When we’re afraid and overwhelmed, it’s easy to turn away from ourselves for comfort. In her new book True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, clinical psychologist Tara Brach explores pathways that carry us to an inner sanctuary that she says is always there for us — and within which we begin to find strength and peace.
Dan Gottlieb talks to Tara about her new book. It’s a collection of teachings, guided meditations, and narratives of those who look within for wisdom.
Tara Brach is a leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing, and spiritual awakening. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 35 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation. She’s the senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.
I had a student once who was so depressed
she wanted to die. She was a young single mother,
lonely, poor, watching other girls
go to parties and bars while she was home
cutting the crusts off peanut butter sandwiches,
reading The Berenstain Bears And the Bad Dream.
Then she collapsed with heart disease
and spent the next few years waiting for a transplant.
The strange thing is, now she was happy.
Every day, almost every breath, was semi-ecstatic.
She was a modern day Chicana Rumi,
hanging out with the Beloved, grateful just to touch His hem.
I find I’m telling myself all the time now,
look how you lift one foot and then the other,
all the nerves and synapses firing together.
Look how you reach for a carton of blueberries
and eat each dusky globe, one by one.
Look at the spotted dog tied to the newsstand,
drops of saliva sliding off his tongue
and the cracked Bic lighter in the gutter,
shining a watery turquoise blue.
Even when your heart is a used teabag
you can lie down in a warm bed,
even though you cry half the night
with the window open a little
to let in the stars.
— By Ellen Bass