#422 – Finding True Refuge in Mindfulness with Tara Brach PhD

Tara Brach


Tara Brach, Ph. D., is a clinical psychologist, founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and an internationally known teacher of Buddhist meditation. She is the author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge.

Tara has offered numerous keynote speeches and accredited workshops for mental health practitioners interested in integrating meditative practices into psychotherapy. She has also been active in bringing meditation into prisons and into the curriculum in DC metro area schools.

Tens of thousands of people around the world listen daily to Tara’s free podcasts –meditations and teachings that serve emotional healing and spiritual awakening.

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A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

copyright 2014: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.



  1. Peter Myran
    Posted September 27, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Hi David,

    Another wonderful show!! I have been anxiously awaiting this one as Tara has (indirectly) been one of my most impactful teachers, ever since I had the good fortune to pick up Radical Acceptance back in ’06. She is so skilled at putting the wisdom she teaches in such simple, graspable packages. I love the simplicity and truth of her response to your first question. You asked, “Refuge from what?” “We are taking refuge from our own misunderstanding of who we are, and our self-limiting narrative that says something is wrong with me, something is missing, and I am separate, and I don’t belong, and that’s when we are really in suffering. Refuge is the realization of our belonging, of the love and awareness that is our essence and what we belong to. (I paraphrased this somewhat)

    At the end of the interview I really liked, as I know you did, Tara’s line, (again paraphrased slightly) “The greatest gift we can give is to mirror back the essential goodness we see in one another.”

    So inspiring! I am going to add this gem to our Victories men’s work manual. It so perfectly captures the nutshell intention of how we hope to help each other in our groups.

    Thank you again for bringing another embodiment of learning, wisdom and love to us all.

    Love, your friend –


  2. Posted September 28, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi David, Well as you know from the fact that I immediately volunteered to transcribe this episode and got it done post haste, I was completely enamoured with it.

    During the transcription process, as often happens when I do a transcript, I had an epiphany and it was that I realised how much I lack self compassion. After some processing, I saw that in spite of having struggled seemingly forever with the guilt of spending so much time and energy on working through my childhood trauma, this guilt still has a hold on me.

    I’m sure this is something many others struggle with, whether they are professionals in the business of helping others, or individuals simply struggling with their own healing and transformation.

    What I realised for myself is that I still equate self compassion with a form of weakness, self pity and self indulgence, narcissism even. I have overcome this attitude to a large degree due to the realisation that the work we do on ourselves ripples out through the collective unconscious whether or not it is apparent in the outer conscious world but it still isn’t completely resolved.

    She mentioned a practice that a man who had trouble forgiving his aged and sick father used It is a traditional Hawaiian technique called Hoʻoponopono and the version I am familiar with is “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” It is a very powerful practice but again, for people who tend to internalise blame more than externalise it (ultimately there is no difference but it takes a lot to get to that point) it only goes so far.

    I have often used a method that I developed myself when working with certain people who showed up in my dreams which is similar and very powerful. I would imagine seeing the person in front of me, visualise them becoming a spirit form and breathing them in through my nostrils and into my heart. It was very effective in healing my own attitude but had no effect on the outer relationships and I was pleased to hear Tara caution against using this kind of practice with the expectation of a desired outcome.

    When Tara talked about finding compassion for oneself through accepting it from trusted others, I immediately found myself in resistance to the idea that anyone who is in a very dark place would be capable of doing that and realised that for myself when I was in that dark place, it was mostly through my cats and nature that I found the sustenance to keep me going. Not that I didn’t have trustworthy and loving people in my life but my sense of unworthiness was so overwhelming (and I must say from my present perspective completely irrational) that I couldn’t let it in.

    David, this is such an important topic and so relevant to the type of audience who listens to Shrink Rap Radio that I’m sure there would be many more like me who would love for you to try and get Tara back to go into it in more depth. From her comments at the end, “You’ve been a dream to talk with. I feel like you’re so inviting and so there.” I’m sure she would be agreeable.

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