgiving that can carry us home to loving presence.
07/28/2010 Guided Meditation 25:04
  Trusting Who We Are
If we investigate, we will find that much suffering arises out of mistrust--of ourselves, others and life. This talk explores the genesis of the great challenges of doubt and mistrust, and the pathway to trusting the goodness that is our essence.
07/21/2010 Guided Meditation 26:09
  Turning Towards What You Love
For many of us, the most apparent junctures of spiritual transformation are spurred on by challenging life situations. This talk looks at how our conscious aspiration for awakening, and our practice of mindful presence, can help us find peace, compassion and freedom when difficulties arise.
07/14/2010 Tara was away this week. Allen Lokos spoke at River Road; his talk will be posted soon on the guest audio page at  
07/07/2010 Smile Guided Meditation 25:29
  The Power of Mind
The Buddha taught that "Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind." This talk explores how our intention and attention can tap into the living awareness that is our source, and give rise to healing of body, heart and spirit.
& 06/30/2010
Tara was away, but try listening to some of the talks from 2006-2009 or on  
06/16/2010 Meditation - Sorry - due to technical difficulties, no meditation recorded this week.  
  The Fires of Loss
We all encounter the great losses of our own health and life, and of cherished others. We are conditioned to resist opening to the rawness and grief that comes with loss. This talk describes the refuge of presence in the face of loss, and the gift of timeless love that arises as we make peace with the reality of this living, dying world.

Tara references Toni Bernhard's new book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers, in this talk.
06/09/2010 Guided Meditation 19:48
  The Unreal Other
When we experience others through a conditioned lens of wants and fears, and of unexamined beliefs, we react in ways that cause distance and sometimes obvious injury. This talk explores how we create separation from others, and the ways we can awaken from this trance and live from genuine empathy and wisdom.
06/02/2010 Guided Meditation 25:09
  Part 2 - Relating Wisely with Fear
While fear is essential to survival, it can also strangle our capacity to live fully and awaken spiritually. These two talks explore how fear takes over our lives, and the ways we can train our attention to free ourselves from its grip.
05/26/2010 Guided Meditation 25:00
  Part 1 - Relating Wisely with Fear
While fear is essential to survival, it can also strangle our capacity to live fully and awaken spiritually. These two talks explore how fear takes over our lives, and the ways we can train our attention to free ourselves from its grip.
05/19/2010 Guided Meditation 25:55
  Desire and Spiritual Freedom
The Buddha taught that becoming identified with "wanting mind" obscures our true nature and binds us in suffering. This talk explores a wise attitude in relating to desire, and offers three pathways towards freedom: Mindfulness of "wanting mind," trancing back desire to its source, and radical non-clinging.
05/12/2010 Guided Meditation 23:30
  Relating Wisely to "Wanting Mind"
While desire is intrinsic to life, it can contract into the craving that traps us in suffering. This talk explores how we seek happiness yet become habituated to false refuges--substitutes like over- consuming food, dependent relationships, approval, achieving--that can never bring happiness. Our freedom becomes possible when we forgive the ways we get hooked, and offer a deep, mindful attention to the energies of craving and clinging.
05/05/2010 Anh-Houng Nguyen was the guest speaker at RRUUC on May 5th. Her talk is posted soon at the IMCW Guest Speaker page.

As Tara was away on retreat, she sent a talk to her podcast from May 2008:
My Religion is Kindness. Hope you'll enjoy it again, too.
04/28/2010 Guided Meditation 25:18
  Embodied Spirit
The Buddha taught that mindfulness of the body is a direct path to the realization of truth, to peace and freedom. This talk explores how we leave a present-centered awareness of our body, and the pathways of homecoming.
04/21/2010 Guided Meditation 24:24
  True Belonging - Refuge in Presence and Relatedness
We become homesick when our insecurity compels us to find refuge in exclusive affiliations, in over-consuming, in avoiding intimacy or grasping tightly to the approval of others. This talk explores how we come home to the truth of who we are by connecting with our moment to moment experience, and by developing the capacity to be wakeful, giving and receptive in loving relationship.
04/14/2010 Cheri Maples talked at RRUUC - you can hear her Guided Meditation and talk, "Ten Tips for Spring" at the IMCW Guest Speaker page. Please see her "Mindfulness and Justice" website at for more information about Cheri's work.

As Tara was away, she sent two talks to her podcast from April 2008:
Realizing Our Natural Joy - Part 1 and
Realizing Our Natural Joy - Part 2.
Hope you'll enjoy them again, too.
04/07/2010 Guided Meditation 24:22
  Beyond Small Self
While we are conditioned to become identified with limited sense of self, we have the capacity to recognize and open to who we are beyond the self. This talk investigates our most compelling domains of getting identified, and the ways a purposeful presence can awaken us.
03/31/2010 Guided Meditation 21:18
  Guided Meditation and Healing Trauma
Spiritual awakening often involves offering a healing presence to the suffering of post traumatic stress or deep emotional wounding. This talk explores the three key elements that support this process: self-forgiveness, accessing a source of love and safety, and bringing a kind attention to the unlived life in the body.
03/24/2010 Guided Meditation--Listening-Presence 23:34
  The Blessings of Deep Listening
Our capacity to listen deeply--to our inner life and each other--is the grounds of true understanding and love. This talk explores the challenges to listening and guidelines and practices that awaken a listening heart.
03/17/2010 Guided Meditation 25:40
  Realizing Your True Nature--Four Reflections
This talk explores a Tibetan teaching through reflection and guided meditations: Our true nature--our inherent wakefuness, openness and love--is closer than we can imagine; it is more profound than we can imagine; it is easier than we can imagine; and it is more wondrous than we can imagine.
03/10/2010 James Baraz spoke at RRUUC - listen to his talk from  
03/03/2010 Guided Meditation 24:07
  Trusting Your Basic Goodness
When we don't trust who we are, we are unable to be at home in our world. This talk explores how we come to be at war with ourselves and the pathway to realizing our basic goodness.
02/24/2010 Guided Meditation 22:34
  Living Aligned with the Heart
We suffer when our words or actions arise from unconscious wants and fears. This talk explores how we can awaken from the habitual ways we cause harm to ourselves and others, and live from our natural intelligence and tender warmth.
02/17/201 Cancelled again due to lack of parking space caused by the heavy snows! Tara asked me to post the talk for 9/24/2008 - Soul Retrieval to the podcasters. Maybe you would like it also?  
02/10/2010 Due to an overabundance of snow in the DC Metro area, we had to cancel the talk this week.  
02/03/2010 Guided Meditation - Arriving in Presence 24:29
  Deepening Practice
This talk and question/answer format addresses the attitudes and practices that cultivate our natural wisdom and compassion.
01/27/2010 Guided Meditation 22:57
  Part 2 - Presence & Aliveness
These two talks [part 1 last week] explore how we leave our bodies, the challenge of working with pain, the pathway home to embodied awareness, and the gifts of presence and aliveness.
01/20/2010 Guided Meditation 23:17
  Part 1 - Presence & Aliveness
These two talks explore how we leave our bodies, the challenge of working with pain, the pathway home to embodied awareness, and the gifts of presence and aliveness.
01/13/2010 Guided Meditation 21:57
  Awakening to the Sacred
The tendency to think "life should be different" and to try to control experience removes us from the wisdom and compassion that naturally gives rise to healing and transformation. We learn to trust the power of our heart and awareness by meeting both the pain and beauty of this life with sacred presence.
01/06/2010 Guided Meditation 21:08
  Taking Refuge
The Buddha taught of three archetypal domains in which we awaken presence and realize freedom. In contrast to our habitual false refuges, these gateways of true refuge are dependable because they express the timeless truth of what we are. This talk shines a light on false refuges, guides us in exploring the meaning of each of the three Buddhist refuges and ends in a ritual of "taking refuge."