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Teaching Talks: 2011


The talks below are freely available. All audio 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."

Most of the talks below were given at Wednesday nights at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Bethesda, MD at 7:30pm.

Featured talks:

"True Refuge" - Insights at the Edge - Tami Simon of SoundsTrue inteviews Tara on January 18, 2011

Tara was interviewed for the “Talk with Francesca” radio show (talkwithfrancesca.com). It was aired on January 1, 2012 at Boston’s WWZN radio. Here’s the recording and Francesca’s comment (below).

Visit "New to Meditation"

Find resources on "How to Meditate", two "Introduction to Meditation" series in audio and video, Guided Meditations, talks on Dealing with Stress and Fear, Culivating Compassion and more.

Date Title Length
1/1/2012 Talk with Francesca Show
Tara was recently interviewed for the “Talk with Francesca” radio show (talkwithfrancesca.com). It was aired on January 1, 2012 at Boston’s WWZN radio. Here’s the recording now and Francesca’s comment: "Today I interviewed Tara Brach, author of "Radical Acceptance." A brilliant woman, she explained how to end the trance to suffering and pain. It's not that we don't or won't feel pain, however, we can hurt a whole lot less if we would just allow ourselves to accept life exactly as it is rather than fighting it, changing it and reworking things to avoid what needs to be processed. Meditation and mindfulness is key to getting there. Her book is a favorite....a must have for those who want to come home to ourselves."
23:40
12/29/2011 Tara was teaching at the IMCW 2011-12 New Year's Retreat this week. Below is a link to her talk from the retreat.  
  The Blessings of Embodied Presence (Audio)
All that we cherish - love, creativity, wisdom and aliveness - becomes available when we come home to an embodied presence. This talk looks at how the two wings of mindfulness and compassion guide us in the midst of difficulty to our inner sanctuary of freedom.
57:27
12/21/2011 Guided Meditation 23:56
  No Mud No Lotus (Audio)
Our attitude in the face of life's challenges determines our suffering or our freedom. This solstice talk explores the light of compassion that blossoms when we honor our difficult times with a deep, mindful attention. This solstice evening includes chanting, singing and a candlelighting ceremony.

Dharma: The Musical - La Sarmiento (7:31 minutes)
La performs three dharma spoof songs for the 2011 IMCW Solstice Celebration. The first - "Waking Up is Hard to Do" - is about the delusion that suffering is easier than the effort it takes to wake up. The second - "Let it go, Let it go, Let it go" (written by Maureen Brady of the Snowflower Sangha in Madison, WI) - is about the practice of holiday equanimity. And the third - "My Mind's Prison Blues" - is a summary of the dharma and practice in the spirit of Johnny Cash. (Lyrics for 1st and 3rd songs by La Sarmiento).
54:48
12/14/2011 Guided Meditation 24:47
  The Dance of Relational Trance (Audio)
When we become emotionally reactive in our relationships, we often go into a trance that creates separation and locks us into a narrow sense of self. This talk explores how, by pausing and deepening our attention, we can reconnect with the wisdom of our hearts. (See "The Dance of Relational Trance" in video.)
54:07
12/07/2011 Guided Meditation - Being Here 23:40
  The Backward Step (Audio)
Our habit is to think we are on our way someplace else, and that our happiness is to be found outside ourselves. Yet realization becomes possible when we take the backward step into the formless dimension of our own being. This talk explores the two pathways that awaken us from our stories of self and reveal the love and awareness that is our true nature. (See "The Backward Step" in video.)
54:23
11/30/11 NOTE: No class on November 30. The church needed the sanctuary for its annual fundraising sale. Enjoy this classic talk from 8/26/2009:  
  Genuine Acceptance (Audio)
Our capacity to accept this life is key to our freedom, yet there are many misconceptions about acceptance: People wonder, if acceptance makes us a doormat in relationships? Isn't acceptance akin to resignation? Doesn't it make us passive when what is needed is action? This talk explores some of the misunderstandings about acceptance and offers teachings on the nature of genuine and liberating acceptance.

You might like to visit "Tara's Talks" - a new a web series on YouTube hosted by Tara that offers bits of timeless wisdom in short videos to help provide freedom and perhaps relieve stress and anxiety in our very busy lives.
47:17
11/23/2011 Guided Meditation - Portal to Presence 23:25
  Pathways to a Grateful Heart (Audio)
When we are filled with gratitude, we are living from the most sincere, awake part of our being. This talk explores three pathways of practice that open us to serving and savoring this life.
57:49
11/16/2011 Guided Meditation 22:12
  Mindful Speech (Audio)
Deception, gossip and aggressive speech are pervasive in our culture. This talk looks at the roots of these forms of communication, and the way they entrap us in a contracted and separate sense of self. We then explore the practices that help us speak from a courageous presence, wisdom and love. (See "Mindful Speech" in video.)
1:00:45
11/09/2011 Guided Meditation - Discovering Inner Space
By imagining the space inside the body, we discover the continuous space of awareness that is the source and essence of all aliveness.
29:21
  The Space of Presence (Audio)
The perception of "there's not enough time or space" in life blocks our natural capacity for intimacy, creativity and wisdom. Pausing and connecting with the space of presence transforms our entire experience of being alive. This talk explores the pathways that reveal the space that is always here, the awake and loving space of our own awareness. (See "The Space of Presence" in video.)
49:54
11/02/2011 Guided Meditation 25:37
  Divine Abodes: Equanimity (Audio)
Equanimity is the mental state of balance and non-reactivity that arises when we are resting in open, wakeful presence. This talk reviews the key pathways to equanimity in the face of difficulty. We also explore the blessing of equanimity: the freedom to respond to our life with wisdom, compassion and love. (See "Divine Abodes: Equanimity" in video.)
55:18
10/26/2011 Smile Meditation - Embracing Life 26:02
  Divine Abodes: Joy (Audio)
Joy is an innate capacity, an expression of unconditional presence with life. Yet for many, it is blocked by our conditioning to grasp after life and to defend against loss. This talk explores how we can develop the selfless presence that allows for joy, and nourish that joy so it blossoms in our life. (See "Divine Abodes: Joy in video.)
59:12
10/19/2011 Guided Meditation - Notice and Pause 24:31
  Divine Abodes: Compassion (Audio)
We cultivate compassion by letting ourselves be touched by the suffering within and around us. Because our conditioning is to avoid vulnerability, the path of compassion requires courage and purposefulness. As we awaken to the truth of our connectedness, our hearts become increasingly tender and our actions serve the healing of our world. (See "Divine Abodes: Compassion" in video.)
56:25
10/10/2011 Guided Heart Meditation - Forgiveness Practice
(from the Fall IMCW Retreat at Reisterstown, MD)
30:50
10/08/2011 Unconditional Love for the Life Within (Audio)
(Retreat Talk - IMCW Fall Retreat at Reisterstown, MD)
The tyranny of "should" prevents us from living and loving fully. This talk explores how we get trapped in the identity of a flawed self and the ways a wise attention can free us.
1:00:46
10/05/2011 Guided Meditation 24:32
  Divine Abodes: Lovingkindness (Audio)
Love is the most basic expression of who we are, and yet it is often obscured by the trance of separation and fear. This talk explores how we habitually armor our hearts, and the training of attention that awakens us to unconditional, all inclusive love. A classic form of the metta (lovingkindness) meditation is part of the talk. (See "Divine Abodes: Lovingkindness" in video.)
1:00:50
09/28/2011 Guided Meditation With the Rain 27:52
  Causing No Harm (Audio)
The mindstates behind violence--anger and fear--are universal and natural. If they possess us and drive our actions, we suffer. If we learn to meet them with a mindful awareness--if we step out of judgment and angry reactivity--we serve our own freedom and the possibility of peace on earth as well. (See "Causing No Harm" in Video.)
54:43
09/21/2011 Guided Meditation 23:58
  Part 2 - Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself? (audio)
Parts 1 & 2 - Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself? (video)
These two classes cover the basic instructions for Buddhist mindfulness (vipassana or insight) meditation. The first class explores the attitude we bring to meditation that makes it rewarding, and the training that helps us in "coming back" from thoughts. The second class guides us in "being here," in cultivating a mindful awareness that recognizes and accepts what is happening in the present moment. Both classes include guided meditations and valuable reminders that can support you in developing a rich meditation practice.
55:06
09/14/2011 Guided Meditation 23:01
  Part 1 - Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself (audio)
Parts 1 & 2 - Do You Make Regular Visits to Yourself? (video)
These two classes cover the basic instructions for Buddhist mindfulness (vipassana or insight) meditation. The first class explores the attitude we bring to meditation that makes it rewarding, and the training that helps us in "coming back" from thoughts. The second class guides us in "being here," in cultivating a mindful awareness that recognizes and accepts what is happening in the present moment. Both classes include guided meditations and valuable reminders that can support you in developing a rich meditation practice.
57:20
09/07/2011 Guided Meditation 23:01
  Finding the Juice Inside of Fear (audio)
Finding the Juice Inside of Fear (video)
Learning to bring a mindful presence to fear is an intrinsic part of spiritual awakening. In this talk we look at the ways we get caught in the trance of fear, and how the two wings of presence--clear recognition and openheartedness--can free us. This process of facing unmet fears is necessary not only for our own healing, but for any possibility of peace and the healing of our planet.
55:52
08/31/2011 Vipassana Guided Meditation 21:05
  Befriending Irene (Audio)
Whether you face chronic anxiety or more violent storms of fear and anger, you can cultivate the wings of freedom--the mindfulness and compassion--that free you. This talk explores how the habit of being reactive causes us suffering and the ways these tools of meditation can be applied to the inner weather systems that most challenge us. (See "Befriending Irene" in Video)

The flute meditation at the end of the talk is given by Akal Dev.
58:57
08/24/2011 Guided Meditation - Alert Inner Stillness 20:51
  Wholehearted Living (Audio)
What stops us from being wholehearted in our relationships and life? This talk explores the conditioning that keeps us from an engaged presence, and the key elements to manifesting heart and spirit in all that we do. (See "Wholehearted Living" in video here)
54:17
08/17/2011 Jonathan Foust was the guest speaker at RRUUC. You might like to listen in to his meditation and talk?
Guided Meditation - Letting Go (Jonathan Foust at IMCW)
23:00
  Let Go Now (Jonathan Foust at IMCW) (Audio)
The classic teaching "Be Here Now" requires that we "Let Go Now" - of everything and anything that is not present.  How do we do this? Jonathan shares some guiding principles of the art of renunciation with practical examples, suggestions and teachings through the ages.
47:19
08/10/2011 (our apologies - technical difficulties - the meditation is not available)
  Relating Wisely to Desire (Audio)
Without desire, this world would not exist. While this universal energy is entirely natural, if we are not mindful of it, desire can become a narrowed fixation or addiction that creates deep suffering. This talk explores the ways we can pay attention that honor this energy without allowing it to cut us off from presence and possess us. (See "Relating Wisely to Desire" in video here)
47:28
08/03/2011 Guided Meditation--Inner Space - Gateway to Open Awareness
(adapted from Open Focus Meditations led by Les Fehmi, Ph.D.)
19:04
  Learning to Respond, Not React (Audio)
When life doesn't go our way, we often launch into a chain reaction of obsessive thinking, blaming and unpleasant emotions. This talk explores how we can use meditative practices to step out of reactive patterns and respond to life's challenges from our naturally wise heart. (See "Learning to Respond, Not React" in video here)
47:28
07/27/2011 Guided Meditation--Inner Space- Gateway to Open Awareness
(adapted from Open Focus Meditations led by Les Fehmi, Ph.D.)
19:04
  Part 2: The Mystery of Who We Are (Audio)
Everything we cherish--love, creativity, wisdom, aliveness-- arises out of our capacity to arrive in Beingness. This talk explores the stress that leads us to cut off from our natural state of being, and two key pathways home. Included are guided meditations that explore the nature of our awareness, the essence of who we are. (See "Part 2: The Mystery of Who We Are" in Video)
56:25
07/20/2011 Guided Meditation--The Space of Awareness-2 24:07
  The Mystery of Who We Are (Audio)
The Buddha taught that we suffer because we don't realize who we are. This talk explores two pathways of awakening from the insecurity and reactivity that arises from a narrow sense of self. Listeners are invited to investigate the nature of awareness through several guided reflections. (See "The Mystery of Who We Are" in Video)
54:19
07/13/2011 Tara was away teaching this week; enjoy a wonderful talk from 2007.  
  The Joy of Conscious Relationships (Audio)
We live in a relational field, and as we develop the capacity for presence with others, we discover the truth of our connectedness. This discovery is experienced as love, and gives rise to genuine happiness and inner freedom. This talk explores the teachings and practices that nourish conscious relationships.
54:03
07/06/2011 Guided Meditation--The Space of Presence 24:39
  Flow and Presence (Audio)
In the moments when we are truly happy, there is a sense of both aliveness and presence. This talk reflects on three key ways we remove ourselves from living presence; and offers guided reflections that can re-open us into the flow. (see "Flow and Presence" in Video)
53:45
06/29/2011 Guided Meditation--Reflection on Intention 23:22
  Compass of the Heart (Audio)
Are you aware of the intentions that are shaping your thoughts, moods and life experience? This talk explores how mindfulness of intention allows us to open to our deepest heart's aspiration, and have that guide the unfolding of our lives. (see "Compass of the Heart" in Video)
53:42
06/22/2011 Due to technical difficulties - no meditation available.  
  Presence and Empowerment (Audio)
In the moments we feel threatened, hurt or dissatisfied, we often flip into controlling mode--our body, heart and mind become contracted and we disconnect from presence. This talk explores how we can shift from controlling, to an empowering presence. When we do, our deepest wisdom and compassion begin to shape and guide our life. (see "Presence & Empowerment" in Video)
54:33
06/15/2011 Guided Meditation--The Mysterious Aliveness of Presence 21:57
  Soul Recognition: Seeing Past the Mask (Audio)
We each long to be true to ourselves--to live from the love, creativity and wisdom that is our essence. This talk explores how, by attending to three key domains, we train ourselves to see beyond ego conditioning. By deepening our attention, we can free ourselves and others to be who we truly are. (see "Soul Recognition" in Video)
54:33
06/08/2011 Guided Meditation--Listening and Pure Awareness 22:52
  The Art of Listening--Nourishing Loving Relationships (Audio)
Deep listening is an essential ingredient in intimate, caring relationships. This talk reflects on the intentionality, presence and quest for understanding that create the grounds for a healing and loving listening attention. (See "The Art of Listening" in video)
50:20
06/01/2011 Guided Meditation - Mindful Presence 18:08
  Part 2: Stress and Meditation (Audio)
When we are suffering from stress, we are paying attention to our world in a narrow and rigid way. Through meditations that cultivate a wakeful and open attention, we can dramatically transform the feelings of anxiety and aloneness that underlie all stress. (See "Part 2: Stress and Meditation" in video)
1:00:14
05/25/2011 Guided Meditation - The Space of Awareness 22:00
  Part 1: Stress and Meditation (Audio)
When we are suffering from stress, we are paying attention to our world in a narrow and rigid way. Through meditations that cultivate a wakeful and open attention, we can dramatically transform the feelings of anxiety and aloneness that underlie all stress. (See "Part 1: Stress and Meditation" in video)
1:00:14
05/18/2011 Guided Meditation - The Dance of Sensation 21:58
  Stepping Out of Time (Audio)
We spend much of our life on our way somewhere else, driven by the sense that something is missing or wrong. This talk explores the suffering that arises from our addiction to busyness and "doing," and the healing, loving and wisdom that arise when we take refuge in presence. (See "Stepping Out of Time" in video)
52:57
05/11/2011 Guided Meditation - Awake and Relaxed 21:04
  The Buddha's Spiritual Awakening: A Myth For Us All! (Audio)
In this telling of the Buddha's story, we find archetypes that reveal a universal path of awakening and freedom. We explore how each of us has the potential to realize the loving and radiant awareness that is our source. (See "The Buddha's Spiritual Awakening" in video)
53:04
05/01/2011 Tara taught at the IMCW spring retreat in Reisterstown, MD this week - below is her Monday evening talk. Apologies for the static in the background - it is constant from an air handler in the meditation hall.  
  Remembering Love (retreat talk)
The habit of self-judgment not only causes emotional pain, it creates a trance that obscures the purity and vastness of our Being. This talk explores how a wakeful and forgiving heart can heal and free us.
54:42
04/27/2011 Guided Meditation - In the Body 25:33
  The Blessings of Embodied Awareness (audio)
One expression of our suffering is homelessness--feeling cut off from the presence and aliveness that is our source. This talk explores the existential and cultural forces that foster disconnection from our physical and energetic being, the practices that enable us to embrace our unlived life and the gifts of homecoming. (Watch the video: The Blessings of Embodied Awareness)
54:42
04/20/2011 Guided Meditation - Metta Practice 30:53
  Part 2: Realizing True Well-Being (audio)
Buddhist psychology and the Western oriented field of positive psychology agree: How we pay attention determines whether we live primarily in fear and judgment, or happiness and peace. This two part series explores the teachings, practices and attitudes that enable us to live a meaningful life with a heart that is "happy for no reason." (Watch the video: Part 2: Realizing True Well-Being)
52:29
04/13/2011 Metta Meditation--Happiness 26:29
  Part 1: Realizing True Well-Being (audio)
Buddhist psychology and the Western oriented field of positive psychology agree: How we pay attention determines whether we live primarily in fear and judgment, or happiness and peace. This two part series explores the teachings, practices and attitudes that enable us to live a meaningful life with a heart that is "happy for no reason." (Watch the video: Part 1: Realizing True Well-Being)
49:23
04/06/2011 Sorry - due to audio interference, no guided meditation this week!
  Realizing Truth--The Power of Wise Inquiry (audio)
The Buddha considered investigation to be a crucial capacity on the spiritual path. This talk explores how interest and wise inquiry serve emotional healing, intimacy with others and revealing the truth that sets us free. (Watch the video: Realizing Truth - The Power of Wise Inquiry)
55:39
03/30/2011 Guided Meditation 22:24
  Part 2: The Healing Power of Self-Compassion (audio)
Part 2: The Healing Power of Self-Compassion (Video)
Learning to hold our own lives with a gentle compassion is a key element in all emotional healing and spiritual awakening. This two part series explores the suffering of being at war with ourselves and the pathway to freeing our hearts. Music at end is Libby Roderick, "How Could Anyone?"
53:43
03/23/2011 Guided Meditation: Saying Yes to Now 24:37
  Part 1: The Healing Power of Self-Compassion (audio)
Part 1: The Healing Power of Self-Compassion (Video)
Learning to hold our own lives with a gentle compassion is a key element in all emotional healing and spiritual awakening. This two part series explores the suffering of being at war with ourselves and the pathway to freeing our hearts. Music at end is Libby Roderick, "How Could Anyone?"
53:53
03/16/2011 Guided Meditation 28:03
  Impermanence: the Gifts of Facing Reality (Audio)
Only by opening our hearts to change and loss can we live and love fully. Yet much of our life is organized around finding ground-- avoiding the insecurity of change, loss and death. This talk explores how our ways of grasping and resisting remove us from the spontaneity and aliveness, the love and wisdom, that is our human potential.
54:43
03/09/2011 Guided Meditation 23:35
  Trusting Our Secret Beauty (Audio)
When caught in emotional suffering, we sense that we are living from a reactive, contracted place, and don't trust or like ourselves. This talk explores the severed belonging that is the genesis of that doubt, and the two wings of mindful presence and love that carry us home to our natural wholeness and goodness of Being.
57:24
03/02/2011 Guided Meditation 21:00
  Healing into Life and Death (Audio)
Given the universal truth that these bodies get sick and they die, what allows us to find freedom, happiness and peace in the midst? This talk explores how, when we get caught in the suffering that arises from physical sickness, we can take refuge in presence and love.
57:34
02/23/2011 Guided Meditation 23:23
  When We Are Lost (Audio)
It's part of our make up to get lost in the trance of thinking-- to believe our thoughts to be real and to live in the story of a separate, endangered self. It is also our capacity to recognize our trance and choose presence. This talk explores how the practice of pausing and arriving in the aliveness of our senses opens us to our natural compassion and wisdom, and enables us to experience the great mystery we are part of.
56:08
02/16/2011 Guided Meditation 24:19
  Part 2 - The Sure Heart's Release (Audio)
Our longing is to realize and embody loving presence, yet we each have deeply conditioned habits that bind our hearts. This talk reflects on these habits, and explores how we can free ourselves by bringing a mindful, compassionate attention to places where we are most trapped in feeling separate, fearful and unworthy.
51:55
02/09/2011 Guided Meditation 24:12
  The Sure Heart's Release (Audio)
Our longing is to realize and embody loving presence, yet we each have deeply conditioned habits that bind our hearts. This talk reflects on these habits, and explores how we can free ourselves by bringing a mindful, compassionate attention to places where we are most trapped in feeling separate, fearful and unworthy.
59:35
01/27/2011 NOTE: the Wednesday night meditation class was cancelled due to lots of snow in the Metro DC area. As an alternative, we recommend listening to Tara's recent interview podcast, "True Refuge," with Tami Simon of Sounds True recording.

Below is another new recording from our 2010 New Year's retreat.
54:00
01/19/2011 Guided Meditation 24:08
  Inviting Life's Difficulties to Tea (Audio)
One of the most illuminating themes in the Buddha's life story was the regular appearance of Mara--god of selfishness and greed, anger and fear, doubt and shame. Each time Mara surfaced, the Buddha's response was to say "I see you Mara," and invite him to tea. This talk explores how such unconditional friendliness and wisdom can bring healing and freedom to our lives.
54:22
01/12/2011 Guided Meditation 23:02
  Evolving Consciousness--Beyond limiting Identities (Audio)
The flag of trance is identifying as a separate, deficient self. This talk explores how developmentally we can get fixated on fears and unmet needs and cut off from the wholeness of Being that is our true nature. We explore the power of mindfulness --seeking not to change but to understand--and the expression of that understanding as love. The talk includes guided reflections that can help us recognize and awaken from the confines of trance.
54:22
01/05/2011 Guided Meditation 20:24
  True Refuge: Three Gateways to Freedom (Audio)
This talk invites a contemplation of three archetypal domains of spiritual awakening: Buddha-awareness, Dharma- truth (the way things are), and Sangha-loving relatedness. We explore our habit of turning toward false refuges, and the way we can find refuge in that which truely heals our hearts and frees our mind. The evening ends with a living ritual of dedicating ourselves to each of these three gateways to awakening.
1:06:11
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.
1:05:44