On being radical


"I am larger and better than I thought.
I did not think I held so much goodness."

Walt Whitman

Reverb 2012: Best book you read in 2012. Describe its impact on you.

This is usually a tough one. I mean, really - the best book from the year 2012? But, after asking myself this question, I knew immediately which book I wanted to write about.

By far, the best book I read in 2012 was Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. I could not have picked a better book to read as I braced myself for my 35th birthday. It split my heart open in the gentlest and most touching ways.

The most touching came in the form of a simple suggestion - a gesture. Whenever you experience pain or confusion, place your hand over your heart and tell yourself, I care about this suffering.

Think about that for a second. Imagine, instead of criticizing yourself or trying to push all your emotions down, you paused and simply acknowledged you were in pain? This simple act of acceptance and recognition has had a powerful impact on me. I've used this gesture numerous times when I've found myself lost in confusion or when I've experienced a particularly painful emotion. It is what Tara calls, radical acceptance - an unconditional and loving presence to whatever is happening in that moment.

What's even more amazing about this gesture, is that when I acknowledge my own pain, I begin to connect more deeply with the pain of others. I realize, I am not alone. What has gradually unfolded (and is still unfolding) is compassion and a deep sense of belonging. Something, despite all our fear and cynicism, I think we all long for. 


Tara Talks: This Moment Counts from Tara Brach on Vimeo.