Thursday, March 9, 2017

PSYCH: The Trance of Unworthiness (video)

Dhr. Seven and Amber Larson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly; Tori DeAngelis (American Psychological Association,, Feb. 2014, Vol. 45, No. 2); Dr. Tara Brach, Ph.D. (True Refuge/YouTube)
Psychology's famous Ziggy Freud, who originated psychotherapy, had a couch. This is it. Note the exquisite Buddha head figures next to his chair (
Tara Brach
Buddhist meditation and mindfulness teacher Psychologist Tara Brach draws fans from high schools, prisons, even the legislative offices of Capitol Hill.

A Blend of Buddhism and Psychology
When Dr. Tara Brach speaks, a lot of people listen. Even when she doesn't speak, they listen -- or simply join her in silence.
Brach is a popular presenter at spiritual centers across the country, leading about 10 workshops and two or three meditation retreats each year.

Followers in more than 150 countries download her talks and guided meditations for free and devour her best-selling CDs and books, including her 2013 book True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart, which discusses how people can find "their true home" -- what Brach calls "a timeless, loving presence" -- under even the most challenging conditions.

"What I have found over time is that the more I can recognize what is happening in the present moment and simply open and allow the experience without judgment, the more I come back home."
Her approach blends Buddhist and psychological teachings in ways that are easy for people to apply in their daily lives, say colleagues.
"Tara has an incredible ability to bring the teachings alive with stories that are personal, that show she is vulnerable, but at the same time, not make them about her, but about others' development," says Cheri Maples of the Center for Mindfulness and Justice, a non-sectarian training center for criminal justice professionals and others.
Over the last decade, Brach's teachings and writings have helped to inspire a line of research that has made mindfulness techniques more mainstream, says one such researcher, University of Toronto psychologist Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D.

(Tara Brach) "Awakening from Trance: Embracing Unlived Life" recorded August 26, 2015.
When physical or emotional pain is too much, our conditioning is to pull away and avoid direct contact with raw feelings. The result is a trance: we are split off from the wholeness of our aliveness, intelligence, and capacity to love. This talk explores how dissociation shows up in our lives and a powerful way that mindfulness enables us to integrate cut-off parts of our being.
He was a key founder of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, an approach that uses mindfulness techniques to prevent depression relapse, first outlined with colleagues J. Mark G. Williams, DPhil, and John D. Teasdale, Ph.D., in a 2000 article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
"Coming at a time when the field was still grappling with how mindfulness and compassion practices could be integrated into clinical treatment, Tara's work was profoundly influential," Segal says.

"The trance of unworthiness"
Brach came to her path by studying psychology, meditation, and yoga, as well as by examining her own life and conflicts, which include a 1991 divorce, a 2003 diagnosis of a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue and a family that -- like her -- is "neurotic as hell," she laughs.

Now 60, Brach experienced an "aha!" moment at age 22 as a psychology and political science student at Clark University.

While on a camping trip, a friend told her she was "learning how to be her own best friend." Hearing this, Brach burst into tears, she remembers.

"I realized I was just the opposite. Everywhere I looked I had another judgment about myself: I was a bad daughter, I was a bad friend, I was too heavy, I couldn't control my eating, I wasn't doing what I could be doing academically, I didn't help the world enough," she says.

That observation led to an ongoing attempt to understand and free herself and others from what Brach has come to call "the trance of unworthiness." It's a particularly strong habit in the West, she thinks, because our competitive, individualistic culture pressures us to feel we're never good enough.

To pursue healing and explore her spirituality, Brach decided to move into an ashram after college. For 10 years, she lived in this spiritual community, teaching at the ashram's yoga center, and working in a vegetarian restaurant to stay afloat.

She immersed herself in practicing yoga, breath-based meditation, and devotional chanting, which quieted some of her mental obsessing and helped her gain more openheartedness and peace.

While still living in the ashram, she began graduate school at the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, California, where she earned her doctorate in clinical psychology in 1991. More

Buddhism and Psychology?
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