Our brain has hundreds of strategies for resisting emotional pain. But according to psychologist and renowned Buddhist Tara Brach, resisting pain only increases our suffering.
She advocates another solution: actually engaging what’s emotionally painful. It’s a process she calls cultivating deliberate practice. Here, she talks about the personal and professional benefits this practice yields.
“Our survival-oriented brain makes it hard for us to stay with the places that are difficult inside us,” Tara writes in her Networker article. “We don’t want to be with unpleasantness. We have all sorts of clever strategies to resist emotional pain. The practice of self-compassion means training ourselves to quiet our minds, stay with our experience, and remind ourselves to come into the body and heart.”
Tara Brach, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, an internationally known teacher of mindfulness meditation, and the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. She is author of bestselling Radical Acceptance and True Refuge, and leads accredited workshops for mental health professionals interested in integrating meditation into the practice of psychotherapy. Tara offers meditation retreats at centers in the United States and in Europe. Her podcasted talks and meditations are downloaded about a million times each month. In addition to her public teaching, Tara is active in bringing meditation into DC area schools, prisons and to underserved populations, and in activities that promote racial justice.
Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.