“When our life is falling apart in some way, we want to feel some sense of being held by something larger.  We’re all looking for refuge in some way.

Because we have this very primal conditioning to grasp on to things and to push things away, we tend to latch on to what I call false refuge, which is a way of finding comfort or protection or ease that is temporary because it just doesn’t deliver in the long run.

Trying to prove ourselves to other people, trying to get approval, having to be right–those are false refuges.  All the ways that we over consume, whether it’s over consuming food or drugs or alcohol, it’s just filling ourselves. Those are false refuge. Blaming or judging ourselves or others is a false refuge…

The first gateway to true refuge really is, when it feels painful, when there is fear, when there is hurt, when there is loss, to learn to stay.  To learn to stay means to step out of all the circling thoughts and enter with integrity into the embodied experience – to the squeeze in the heart and the heat in the body or the feeling of tightness or ache or whatever it is, just to stay.

I found over and over again that in the moments that I would choose to stay in that presence, I found a space and tenderness that shifted my whole sense of who I was. Every time I stayed with something difficult, I shifted from being kind of the victim or the oppressed one that was struggling with all the loss, to this space of loving presence that felt like home.

There is this deep and timeless presence that can be with the different losses and so on.

I call that the first gateway to true refuge because there is no way to make peace with our lives other than staying with what’s here.”

 –Tara Brach, from our conversation about True Refuge.

Tara Brach a meditation teacher, a pyschotherapist, and a wise teacher whose writing I have come to love. I especially love her latest work about how we seek false refuge – and about how we can come to rest in a refuge that is true.

Click here to learn more about Tara Brach. You can download her free guided meditations here. Click here to get her new book, True Refuge.

Listen to our whole conversation below! We talk about false refuges (and which ones we both seek), how we can find true refuge in the midst of life’s difficulties, and much more.

Download as Mp3 Interview with Tara Brach


Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Virginia says:

    Thanks Tara x2 :-), beautiful words! Exactly what I needed to read & question myself this morning. I would like more clarity on being present with what’s going on inside or what you call “learn to stay”. I’m a very independent person and introverted. In good times there’s nothing that propels me more than fear but when I’m overwhelmed hiding and food is the best escape. Thanks!

  • Gwendolyn says:

    I love Tara Brach and have three cd’s of hers called, “Radical Self Acceptance”. They are great! I’ve done some really long car trips and marinated in them. Excited to spend some more time with her! thanks, Tara! This is a huge part of the healing and wellness work I do and essential to getting out of chronic illness.

  • One says:

    I completely disagree. Staying in a domestic
    Violent situation is not peaceful. Staying
    in a relationship with toxic family member
    Sucks you dry of all positive fiber.
    I spent 10 years trying to be peaceful
    In two separate situations! You can only
    Change yourself! Trying to make others
    Change to the positive and staying patient
    And helpful for 10 years sucked me dry!
    My advice from Donald Trump ” you can only
    Help those who want to listen and put action
    to words”. My advice cut out toxic people!
    You are the summation of the five closest
    People around you! If you feel that “pit”
    Cut it out!!! Be good to people always but
    You don’t have to stay in darkness!
    Run to the light!

  • June says:

    Though I have yet to read Brach’s work, this sounds similar to the remarkable Pema Chodron’s immensely wise and helpful book, When Things Fall Apart. In fact, Chodron continues to revisit this idea in many of her writings, all enormously helpful, regardless of whether or not you are Buddhist. More here, or you can look up her books on-line: http://pemachodronfoundation.org/

  • Jennifer says:

    You’re absolutely right, and I think Brach would agree with you. If you listen to her talks, or read her work, you’ll find she actually addresses that very issue and clarifies that she’s not encouraging people to stay in harmful situations, but merely to stay with their FEELINGS about those situations. She also makes clear that for some people who have experienced severe trauma, even this advice isn’t always applicable.

  • Jennifer says:

    LOVE Tara Brach. She’s actually how I found out about YOU! 😉

  • Jennifer says:

    “When Things Fall Apart” changed my life. If you like Chodron, I think you’d also enjoy Brach’s dharma talks. (offered freely on her website)

  • […] must listen. I have the book on its […]

  • Henna Inam says:

    Hi Tara and Tara – I so enjoyed the words of Tara Brach. I’ve experienced what she talks about “staying with the discomfort”…and when it is fully experienced what it gives birth to.

    Thank you for sharing.


  • Pamela says:

    I just discovered your site this morning, and have already linked it to my blog to follow your posts. This post on refuge particularly resonates with me right now. Without going into all the details of why, I believe I was guided here this morning. I have yet to read Tara Brach, but I plan to, and perhaps her available meditation teachings will help me, as I am trying to work meditation into my life to quiet all the raging energies inside. I am trying to learn to be quiet, so that I can hear my Inner Guidance, and then develop the strength to follow my instincts. I am thankful for the guides who brought me here this morning.

  • sophie_davidson@fr.ibm.com says:

    You have no idea how much this helps me

  • […] Tara Sophia Mohr interviewed Ms. Brach, which brought the book to my attention again. Last week, our Adventures in Seeing group focused on […]

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