Tag Archives: dharma

‘Basic Elements of Meditation Practice,’ More Incredible AudioDharma Teachings from Tara Brach

                                                                                                                                                   Tara Brach

Yes, I am writing about Tara Brach again.  Her teachings have been having a huge impact on me.  I started this blog as a place to share things that I believe have the power to change the quality of peoples’ lives, specifically in the arena of health.  From a holistic perspective our mental and physical health are inseparable, both spheres affecting one another.  When something like Mindfulness Meditation begins to have a positive effect on one’s life they can’t help but want to share it with as many people as possible.

One of the biggest things stopping people from receiving the benefits of meditation is a misunderstanding of the goal.  The idea isn’t to clear your mind or completely stop thought, but to accept what is happening in your mind at the given moment, without judgement, attachment, or aversion.  The ups and downs of life are inevitable and this ability to accept can greatly improve the way we face these undulations.  Few can explain the subtleties of this to a Western audience better than Tara Brach.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

In February she released a two-part series on her podcast called ‘Basic Elements of Meditation Practice.’  The teachings are nice for people who want to start meditating, but have had trouble getting started, while at the same time they are useful for those looking to go deeper into their own understanding.  The lectures show us that meditation doesn’t have to be complicated and should never be difficult.  Often times the quality of intention is what counts, viewing it as something you look forward too, rather than a chore or another thing we should be doing. She expounds on the importance of consistency over length of session, especially when getting started.  She beautifully relates this to the cycles of nature and how coming back each and every day creates a rhythm, even if it’s just sitting on the cushion for a few minutes when we wake up or before we go to bed.  I can’t recommend this series enough to anyone interested in simple, easy-to-follow guidance.  I will close with a poem Brach shares at the end of Part 2.  Namaste.

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment

“Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? …
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?

Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome. ”
-Dorothy Hunt

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Mindfulness and Dharma Talks with Tara Brach

The past two months I’ve witnessed my head space and thoughts move to a better place due to Washington D.C. based meditation teacher, Tara Brach. I first heard about her thanks to Maria Popova over at brainpickings. Through listening to her dharma talks via podcast and using some of the guided meditations on her webpage I have found deeper compassion for myself and a healthier way of viewing the world. Her teachings offer a chance to move from victim-hood to being an agent of change in your own life and others.

If you have the opportunity to scroll through her past talks Parts 1 and 2 about the “Power of Self-Compassion,” will give you new insight into the human condition and how to deal with it.

One titled, “Earth’s Crisis,” created an arena for me to deal with my own fears regarding the worldwide ecological crisis.

A Generous Heart,” explores not only why generosity and giving make us feel so good, but how creating that space in our heart can actually help us heal ourselves and our relationships with others.

Perhaps my favorite part of the podcast, aside from the peaceful state of mind it puts me in and the space for reflection on current issues in my life it creates, is all of the great quotes, anecdotes, poems, and comics she shares with the audience. From Rumi to Emerson to comics about things like a mouse with a cat psychiatrist, and everything in between, Brach infuses each lecture with references that either make you laugh or truly do inspire. Here are just a few that I’ve enjoyed so far.

  1. From Paul Hawken’s 2009 commencement speech, “In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
  1. Also from the same speech, “Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.
  2. From Cami Walker, No matter how much we have materially, we are often in a place of scarcity. We never think we have enough or that we’re good enough. Instead of getting lost in a sense of lack, once we realize we are part of something bigger, it becomes clear we have many gifts to offer the world.”
  3. From George Eliot:

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard, 
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went —
Then you may count that day well spent.

  1. Joanna Macy’s poem, “Bestiary.
  2. From Rumi,

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and rightdoing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass
    the world is too full to talk about.”