Category Archives: Relationships

Three Core Reminders for Spiritual Practice



This talk explores three powerful ways you can direct your attention when you find yourself emotionally stuck: Wake up from thoughts; feel your feelings and remember love. We explore both the habits blocking these basic movements toward freedom, and what nourishes them. Together they can serve to open your mind, awaken aliveness and heal your heart.

If abandonment is the core wound
the disconnection from mother
the loss of wholeness
then the most potent medicine
is this ancient commitment
to never abandon yourself
to discover wholeness in the whole-mess
to be a loving mother to your insides
to hold the broken bits
in open awareness
to illuminate the sore places
with the light
of love

Jeff Foster

photo: Tara Brach ~ Morning Meditation on Cape Cod


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Trusting the Gold: A Conversation between Tara Brach and Jonathan Foust



In this interview-style conversation, Jonathan asks Tara questions about key themes in her new book, Trusting the Gold. They include their own relationships and ways we work with our inner life and others, in cultivating the capacity to see basic goodness and realizing a mature and liberating quality of trust.

Links to order Tara’s new book here: Trusting the Gold. (US, UK, AU and Audible editions available)


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Trusting the Gold – A Celebration of Tara’s New Book



The essence of the spiritual path is realizing, trusting and living from our natural awareness and love. This talk explores the two key pathways that help us awaken from the trance of identifying as a limited, separate self. It includes several guided meditations and a period of questions and response.

Order your copy of Trusting the Gold now!


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Being a Mirror of Goodness: An Intention for the New Year



Blog: Being a Mirror of Goodness: An Intention for the New Year

Adapted from: Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN
Tara Brach, PhD

The medicine for our hurting world is love, and our loving becomes deeply healing when we see and reflect back the innate goodness of other beings. Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony de Mello taught that the finest act of love you can offer is an act of seeing: “When you serve people, you help, support, comfort, alleviate pain. When you see people in their inner beauty and goodness, you transform and create.”

The Power to Transform

Being a mirror of goodness can help someone undo a lifetime of self-aversion or alienation. It can call forth their natural intelligence, creativity, courage and love. It can reveal our shared belonging with those of different races, religions and classes. And, beyond the transformative impact on us as individuals, our capacity for seeing the goodness is what will allow us to evolve our species consciousness in a way that serves a truly compassionate, just world.

We all need to be reminded of our intrinsic worth. Yet because we are so conditioned to judge or try to fix others, or to view them in a habitual way that assumes what they are like, we often don’t remember to take in their goodness. And when we do register the brightness and tenderness of their heart, we rarely let them know.

Three Essential Trainings

Being a mirror of goodness requires training in three key practices: learning to see beyond another person’s protective conditioning, attuning to how the sacred lives through them, and expressing our appreciation and love. We can start to break our patterning with those close to us (as well as those we don’t know well) by purposefully looking at them with a curious, receptive and fresh attention. One trick that works for me is to begin by looking into someone’s eyes with the intention of noticing what color they are. I then begin to wonder about who is looking through those eyes: Can I sense the light of awareness that is there? What does this person care about most deeply? What suffering does their heart bear? If they were gone, what about their living spirit would I remember and cherish?

Again, from Anthony de Mello:

Look for things in them that you might have missed because of familiarity, for familiarity breeds staleness, blindness, and boredom. You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not constantly discovering anew.

In our personal relationships, being a mirror of goodness means letting others know what we most appreciate or love about them. It’s an intimate offering, one that can bring up self-consciousness, discomfort and/or the fear that what is shared won’t be welcome. Maybe we think we aren’t a significant figure in the other person’s life and that what we are noticing won’t really matter. Or perhaps it’s simply that we are shy, and it’s not our habit. Yet, expressing our appreciation has the power to transform lives.

Author and physician Rachel Naomi Remen tells a story about her grandfather, a rabbi, who called her Neshume-le, which means “little beloved soul.” His words gave her great comfort and trust in her place in the world. After he died, Rachel told her mother how much these blessings had meant to her. Her mother responded, “Rachel, I’ve blessed you every day of your life. I just never had the wisdom to do it out loud.”

Saying it out loud matters: Love becomes fully alive in the moments it is expressed. When you tell a dear one “I love you” with presence and sincerity, the energy of those words will soften and open and awaken the person’s heart. And as you speak, your own heart will also become more tender, vast and free.

What You Practice Grows Stronger

Loving kindness meditations can be a powerful ground for actively mirroring goodness. My own experimenting with this practice led to a reflection that I continue to this day. During supper one evening toward the end of a month-long silent retreat, I was touched by the gentleness and kindliness that emanated from an elderly man sitting nearby. I suddenly imagined that I was standing in front of him and we were looking into each other’s eyes; then he closed his eyes, and I kissed him lightly on the brow. That image brought an upwelling of tenderness, a sense of soul connection.

Since then, I’ve done this inner practice for dear ones, for people I don’t know well, and for those I’ve never met. I pause to see their goodness and then imagine offering some gesture of care—a kiss on the brow or sometimes a soft touch on their face or a gentle hug. Often I’ll include a phrase of well-wishing, sometimes silent, sometimes whispered. Always, I feel more connected.

This loving kindness practice reminds me to offer my blessings out loud. When I’m with a person I’ve been reflecting on, there’s a more immediate sense of intimacy. I’m more inclined to take in their basic goodness and, in some way, let them know.

Widening the Circles of Compassion

Being a mirror of goodness is not only the greatest gift we can offer to others, it has the power to awaken more understanding and compassion in our world. As we cultivate our seeing, we realize that the loving awareness we cherish shines through all beings everywhere—humans, non-human animals, this living earth. On a societal level, learning to see past the masks of those who are different from ourselves is the core ingredient for undoing the racial and other caste systems that are responsible for horrific violence and suffering.

These times of division and mistrust are calling on us to see basic goodness and to nourish the currents of love that can help heal our world. The place to start is right now, with someone close by—seeing what you love and sharing what you see, heart to heart. Your practice will evolve as you intentionally widen the circles of care to include those of difference, and all those you engage with. You can trust that by mirroring goodness, your loving will ripple out endlessly in a powerful, beautiful and mysterious way.

REFLECTION: BEING A MIRROR OF GOODNESS

Take a few minutes to sit still, relax your body, and quiet your mind. When you feel present, bring to mind someone dear to you. Remind yourself of what you appreciate and love about them—perhaps recalling an affectionate look in their eyes, their brightness, humor, generosity, honesty. Feel the warmth of your appreciation in your body.

Now imagine being with them in person and telling them some of the specific ways you experience their goodness. How do they receive your mirroring? How do you feel, having offered it? How does this sharing affect your feelings of connection?

End by taking some moments to feel your intention to be a mirror of goodness for this being, and then more broadly, for others in your life.

_____________________

Adapted from: Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN (Viking, 2019) by Tara Brach, PhD

Radical Compassion is now available in paperback at your favorite bookseller. Here’s where you can pick up your copy!



Heart to Heart: A Conversation Between Dan Gottlieb and Tara Brach



Heart-to-Heart A Conversation between Dan Gottlieb and Tara Brach: Pain, Loneliness, Gratitude & Whatever Else Comes Up – Including Love

This very real and human interchange touches on pain, loss, love, gratitude and much more.


Dr. Dan Gottlieb is a psychologist author, speaker, and radio host. He calls himself a “teacher of kindness.”

The essence of Dan’s philosophy can be found on his business card. After his name there are no degrees and no fancy titles. His card simply says “Daniel Gottlieb. Human.” Through personal and professional experience, Dan has learned that our greatest suffering is alienation and loneliness. That is these powerful emotions can produce prejudice, hatred, violence, withdrawal and depression. He has learned that all humans long for human contact, compassion and understanding. And without compassion, our spirits wither. When asked to summarize his life’s work, he says simply: “I teach kindness.”



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The Stories that Empower Us: A Conversation with Tara Brach and Elizabeth Lesser, Author of “Cassandra Speaks”



This rich dialogue focuses on how the stories that shape our lives are based on male-generated origin tales and hero myths. If we are to create the world we believe in—a world based on love, compassion and respect for the dignity of all beings—we need to be guided by new stories that include the voice of women. These themes are at the heart of Elizabeth’s powerful and deeply engaging new book, “Cassandra Speaks.”


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Radical Love: Part 2 – Loving Ourselves into Healing



Radical love sees and cherishes the sacred that lives through all beings.  In this talk, we’ll look at the barrier to loving the life that is right here—what we call self—and how we can call on the light and warmth of awareness to awaken that love.

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” ~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“Through love all pain will turn to medicine.” ~ Rumi, Look! This Is Love

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

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Belonging to Each Other – Part 3 of 3



Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of lovingkindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

“Whatever our habit is – whatever we practice – really does get stronger. The grooves get deeper. It takes a really deep reflection and commitment to practice something different.” ~ Tara

Everything… everything… every little thing is unique at its surface and indistinguishable at its core. I want to remember this today. The oneness… the oneness underlying our differences and the truth that we can never really be strangers, even if we never laid eyes on each other before. I want to remember this today. The oneness… the oneness…
~ Danna Faulds

Listen to Part 1 – Belonging to Each Other

Listen to Part 2 – Belonging to Each Other


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Belonging to Each Other – Part 2 of 3



Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of lovingkindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

“Whatever our habit is – whatever we practice – really does get stronger. The grooves get deeper. It takes a really deep reflection and commitment to practice something different.” ~ Tara

My soul tells me, we were
all broken from the same nameless
heart, and every living thing
wakes with a piece of that original
heart aching its way into blossom.
This is why we know each other
below our strangeness, why when
we fall, we lift each other, or when
in pain, we hold each other, why
when sudden with joy, we dance
together. Life is the many pieces
of that great heart loving itself
back together.

~ Mark Nepo

Listen to Part 1 – Belonging to Each Other

Listen to Part 3 – Belonging to Each Other


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Belonging to Each Other – Part 1 of 3



Mother Teresa writes that if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. These three talks explore the causes for severed belonging, and pathways to deepening the felt sense of belonging to our own body, heart and spirit, and to all beings. Together the talks offer a natural and powerful progression of lovingkindness or metta reflections, that when practiced regularly can open us to the peace, joy and freedom of trusting our mutual belonging.

Vitally, the human race is dying. It is like a great uprooted tree, with its roots in the air. We must plant ourselves again in the universe.” ― D.H. Lawrence
divider
The essence of lovingkindness is this openhearted quality of friendliness. It’s sacred. It’s precious. As Mother Teresa described it, when we sense that belonging that comes with friendship, we really touch peace.

We close in that spirit to sense in your own heart the intention to befriend the life that’s within you. And take a moment to hold the life within you with the quality of care. Feel in your own words your prayer to befriend this life – to love yourself into healing.

Widening our attention to sense those in our lives – those close in, those that we don’t know, all beings – to sense that intention to discover our belonging to all of life everywhere. And in that discovery to know the joy and peace and freedom of being awake and alive. ~ Tara

Listen to Part 2 – Belonging to Each Other

Listen to Part 3 – Belonging to Each Other


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