Saturday, March 30, 2013

Meeting Tara Brach - The "Sacred Pause"

I should not be surprised by the synchronicity that abounds in my life. In the opening pages of Priscilla Warner's book, "Learning to Breathe:My Yearlong Quest To Bring Calm To My Life", she mentions Tara Brach. I googled her about a year ago and began following her on Facebook and on her blog. I was astounded to learn that she has experienced debilitating illness in her life as she wrote in her blog "Letting Life Live Through Us," and most recently, "Happy For No Reason."

Tom recently joined the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. He told me that Tara Brach was coming to speak but it was sold out. The next day he forwarded me an email that we could have audio only seats to hear her talk. I jumped right on it and registered us for the talk.

We arrived early (no surprise there for you who know me well) and were blessed to find a parking space in the lot behind the Center. As soon as I walked through the gate,

I felt tears streaming down my face. There was a beautiful sacred energy present in the garden. I felt the mysticism of the time between winter and Spring. There was a 45 minute sitting meditation before Tara's talk.

I am going to make you all laugh now. I, along with everyone else, was deep in meditation when my phone went off. I could have sworn that I had turned it off before meditation began but sometimes it doesn't 'take'. I jumped and said, "oh my God." I quickly turned it off and noticed that it was near the end of our meditation time but still.... I started to laugh thinking that here I am, my first time at the Center and they are going to toss me out. Tom started laughing because I was laughing but with deep breathing we returned to our meditative states.

After meditation we checked in for the talk. It was quite an experience to not have the visual of the speaker. It actually helped me to be more present in the moment focusing on what Tara was saying rather than having any visual distractions. She began by talking about resting in the fullness of who we are and intentionally opening our hearts to create an atmosphere of kindness and compassion for ourselves. She talked a lot about the trance of unworthiness and how we use deficiency as a filter for our relationships to ourselves and others. Fear gets in the way of giving ourselves wholeheartedly.

She then began our first of several short guided seated meditations with this poem:

by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

Tara talked with us about freedom and how, when we react, we are not free. Quoting Victor Frankl she said,

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

So in our next meditation we were to focus on a situation in our personal relationships in which we experienced irritation. She prepared us for the meditation by saying how our sickness is a homesickness - a longing to return to our Divine selves; the part of ourselves that is mystery and vastness. "When we come into form," she said, "we experience a separateness perception." She begged the question, "How do we forget the wildness of God that is in each one of us?"

As we went through the next two meditations, Tara focused on the sacred pause guiding us to tending and befriending. It was so easy for me to take notes and integrate what she was saying because I'd been reading her blog for over a year now. What a blessing to hear her speak the words so that they could really settle into my cells and my soul. She held a sacred space with her Divine, tender, compassionate Being.

Tara talked about the two wings of homecoming which she wrote about in her blog, "Unfolding Wings of Acceptance." What is happening and can I let it be....

All that I have been working on these past several months seemed to come together for me. I experienced a deep healing in my heart while feeling a flood of compassion and loving kindness flow through me. Tears streamed down my face during our meditation and I felt an incredible softening of my Being when once I experienced so much aversion to all that had happened to me. It's hard to believe that you can surrender to horrific circumstances but as Tara clarified last night -- You are not saying yes to the content of what happened - you are saying yes that it did happen. "The gift of recognizing and allowing are the wings of awakening," she tenderly and loving said to us. "Get that sense of the oceanness of your being and include the waves."

I had no idea that I would get to meet Tara after the talk but she was doing a book signing for True Refuge.

I introduced myself to her and told her how I came to learn about her work through Priscilla Warner. My voice broke as I said to her, "I had paralytic polio as a child. Six years ago I was in a wheelchair and your blog has been an incredible support to me on my healing journey." We locked eyes and her eyes filled with tears. She has the most incredible deep blue eyes and when I looked into them, I saw God and I felt God within myself. We were the mirror for each other's souls knowing each other without needing to say a word. It was indeed a sacred moment. I experienced the mystery and the vastness that she talked about earlier that evening.

She said using her hands for expression "But you look so amazing." I commented, "I have been so blessed with healing. In her talk she mentioned what a wondrous time this is... "We are coming up on the 100th monkey -- the critical mass of people becoming engaged in mindfulness practices." I am so blessed and grateful that I had the opportunity to share those sacred moments of mindfulness in the presence of the community at CIMC and with Tara Brach.

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