Tara Brach is a celebrated teacher of meditation and Buddhism.
In her book, Radical Self-Acceptance (also available as audio recordings), she guides us through talks and meditations that encourage us to practice pausing, and breaking the negative patterns we get stuck in.
In one chapter entitled “Befriending the Inner Life,” Brach gives step-by-step suggestions for approaching a loving and mindful relationship with one’s own mind, thought patterns, etc.
Listening to her powerful talk, I was struck by how similar the process she describes is to the stance we encourage you to take with your Loved One.
As you read, keep in mind that you can apply Brach’s suggestions either to your own inner life, or to your relationship with your Loved One. Or both!
Brach speaks about the importance of developing a “quality of presence” and listening, in order to connect with the part(s) of us that we’ve held at bay or have a confrontational relationship with.
“Once we pause, and really attend, we can begin to develop a friendship. We can begin to change the old pattern of neglect,” she explains.
The basic outline of the “befriending” process is below (these are Brach’s words):
1) Recognition of what’s here ….. Stop, pause. Ask [yourself] the question, ‘what is true now? what is happening right now?’ ….. It’s impossible to be maintaining a sense of interest and curiosity and simultaneously rejecting something. The very nature of being interested is that there’s an open quality to the attention.
2) Name what we notice. Name what we’re aware of. In a tone of voice that communicates care. Name the judgement, the anger, the fear, the shame, the craving …
3) Acknowledge what we’ve named. You can think of it like a greeting. The Indian phrase ‘namo’ means ‘I bow.’ [You can think of it like this]: I bow to this energy. Be respectful. Name, and acknowledge. Say hello to what you’ve named ….. These parts of us are like a timid, wild creature: they will not reveal themselves unless the surroundings are safe.
Brach encourages us to let go of the “been there, done that” attitude, and to “drop any assumptions about what’s going to happen.” She explains that we can “make it a sincere and fresh process” by adopting “beginner’s mind.” We learn to sit with our inner life (or our Loved One) with a “genuine quality of interest ….. [and] really trust that this moment and what it’s expressing, can be a guide ….. and our only job is to really show up, with some presence, with some care.
Whether you decide to practice these steps as part of your ongoing self-care, or to help you open to your Loved One in times of non-use or during a wish or a dip, I am sure that these suggestions will be of great help.
Learn more about Tara Brach and her teachings, on the Compassion, Hope & Happiness page of our Supplement.