compassion

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach

Some years ago, I found myself at an unbearable crossroads: my family was struggling with the imminent death of a dear loved one and I was incapable of showing any sign of support or empathy. I refused to show any interest in my step-father’s illness and suffering, and I assumed my mother and my sister to be unreasonable in their struggles. I judged them, sometimes openly. I felt detached, and I liked to think it was a proof of my resilience. Truth is, I was hiding from the reality. I was blocking my feelings for fear of being overwhelmed. And it made me all the more judgmental towards others who were suffering.

It was during that same time that I started studying meditation, which I thought would lead me further into being detached and unreachable. I was seeking protection, yet what I discovered was the opposite. When my cold-heartedness was confronted in meditation, my teacher suggested I read Radical Acceptance by psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach. To this day, I credit this great work for giving me myself back and for setting me on a path of love and care in my relationships.

What I discovered was that freedom can only happen if you surrender to your truth, if you recognize your suffering and grant yourself compassion. In this wonderfully written book, Tara Brach explains that we suffer from our own perceived inadequacy or unworthiness, which we then migrate to our feelings towards others. She offers Radical Acceptance as an alternative, which conjugates two wings: clear recognition or mindfulness and compassionate presence. Mindfulness requires that you stay present and recognize whatever is unfolding as it truly is. This is easier said than done especially if, like me, you prefer to think yourself in such-and-such a way rather than feel yourself as you are. And that’s when compassion is essential, essential to healing and genuine relationships.

Compassion is our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive. Instead of resisting our feelings of fear or grief, we embrace our pain with the kindness of a mother holding her child. Rather than judging or indulging our desire for attention or chocolate or sex, we regard our grasping with gentleness and care. Compassion honors our experience; it allows us to be intimate with the life of this moment as it is. Compassion makes our acceptance wholehearted and complete.
— Tara Brach

In Radical Acceptance, compassion is first and foremost a form of self-kindness, which in turn allows us to be genuinely caring and compassionate towards others. In this book, you will find insightful approaches to compassion and self-acceptance, which are supported by authentic examples and simple meditations anyone can practice at home.