Category Archives: Fear

Worrier Pose: Finding Freedom from the Body of Fear (retreat talk)



While fear is a natural part of our make up, many of us suffering when the “on” button gets jammed. This talk looks at how our fears generate habitual patterns of physical tension, anxious thinking, emotions and behaviors; and how this constellation prevents us from inhabiting our full wisdom and love. We then explore two interrelated pathways of healing—unconditional presence, and resourcing, or cultivating access to safety and belonging (from the IMCW Fall 2018 7-Day Silent Retreat).

How
did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too
frightened.

Hafiz – Version by Daniel Ladinsky, Love Poems from God

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Love and Fear During Times of War: An Interview with Lama Rod Owens



The world is having a difficult moment. Each day we learn of a different conflict or crisis, which threatens the lives of so may people. It is easy to live with a lot of fear right now and it is even easier to react out of that fear was well. When we react out of fear we tend to create much more harm in the world.

This is a time of darkness and war and fear lies at the heart of much of the violence we are experiencing. How do we befriend our fear and offer it permission to teach us how to move through it into a state of freedom? How do we use our fear to connect to the fear so many other people are experiencing? Ultimately, how do we begin to love what is unlovable, especially our fear?

During their time together, Tara and Lama Rod call on the teachings of Buddhadharma as well as their own intrinsic wisdom to lean into fear with love.

This event was American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted.

Rod’s new book, Love and Anger: The Path of Liberation Through Anger. Love and Rage, is available now. 

More about Lama Rod Owens at: http://lamarod.com/


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Meditation: Meeting Fear with a Healing Breath (22:59 min.)



This meditation guides us through a relaxing body scan and then explores how we can allow the breath to calm our body and bring peace to our heart.


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Facing Pandemic Fears with an Awake Heart



While it’s natural to feel fear during times of great collective crisis, our challenge is that fear easily takes over our lives. This talk explores how the mindfulness and compassion of the RAIN meditation can help us find an inner refuge in the face of fear, and deepen our loving connection with each other.

Practice with the meditation excerpt from the talk (includes a video with cherry blossom images): Short Talk and Guided Meditation: Bringing RAIN to Fear.


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Short Talk and Guided Meditation: Bringing RAIN to Fear (13:32 min.)



In this practice we explore how the mindfulness and compassion of RAIN can free us from the grip of fear. This is an excerpt from the full talk: Facing Pandemic Fears with an Awake Heart.

NOTE: meditation in audio starts at 3:19.

Photo credits: Re Guillemin


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Guided Meditation for Times of Pandemic: “Calling on Your Awakened Heart” (23:44 min.)



In the midst of difficulty we need access to our deepest wisdom and love. This guided meditation calls forth this loving presence by opening to the heart and spirit of whatever being in our life we most experience as calm, wise and compassionate.

How do we find that inner place of calm in the midst of the storm?

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Lynn Ungar 3/11/20, Pandemic

In French: Méditation pour en temps de Pandémie: Invitez votre cœur éveillé


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Facing Fear (Part 2) – Awakening Your Fearless Heart



Fear is a natural and universal part of our incarnation, and, when it goes on overdrive, we get imprisoned in the suffering of separation. These two talks explore how the RAIN meditation can help us face fear, and discover the boundless loving awareness that includes but is not contracted by currents of fear.

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you will find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, …the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. ~ Annie Dillard

Life’s water flows from darkness.
Search the darkness don’t run from it.

Night travelers are full of light,
and you are, too; don’t leave this companionship. ~ Rumi


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Working with Trauma: Tara Interviews Jim Gordon, MD



The Transformation, by Jim GordonDr. Jim Gordon is author of the new book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma. In this interview with Tara, he talks about his work with populations around the globe struggling with trauma, and some of the most powerful practices that can be done on our own in healing trauma. Jim’s non-profit organization is the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC – CMBM.org.


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Facing Fear (Part 1) – Awakening Your Fearless Heart



Fear is a natural and universal part of our incarnation, and, when it goes on overdrive, we get imprisoned in the suffering of separation. These two talks explore how the RAIN meditation can help us face fear, and discover the boundless loving awareness that includes but is not contracted by currents of fear.

It’s the heart that begins to sense that if we want to be free, we have to come into presence. We have to face what’s here and we need to do it with the help and support of each other. ~ Tara

The mind creates the abyss. The heart crosses over it. ~ Sri Nisargadatta

How did the rose ever open up its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being, otherwise we all remain too frightened. ~ Hafez (Daniel Ladinsky, translation)


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Blog: Turning Toward Fear with RAIN



Turning Toward Fear with RAIN

Adapted from Tara’s new book –
Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of R.A.I.N. 

In a far-off land, word spread far and wide of a holy man with magic so powerful it could relieve the most severe suffering. After seekers of healing traveled through the wilderness to reach him, he’d swear them to secrecy about what was next to pass between them. Once they took the vow, the holy man asked a single question: What are you unwilling to feel?

Learning to directly face anxiety and fear with the RAIN meditation—Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture—gives you a pathway to inner transformation and a fearless heart.

Recognizing the Trance

After a daylong seminar on RAIN and stress, Brianna came up to me and asked for some help with a personal situation. She’d recently been hired as a marketing vice-president in a large corporation, but she felt intimidated by the CEO, who was very quick to cut off anyone who he felt was wasting his time. He ruled over the weekly staff meetings, which Brianna described as “torture” that put her into a state of “brain freeze.”

“I shouldn’t be worried about my competence,” she said. “I was recruited because I got an industry award at my last job. But the atmosphere here is totally different—really corporate, and the other VPs pretty much ignore me. I just go back to my office with my stomach churning and wonder how long I’ll last.”

I suggested that Brianna practice RAIN for a few minutes right before each meeting and asked her what was going on for her at that time.

“On those mornings I can really feel the anxiety building, and it lands me in a frenzy of busyness . . . reviewing reports, marking what I might need to comment on . . . nothing really productive.”

I smiled because I recognized that feeling all too well. “Okay, so before you start RAIN, imagine you’re pressing the pause button on that frenzy.” Brianna closed her eyes and pictured herself at her desk, a half-hour before the weekly meeting.

“As you pause,” I said, “your first job is to Recognize (R) the anxiety and Allow (A) it to be there.” After she nodded, I added, “Now, what do you notice if you bring your attention and interest to how it feels in your body?”

Beginning to Investigate (I), she muttered, “dry mouth . . . really tight chest . . . heart hammering . . . and, oh yeah, my stomach’s in knots.” I suggested she place her hand on her abdomen and send her breath there with a long slow inflow and outflow. This would to help her steady her attention and stay in contact with the fear.

What Does this Most Need?

Now I guided her to ask the scared place inside her what it needed most, a key inquiry in Investigating. After a moment, she looked up, surprised. “It said, ‘let it be ok that I’m here.’”

The Nurturing (N) that scared place needed was to be accepted, not to be made wrong. I asked Brianna how the wisest, kindest part of her wanted to respond. Could she find a way to acknowledge this very vulnerable part of herself with compassion?

She sat quietly, still breathing slowly, her hand on her belly. Then she nodded. “I just sent the message—it’s ok, this belongs. And . . . it does feel more ok. I’m actually a bit more relaxed.”

This became Brianna’s RAIN practice each week before going to the staff meeting. And when she felt anxiety spiking during the meeting, she’d simply breathe into it and send the message—It’s ok.

The freedom of This Belongs

About three months later, Brianna updated me. Her tension around the CEO hadn’t disappeared, but her anxiety had lessened somewhat. More important, it didn’t feel like such a big deal: “I’m not so alarmed when I get anxious,” she told me. “I was fighting it so hard, but now it’s ok that it’s there. That really does free me up.” She also shared some real progress in making creative contributions and connecting with others.

Asking yourself “what am I unwilling to feel?” can open you to deep spiritual healing. Fear is the feeling that something is wrong and that, rather than facing it, we need to act to protect ourselves. When, instead, we have the courage to pause and meet fear with the mindfulness and compassion of RAIN, our awareness and wisdom enlarges. If we need to respond to a threat, we’ll do so—with increased balance and presence. But often we’ll see: It’s just anxiety, it’s ok . . . this belongs—and begin to unhook from a lifetime pattern of reactivity. While fears continue to arise, we have access to a heart space that is open and free.

Adapted from Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Ourselves and Our World with the Practice of RAIN, Tara Brach (Viking, 2019).

Brach, T. (2019). Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of Rain. New York, NY: Viking Life.

More Resources on RAIN here.