Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist and the author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, winner of a Books for a Better Life Award. She is the founder of the Insight Meditation Community in Washington, D. C., and has conducted workshops across the country. In this gracefully written volume of consolation and comfort, Brach delivers a healing and helpful meditation on refuge which can be experienced right here and right now by resting in the warmth of our own hearts and minds:
"We find true refuge whenever we recognize the silent space of awareness behind all our busy doing and striving. We find refuge whenever our hearts open with tenderness and love. We find refuge whenever we connect with the innate clarity and intelligence of our true nature."
Brach describes our quest for a place of rest. The trance of the small self often leads us to false refuges. Meditation when we create the time and space to practice can guide us to refuge by training the mind and helping us remember what matters. The next steps on the spiritual path are the three ways we can begin to take refuge in truth: working with our inner life; dedicating ourselves to wise, ethical behavior; and understanding what is real. We rejoice that the compass of the heart draws us home to the refuges of truth, love, and awareness.
Brach shares a mindfulness practice called RAIN:
• Recognize what is happening.
• Allow life to be just as it is.
• Investigate inner experience with kindness.
• Nonidentification, rest in awareness.
Throughout the rest of the book, Brach presents examples of presence, which she defines as intrinsic awareness that can be discovered in the midst of illness, confusion, and tragedies. Here you will find emotional material on the life of the body, compulsive thinking, traumatic fear, self-compassion, the courage to forgive, holding hands, and the pain of separation. By the end of this enriching journey, you will have a deeper and richer understanding of awareness, presence, and taking refuge.
Be sure to slow down and take a break from reading the book by having a spiritual friend read to you some of Brach's special Guided Reflections. See two of them in the excerpts linked off the right column of this page.