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True Refuge
Cover of True Refuge
True Refuge
Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Borrow Borrow Borrow
How do you cope when facing life-threatening illness, family conflict, faltering relationships, old trauma, obsessive thinking, overwhelming emotion, or inevitable loss? If you're like most people, chances are you react with fear and confusion, falling back on timeworn strategies: anger, self-judgment, and addictive behaviors. Though these old, conditioned attempts to control our life may offer fleeting relief, ultimately they leave us feeling isolated and mired in pain.

There is another way. Beneath the turbulence of our thoughts and emotions exists a profound stillness, a silent awareness capable of limitless love. Tara Brach, author of the award-winning Radical Acceptance, calls this awareness our true refuge, because it is available to every one of us, at any moment, no exceptions. In this book, Brach offers a practical guide to finding our inner sanctuary of peace and wisdom in the midst of difficulty.

Based on a fresh interpretation of the three classic Buddhist gateways to freedom—truth, love, and awareness—True Refuge shows us the way not just to heal our suffering, but also to cultivate our capacity for genuine happiness. Through spiritual teachings, guided meditations, and inspirational stories of people who discovered loving presence during times of great struggle, Brach invites us to connect more deeply with our own inner life, one another, and the world around us.

True Refuge is essential reading for anyone encountering hardship or crisis, anyone dedicated to a path of spiritual awakening. The book reminds us of our own innate intelligence and goodness, making possible an enduring trust in ourselves and our lives. We realize that what we seek is within us, and regardless of circumstances, "there is always a way to take refuge in a healing and liberating presence."
Praise for True Refuge

"Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience as well as ten more years of personal experience on the path of awakening, Tara Brach's superb second book brings readers ever more deeply in touch with our true nature. This book is a precious gift, filled with insight, shared from heart to heart."—Thich Nhat Hanh

"True Refuge is a magnificent work of heart. For anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of the mind and how to improve the quality of their life, this book offers unique insights and easily learned practices that literally can transform your life's path. Read, explore, and enjoy!"—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of No-Drama Discipline

"This is a special book, lovely, loving, wise, and helpful. It is like having a sage and caring friend sit with you, offering comfort, insight, and guidance for your own true journey home."—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart

"A healing and helpful meditation . . . a gracefully written spiritual gem on awareness, refuge, and presence."—Spirituality & Practice

"[A] richly detailed, hopeful book . . . This accomplished example of spiritual self-help offers a gentle path for change in the face of suffering."Publishers Weekly

"This book is an undertaking and one that can change your life if you embrace it. It is heartfelt and practical . . . full of grit, honesty, and clarity."—Beliefnet
From the Hardcover edition.
How do you cope when facing life-threatening illness, family conflict, faltering relationships, old trauma, obsessive thinking, overwhelming emotion, or inevitable loss? If you're like most people, chances are you react with fear and confusion, falling back on timeworn strategies: anger, self-judgment, and addictive behaviors. Though these old, conditioned attempts to control our life may offer fleeting relief, ultimately they leave us feeling isolated and mired in pain.

There is another way. Beneath the turbulence of our thoughts and emotions exists a profound stillness, a silent awareness capable of limitless love. Tara Brach, author of the award-winning Radical Acceptance, calls this awareness our true refuge, because it is available to every one of us, at any moment, no exceptions. In this book, Brach offers a practical guide to finding our inner sanctuary of peace and wisdom in the midst of difficulty.

Based on a fresh interpretation of the three classic Buddhist gateways to freedom—truth, love, and awareness—True Refuge shows us the way not just to heal our suffering, but also to cultivate our capacity for genuine happiness. Through spiritual teachings, guided meditations, and inspirational stories of people who discovered loving presence during times of great struggle, Brach invites us to connect more deeply with our own inner life, one another, and the world around us.

True Refuge is essential reading for anyone encountering hardship or crisis, anyone dedicated to a path of spiritual awakening. The book reminds us of our own innate intelligence and goodness, making possible an enduring trust in ourselves and our lives. We realize that what we seek is within us, and regardless of circumstances, "there is always a way to take refuge in a healing and liberating presence."
Praise for True Refuge

"Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience as well as ten more years of personal experience on the path of awakening, Tara Brach's superb second book brings readers ever more deeply in touch with our true nature. This book is a precious gift, filled with insight, shared from heart to heart."—Thich Nhat Hanh

"True Refuge is a magnificent work of heart. For anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of the mind and how to improve the quality of their life, this book offers unique insights and easily learned practices that literally can transform your life's path. Read, explore, and enjoy!"—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of No-Drama Discipline

"This is a special book, lovely, loving, wise, and helpful. It is like having a sage and caring friend sit with you, offering comfort, insight, and guidance for your own true journey home."—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart

"A healing and helpful meditation . . . a gracefully written spiritual gem on awareness, refuge, and presence."—Spirituality & Practice

"[A] richly detailed, hopeful book . . . This accomplished example of spiritual self-help offers a gentle path for change in the face of suffering."Publishers Weekly

"This book is an undertaking and one that can change your life if you embrace it. It is heartfelt and practical . . . full of grit, honesty, and clarity."—Beliefnet
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    At the end of a daylong meditation workshop, Pam, a woman in her late sixties, drew me aside. She and her husband, Jerry, were at the end of an ordeal that had begun three years earlier. Now near death from lymphoma, Jerry had asked Pam to be his primary caregiver, the person guiding and supporting him in his passing. "Tara," she implored, "I really need some help."Pam was desperate to do anything she could for her husband. "I wanted so much to save him," she told me. "I looked into ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, every alternative treatment I could find, tracked every test result . . . We were going to beat this thing." She sat back wearily in her chair, shoulders slumped. "And now I'm keeping in touch with everyone, giving updates . . . coordinating hospice care. If he's not napping I try to make him comfortable, read to him . . ."

    I responded gently, "It sounds like you've been trying really hard to take good care of Jerry . . . and it's been very busy." At these words, she gave me a smile of recognition. "Hmm, busy. That sounds crazy, doesn't it?" She paused. "As far back as I can remember I've really been busy . . . But now . . . well, I just can't sit back and let him go without a fight."

    Pam was silent for a few moments and then she looked at me anxiously. "He could die any day now, Tara . . . Isn't there some Buddhist practice or ritual that I should learn? Is there something I should be reading? What about The Tibetan Book of the Dead? How can I help him with this . . . with dying?"

    Before answering, I asked her to listen inwardly, and to let me know what she was feeling. "I love him so much and I'm terrified that I'm going to let him down." She began weeping. After some time, she spoke again. "All my life I've been afraid of falling short, I guess I've always been on overdrive trying to do a better job. Now I'm afraid I'm going to fail at the thing that matters most. He'll die and I'll feel really alone, because I failed him."

    "Pam," I said, "you've already done so much . . . but the time for all that kind of activity is over. At this point, you don't have to make anything happen, you don't need to do anything." I waited a moment and then added, "Just be with him. Let him know your love through the fullness of your presence."

    At this difficult time I was calling on a simple teaching that is central to my work with my meditation students and therapy clients: It is through realizing loving presence as our very essence, through being that presence, that we discover true freedom. In the face of inevitable loss, this timeless presence brings healing and peace to our own hearts and to the hearts of others.

    Pam nodded. She and Jerry were Catholic, she told me, and the mindfulness practices they'd learned in my weekly class had helped them experience their faith more deeply. But Pam was now overwhelmed by Jerry's dramatic turn for the worse: "I know the hospice aides are doing everything they can to help, but I just feel like this shouldn't be happening--­so much exhaustion, so much pain. No one should have to go through something like this; it's just plain wrong." For Pam, as for so many people, sickness felt unfair, an enemy to be resisted. She was face-­to-­face with dukkha, the suffering in life.

    "In those most difficult moments," I suggested, "you might pause and recognize what you are feeling--­the fear or anger or grief--­and then inwardly whisper the phrase 'I consent.' " I'd recently heard this phrase from Father Thomas Keating, and thought that as a Catholic, Pam might find it particularly valuable. Saying "I consent," or as I more frequently teach, "yes," relaxes our...

About the Author-
  • Tara Brach, Ph.D., is the author of Radical Acceptance, 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. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia, with her husband, her mother, and three dogs.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 14, 2013
    In this richly detailed, hopeful book, Brach (Radical Acceptance) draws from the Buddhist concept of taking refuge to address unhappiness caused by the “trance of small self.” The author, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., argues that cultivating “presence”—an embodied awareness—can lead to healing. “Our ultimate refuge is none other than our own being,” she writes. A key mindfulness practice, RAIN—an acronym for recognize, allow, investigate inner experience, and nonidentification—guides exploration of difficult emotions to enhance openness, acceptance, and joy. Brach’s discussions of such topics as anger, forgiveness, trauma, obsessive thoughts, self-compassion, and loss are marked by acute observations and careful distinctions. Throughout she illustrates the path to wholeness with the experiences of her meditation students and therapy clients, as well as her own journey toward “loving life no matter what,” particularly with ongoing physical limitations. Guided meditations are included in each chapter. Rather than presenting a case for classic Buddhism, Brach grounds therapeutic goals for emotional health in Buddhist principles. This accomplished example of spiritual self-help offers a gentle path for change in the face of suffering. Agent: Anne Edelstein

  • Thich Nhat Hanh "Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience as well as ten more years of personal experience on the path of awakening, Tara Brach's superb second book brings readers ever more deeply in touch with our true nature. This book is a precious gift, filled with insight, shared from heart to heart."
  • Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of No-Drama Discipline "True Refuge is a magnificent work of heart. For anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of the mind and how to improve the quality of their life, this book offers unique insights and easily learned practices that literally can transform your life's path. Read, explore, and enjoy!"
  • Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart "This is a special book, lovely, loving, wise, and helpful. It is like having a sage and caring friend sit with you, offering comfort, insight, and guidance for your own true journey home."
  • Beliefnet "A healing and helpful meditation . . . a gracefully written spiritual gem on awareness, refuge, and presence."--Spirituality & Practice "[A] richly detailed, hopeful book . . . This accomplished example of spiritual self-help offers a gentle path for change in the face of suffering."--Publishers Weekly "This book is an undertaking and one that can change your life if you embrace it. It is heartfelt and practical. . . . full of grit, honesty, and clarity."
  • Mary Pipher, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Green Boat and Reviving Ophelia "Tara Brach writes from the heart to the heart. With candor and calmness, she shares her own and others' struggles to overcome our deep and constant human dilemmas. Whenever I read Brach, I feel more peaceful and hopeful. I trust myself and the universe more. I feel more connected and grounded in what the Lakota Sioux call Wakan Tanka, The Great Mystery. True Refuge is itself a refuge and I thank the author for it."
  • Congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation "Tara Brach has done it again. True Refuge inspires the confidence needed to face our deepest, most difficult emotions. With tenderness and understanding, she teaches us the practical techniques that can help us loosen the grip of these emotions and arrive at a place of peace and basic goodness which is our essential nature. As more and more citizens learn and practice these techniques, it can begin a transformation that will allow a kinder, compassionate, and more mindful nation to emerge."
  • Belleruth Naparstek, author of Invisible Heroes and creator of the Health Journeys guided imagery audio series "There is something very special about this exquisitely written book--its clarity, beauty, simplicity, and humanity practically sing to you. Inspiring and uplifting to read, it also has eminently practical, implementable, step-by-step guidance to practice and live by. And the fifteen brief, powerful guided meditations offer an easy, gentle entry toward inner peace and wisdom. While turning the pages, I thought of a half dozen people who could really use this book as a friendly, loving reference point--myself included!"
  • Kristin Neff, Ph.D., author of Sel "This is a beautifully written book that directly taps into the beating heart of wisdom and compassion. It offers useful, pragmatic advice on how to deepen one's mindfulness practice and have greater self-compassion when faced with suffering. A wonderful follow-up to Radical Acceptance, this is a must-read for anyone who wants to develop greater insight and open-heartedness in their life."
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Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart
Tara Brach
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