Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach            

Discussion Group – Class Schedule – Wednesday 2pm – 3:30 pm

All readings from:  “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach

  • December 24th – No Class – Christmas
  • December 31st – 4th Wednesday – Brunch at Buffalo Grill
  • January 14th – Chapter 4
  • January 28th – Chapter 5


  • If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished? – Rumi
  • These few words are enough. If not these words, this breath. If not this breath, this sitting here. This opening to the life we have refused again and again until now. Until now. David Whyte



  • Seven miles later, the plane reentered the planet’s denser atmosphere, where standard navigation strategies could be implemented. Yeager came to, steadied the craft and landed safely. He had discovered the only lifesaving response that was possible in this desperate situation: Don’t do anything. You take
  • In our lives we often find ourselves in situations we can’t control, circumstances in which none of our strategies work. Helpless and distraught, we frantically try to manage what is happening. Our child takes a downward turn in academics, and we issue one threat after another to get him in line. Someone says something hurtful to us, and we strike back quickly or retreat.
  • What if we were to intentionally stop our mental computations and our rushing around and, for a minute or two, simply pause and notice our inner experience?
  • Learning to pause is the first step in the practice of Radical Acceptance. A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving toward any goal.
  • In a pause we simply discontinue whatever we are doing—thinking, talking, walking, writing, planning, worrying, eating—and become wholeheartedly present, attentive and, often, physically still.
  • A pause is, by nature, time limited. We resume our activities, but we do so with increased presence and more ability to make choices.
  • Taking our hands off the controls and pausing is an opportunity to clearly see the wants and fears that are driving us.
  • Often the moment when we most need to pause is exactly when it feels most intolerable to do so.


  • Because we want to be accepted and loved, we try to fashion and present a self that will attract others and secure our belonging. But we inevitably express our natural aggression or neediness or fear—parts of our emotional makeup that frequently are taboo—and the significant people in our life react to us. Whether we are mildly scolded, ignored or traumatically rejected, on some level we are hurt and pushed away.
  • Underneath “I shouldn’t get so angry” lies “There’s something wrong with me if I do.”
  • No matter what situation she was in, when the raw feelings of not being “good enough” were triggered, Laura was thrown back to her childhood, where she had been powerless to do anything but defend herself.
  • As Carl Jung states in one of his key insights, the unfaced and unfelt parts of our psyche are the source of all neurosis and suffering. Laura’s lashing out kept her from feeling how ashamed and hurt she really felt. Yet this “defense” only made her feel even more ashamed for being so out of control.


  • Yet no matter how happy we may be, life inevitably delivers up a crisis—divorce, death of a loved one, a critical illness. Seeking to avoid the pain and control our experience, we pull away from the intensity of our feelings, often ignoring or denying our genuine physical and emotional needs.
  • This attitude of neither grasping nor pushing away any experience has come to be known as the Middle Way, and it characterizes the engaged presence we awaken in pausing. In the pause, we, like Siddhartha, become available to whatever life brings us, including the unfaced, unfelt parts of our psyche.


  • Until we stop our mental busyness, stop our endless activities, we have no way of knowing our actual experience. Like Laura, we primarily know how to avoid it.
  • “Tara, when someone criticizes me, I can’t handle it. I lose it … I feel as if I have to fight with them. If I pause I’m afraid I’ll fall apart.” Sobbing, Laura put her face in her hands and said, “I feel so ashamed of myself. I’m just not the person I want to be.”
  • Yet if we get caught in a charged situation, a good way to begin is to take a “time-out” and find a quiet, safe place to practice the pause. It always helps to start with a few deep breaths, consciously relaxing the body and mind.
  • Yet it would take Laura a number of sessions before the pause could begin to feel like a real refuge—a place where she could be aware of her pain without feeling possessed or overwhelmed by it. Eventually the pause would allow her to come home to herself in an intimate and honest way.
  • Each time Laura felt provoked and charged madly against the enemy, she became more off balance, further ensnared in her fear and shame.
  • In the midst of this turmoil she heard an inner voice whisper, “This feels horrible … and I can handle it.” She had felt this agitation many times in our therapy sessions, and knew it was bearable and wouldn’t last. As Laura relaxed she felt a spaciousness slowly opening in her chest and throat. The sharp hurt began dissolving, and in its place a profound sense of sorrow arose. As she allowed all these feelings to unfold, she felt as if she were gently caring for the wounded places inside her.
  • Poet Rainer Maria Rilke expresses a deep understanding of the dragons all of us face: Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”


  • Even if only one person in a relationship practices pausing and opening with Radical Acceptance, this has the potential of freeing both from a painful impasse. Pausing interrupts entrenched patterns of interaction. When the downward spiral of judging and misunderstanding is stopped, even for a brief time, it becomes possible to recognize the unconscious beliefs and feelings that lie behind the problem.
  • When one partner chooses to avoid making hurtful comments or to listen more carefully, the other may become more relaxed, less defensive.


  • We can also purposefully pause during regular activities. I often pause before getting out of my car and simply feel what is going on inside me.
  • Pausing is the gateway to Radical Acceptance. In the midst of a pause, we are giving room and attention to the life that is always streaming through us, the life that is habitually overlooked.

Guided Reflection: The Sacred Pause

  • Choose a time when you are involved in a goal-oriented activity—reading, working on the computer, cleaning, eating—and explore pausing for a moment or two. Begin by discontinuing what you are doing, sitting comfortably and allowing your eyes to close. Take a few deep breaths and with each exhale let go of any worries or thoughts about what you are going to do next; let go of any tightness in the body. Now, notice what you are experiencing as you inhabit the pause. What sensations are you aware of in your body? Do you feel anxious or restless as you try to step out of your mental stories? Do you feel pulled to resume your activity? Can you simply allow, for this moment, whatever is happening inside you?


Future Classes at West U

These are 3 hour introductory classes to meditation.   It is the same class that most of you have attended.

  • Thursday May 14th 2015 – 5:30 – 8:30 pm


Cognitive Processing Therapy CPT

Contact L.V. Bryant Office #832 652 1520

  • Stuck point – Belief or story that is inhibiting us.
    • Example – My life is over. I am too old.   The world isn’t fair nor good.
    • Question your stuck point – Find arguments for and against the beliefs
    • Is your stuck
      • Based on facts?
      • Helpful?
      • An exaggeration / all or none thinking
      • Confusing something likely from something definite


Additional Resources

Any questions email me at stan@beingmindful.com

Copies of the handouts and homework on http://BeingMindful.com