For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting with who we really are and what it means to live fully.
—from Radical Acceptance
“Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffering,” says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork—all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance developed over Dr. Brach’s twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.
Writing with great warmth and clarity, Tara Brach brings her teachings alive through personal stories and case histories, fresh interpretations of Buddhist tales, and guided meditations. Step by step, she leads us to trust our innate goodness, showing how we can develop the balance of clear-sightedness and compassion that is the essence of Radical Acceptance. Radical Acceptance does not mean self-indulgence or passivity. Instead it empowers genuine change: healing fear and shame and helping to build loving, authentic relationships. When we stop being at war with ourselves, we are free to live fully every precious moment of our lives.
A psychotherapist and Buddhist meditation teacher in the tradition of Jack Kornfield (who contributes a foreword), first-time author Brach offers readers a rich compendium of stories and techniques designed to help people awaken from what she calls "the trance of unworthiness." The sense of self-hatred and fearful isolation that afflicts so many people in the West can be transformed with the steady application of a loving attention infused with the insights of the Buddhist tradition, according to Brach. Interweaving stories from her own life as a hardworking single mother with many wonderful anecdotes culled from her therapy practice and her work as a leader of meditation retreats, Brach offers myriad examples of how our pain can become a doorway to love and liberation. An older Catholic woman in one of Brach's weekend workshops, for example, recounts how she learned to ask God to help hold her pain. Like her colleagues Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein and others in the Vipassana or Insight meditation tradition, Brach is open-minded about where she gathers inspiration. Garnishing her gentle advice and guided meditation with beautiful bits of poetry and well-loved if familiar dharma stories, Brach describes what it can mean to open to the reality of other people, to live in love, to belong to the world. Obviously the fruit of the author's own long and honest search, this is a consoling and practical guide that can help people find a light within themselves.