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Tara Brach’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. The result is a distinctive voice in Western Buddhism, one that offers a wise and caring approach to freeing ourselves and society from suffering.
As an undergraduate at Clark University, Tara pursued a double major in psychology and political science. During this time, while working as a grass roots organizer for tenants’ rights, she also began attending yoga classes and exploring Eastern approaches to inner transformation. After college, she lived for ten years in an ashram—a spiritual community—where she practiced and taught both yoga and concentrative meditation. When she left the ashram and attended her first Buddhist Insight Meditation retreat, led by Joseph Goldstein, she realized she was home. “I had found wisdom teachings and practices that train the heart and mind in unconditional and loving presence,” she explains. “I knew that this was a path of true freedom.”
Over the following years, Tara earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Fielding Institute, with a dissertation exploring meditation as a therapeutic modality in treating addiction. She went on to complete a five-year Buddhist teacher training program at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, under the guidance of Jack Kornfield. Working as both a psychotherapist and a meditation teacher, she found herself naturally blending these two powerful traditions—introducing meditation to her therapy clients and sharing western psychological insights with meditation students. This synthesis has evolved, in more recent years, into Tara’s groundbreaking work in training psychotherapists to integrate mindfulness strategies into their clinical work.
In 1998, Tara founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW), which is now one of the largest and most dynamic non-residential meditation centers in the United States. She gives presentations, teaches classes, offers workshops, and leads silent meditation retreats at IMCW and at conferences and retreat centers across North America. Her themes reveal the possibility of emotional healing and spiritual awakening through mindful, loving awareness as well as the alleviation of suffering in the larger world by practicing compassion in action. She helped create the Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship and has fostered efforts to bring principles and practices of mindfulness to issues of diversity, peace, and environmental sustainability, as well as to prisons and schools. Recently, she co-founded the DC-based Meditation Teacher Training Institute to help address the growing demand for the teachings of mindfulness and compassion.
In addition to numerous articles, videos, and hundreds of recorded talks, Tara is the author of the book Radical Acceptance (2003) and True Refuge: Finding Peace & Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (Bantam, 2013). She has a son, Narayan, and lives in Great Falls, VA, with her husband, Jonathan Foust; their 2 dogs; and her mother, Nancy Brach.