Archive for November 21st, 2012



I’ve been listening to Tara Brach’s podcast entitled “Hands Off the Controls”.  Tara Brach is also the author of Radical Acceptance (highly recommend!).  I love her completely non-judgmental stance.  So many teachers use labels that inherently carry judgment.  Tara, particularly in her book, refers to the shadow.  Some of you may be familiar with this Jungian term also.  The shadow is only and ever those unloved parts of ourselves.  To reject the shadow, is to enable its presence even further.

In the podcast, Tara gives some concrete steps for dealing with suffering on any level.  I am going to detail them below.  If you listen to the podcast, I am not quoting verbatim, so you may hear things differently.  Certainly, it’s also a small piece of the podcast, so if you get a chance to listen to the whole of it, I don’t think you will regret it.

She recommends using these tools for the big stuff, when the sh*t really hits the fan, but I think it’s good practice to even start out with small things.  Then when the stuff really does hit the fan, you’ve already got a toe hold in something you’ve lent some practice to.

1) Resourcing: This is designed to calm the nervous system.  It also brings you instantly into the present moment.  Begin consciously breathing focusing longer on the in breath and extending the out breath, too.  Do this several times, consciously.  Now feel your feet on the floor, the weight of your body in a chair, or lying in bed.  This is about grounding yourself to the earth.  Now from here, ask: May I offer “metta” or loving kindness to self, or others? (You may choose whichever or both if it applies, but suggest offering loving kindness first to self.)

2) Letting go of controls: Explore not doing and just being with what comes up.  You can say (and this is a direct quote):

“This is suffering…other people experience it, too.  May I be kind.”

She also mentioned a version of a quote most of us have heard as Christians, but this is a unique version of it:

“Not my will, but my [awakened] heart’s will.”

3) Beyond not doing: Having completed the first two steps, now as the need arises, take the action steps that are necessary.  These steps now are being taken from a state of presence, rather than a reactive or fear-based stance.

J. Krishnumurti was once quoted as saying: “Life has an astonishing way of taking care of you when you no longer mind what happens.”  I would change that, because truly often we do mind what happens to us.  Life has an astonishing way of taking care of you, when you no longer try to control what happens.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  May peace and loving kindness enter your heart each and every breath of all your days.

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