Children: one son. Education: Ph.D. Religion: Buddhist.
Office—8129 Hamilton Spring Road, Bethesda, MD 20817.
Clinical psychologist, educator, and lecturer. Meditation teacher, 1975—, psychotherapist, 1980—, clinical psychologist, 1994—. Founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2003.
In addition to her career as a clinical psychologist, Tara Brach has been a meditation teacher since 1975. She founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., one of the largest meditation centers on the East Coast. She is a lay Buddhist priest and lecturer who conducts workshops at the Omega Institute, Spirit Rock Center, the New York Open Center, and other meditation centers.
Her first book, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, acknowledges an affliction she notices in her clinical patients and meditation students—deep feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy she feels can be fueled by the competitiveness of Western society. These feelings can paralyze a person's mental health and potential happiness. One of Brach's friends described it as "feeling that something is wrong with me is the invisible and toxic gas I am always breathing."
Brach presents her strategy of radical acceptance to combat the "trance of unworthiness." Her approach blends psychology and Buddhist practices, and Library Journal contributor Mark Woodhouse felt Brach's "tone is more logical and oriented toward psychology. While experienced practitioners will recognize her concepts, drawn largely from Insight Meditation, the language and methodology and the numerous case studies tend to blur the distinctions between clinical psychology and Buddhist practice."
Brach uses personal stories, case histories, Buddhist tales, meditations at the end of chapters, snippets of poetry, and exercises to learn compassion and acceptance to override extreme self-judgment. The exercises encourage consciousness of every moment, while accepting everything, to learn to perceive situations and feelings clearly. Another key to acceptance is learning to open up to compassion. Brach stresses that radical acceptance does not mean losing motivation for change. Brach includes success stories of those who have used the lessons and changed their thinking for the better. After learning to accept themselves, only then were they able to make the changes.
Radical Acceptace garnered praise from critics. In a review from spiritualityhealth.com Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote, "The spiritual practices in Radical Acceptance arrive like manna from heaven." A Publishers Weekly reviewer agreed: "Garnishing her gentle advice and guided meditation with beautiful bits of poetry and well-loved dharma stories…Brach describes what it can mean to…belong to the world." The reviewer continued, "This is a consoling and practical guide that can help people find a light within themselves."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, May 15, 2003, review of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, p. 95.
Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2003, review of Radical Acceptance, p. 63.
Dharma,http://www.dharma.org/ (October 23, 2003), Adah Miller, review of Radical Acceptance.
Healing Outside the Margins,http://www.healingoutsidethemargins.com/ (October 23, 2003), short bio.
Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C.,http://www.imcw.org/ (October 23, 2003), book description and short bio.
Omega Institute,http://www.eomega.org/ (October 23, 2003), short bio.
Spirituality & Health,http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/ (October 23, 2003), Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, review of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.*