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Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  20,836 ratings  ·  1,151 reviews
For many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much--just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work--to make us feel that we are not okay. Beginning to understand how our lives have become ensnared in this trance of unworthiness is our first step toward reconnecting w ...more
Paperback, 333 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Bantam (first published October 1st 2000)
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John Newman I've meditated on an off for decades. I started back when I was a teenager and a martial arts student, following Zen and Taoist esoteric traditions. I…moreI've meditated on an off for decades. I started back when I was a teenager and a martial arts student, following Zen and Taoist esoteric traditions. I have also studied, and utilized, DBT, and her connection with that form of therapy is unmistakable. I really enjoy most of the "guided" meditations in the book, and her examples and stories are quite illuminating. (less)

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Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
How do we cope with unbearable pain? We drink, we eat, we smoke. We turn to our iPhones or our Facebook feeds or our video games. We lash out at ourselves or others. But what if instead of searching for external solutions, we learned how to cope with our pain - just by being with it? In her book Radical Acceptance, clinical psychologist and teacher of meditation Tara Brach urges us to do just that: accept ourselves and our pain, so we can treat ourselves with the care and kindness we deserve.

Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
Not overly impressive, but a nice and helpful book. Brach writes a treatise on how the integration of Buddhist spirituality and meditative practices (most often based in the Theravadan traditions of vipassana and metta) can partner with western psychotherapy to assist in healing and personal development.

Intellectually it is pretty lightweight, which isn’t to say that it doesn’t package and reiterate some helpful ideas in useful ways. My biggest challenge with the book was that I couldn’t really
Krishna Chaitanya
I heard about Tara Brach for the first time in the book Tools of Titans and that's how I ended up reading this wonderful book.

Radical acceptance is about accepting what life offers, as it is. That does not mean, you should be non-reactive to whatever bad comes your way, it's about becoming self-aware in tough situations, pay attention to the negative emotions within and take care of these emotions to become mindful and at peace.

At times anyone would have had a feeling of unworthiness, fear of re
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A friend had recommended Tara Brach's work to me, and I found this book to be very insightful and meaningful. Recommended for those interested in self-compassion and mindfulness. ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think the perceptions of this book are directly related to the suffering and innate self hatred that the reader possesses. When the concept of lovingkindness is absolutely foreign to you then this book can save your life.

Something I absolutely cherish about this book is kind and gentle repetition. I would read a concept and compartmentalize it as something I either had heard before, already knew, or couldn't possibly work. Then she'd reintroduce the same concept with a case study, a personal
Alex Orr
To some degree, I think what you get out of this book depends on what issues you are dealing with and what brought you to the book. Like a lot of folks, I heard about Tara from Tim Ferris's podcast. I enjoyed her episode and picked up the book mostly out of curiosity. I've been meditating for about a year and have been curious about ways to try and practice greater mindfulness in my everyday life. Tara's book does offer some insight into those areas, but the primary focus of the book is more dir ...more
Jack Hart
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: meditation

One sometimes runs into folks who are suspicious of Buddhism and particularly of the capacity of westerners to find solace in an allegedly Buddhist perspective. I am not a Buddhist, but have found a lot of value in meditation--and in the ethical viewpoint roughly associated with Buddhist practice.

So if the discussion comes to exchanging book titles this is the one I recommend as an introduction to what I'll roughly call a Buddhist approach to suffering. There are better books on meditation. The
This book offers much more than it first seems to. From introducing the Buddhist practice of mindfulness as applied to difficult experiences, it deepens and opens out into practices of radical compassion for oneself and others - radical lovingkindness. Working & practicing my way through this book very slowly over four months' time has been a tremendous gift. Tara Brach begins by teaching a new way of approaching emotionally intolerable situations - being overwhelmed and practically nonfunctiona ...more
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
So I don't usually read self-help books. At all. I kinda hate them. And I don't usually read hippy dippy Buddhist stuff either, because I get too scoffy.

When I started this one, I almost didn't go past the first chapter, because it was not really resonating with me at all. And parts of the book (like the closing chapter on discovering our true essence and realizing we are nothing but awareness..... super hippy dippy) totally fell flat.

But there were a few key sections, and really the overarchi
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Kripalu Yoga is primarily a practice of compassion, and this book is it's perfect companion. The foundation of all yoga practice is acceptance, and it begins with ourselves. Feelings of deficiency are common to all of us. Being criticized, making mistakes, and experiencing relationship difficulties, all can make us feel unworthy. Our human suffering and our loneliness keep us from feeling fulfilled. Recognizing how we become trapped by these feelings is the first step in reconnecting with who we ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lavonne by: Jennifer
Shelves: toptenspiritual
I have tried twice to read the Power of Now, and could never quite grasp what all the fuss was about. This book, Radical Acceptance, delivered the insights that I was supposed to get from the other book. It is basically talking about the same subjects, but Tara Brach brings a humanity to her approach that is sadly missing in Power of Now.

She has been persuing a spiritual path for many years and speaks with knowledge and compasison. Yet, she admits that when she is continuously approached by a d
Sep 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
I like the message a lot. I've just always had an aversion to books that relate to the reader though anecdotes about patients and clients. "This lesson brings to mind my patient Daniel, who was struggling with..." every chapter is filled with these. They left me feeling like I was in a Dale Carnegie Buddhism class. That's not bad, really, but this style of writing rings inauthentic.

Brach's teaching and meditations, minus this, would have made for a better read. Many people will like her relatab
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book on accepting one's self and life exactly as they are (thus creating the possibility of change). Brach provides many wonderful meditations which I've already begun using and find very helpful.

The writing is clear and warm and easy to follow. It would be a fast read if there weren't so much to pay attention to. I was also slowed up because I stopped to use her different suggestions.

I also enjoyed her use of the examples of other people and their struggles (as well as their succes
Donna Kirk
about recognizing, with compassion, your own weaknesses and in the end, finding room to accept them and treat them with love; in effect, healing yourself.

It's like going over to a suffering plant in a garden and tending to it with care, feeding the soil, doing away with pests, giving it compost, sunlight, water; is, metaphorically, how this book suggests we deal with our own fragile, deeply human lives -- that by encouraging our friends and families to take care of themselves the same way, we c
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I tried to read this a second time and while it does have some nice points, it's nothing new to anyone who has ever read a book (or a dozen!) on mindfulness, Buddhism, etc.

Also, I always find it super depressing that people who have meditated for decades, and lead workshops and write entire books on the subject still deal daily with anger, depression, anxiety, etc. I know it's just part of being human and I should radically accept it, but man, does it get me down...
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
If I pause and accept any more radically than I have come to realize I do, my husband will divorce me and my kids will starve.
Joe Rumbo
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've only read the previous edition, but I am here to tell you that Brach brings a message that is welcome tonic to the soul of anyone who has ever felt inadequate or unworthy for any reason. Usually these reasons have to do with culturally defined standards and ideals that no person can ever live up to fully. Brach skillfully weaves these influences together with psychological and Christianity-based explanations of how we live our lives in the 'trance of unworthiness,' and how we can move beyon ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Radical acceptance was suggested to me by my therapist, and since I’ve started listening to the audiobook, I’ve gone back to parts of it over and over. It's been enlightening more than any other self-help book I’ve read (which are not many, to be fair).

I'm not particularly spiritual, or good at sitting still and meditating. But, since I've been listening to this book, I've made more efforts throughout the day to hold a caring thought to my body and myself, especially in the moments in which I d
I listened to this after Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed and they went together really nicely. Brach is a therapist, but she's also a follower of Buddhism and weaves spiritual lessons and understandings with western therapeutic practices. I was really into this -- not all of it was new to me, and in fact, not much was because of my own background in this arena -- but it became outstanding when Brach talked about why there's a false dichotomy w ...more
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Full marks for the gist and low marks for the execution. A little too self-helpy and over-written, yet the idea of bringing radical acceptance/compassion to ourselves and others is pretty much the only hope for emotional sanity in this world. But for content, economy, and grace, I'm finding Ezra Bayda's "Being Zen" to be a huge improvement. Let's just say Bayda's book is going on my shelves when I'm done. Brach's book is going to ...more
Heather Delia
Feb 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: yoga
I disliked this book enough to stop reading it with 75 pages left to go. No compelling reason to finish it. The meditations were nice, if someone were reading them...but you can't read it and meditate at the same time. I found the book to be very repetitive and somewhat annoying. ...more
I've been studying Buddhism since I went to India in 2006 to learn from Geshe Sonam Rinchen at the Tibetan Library and Archives in Dharmasala, India, and with the Dalai Lama at a mass teaching. Translating a religion from one culture to another is an immense task, and one that has been happening seriously for Buddhism the only in the last fifty years or so.

I first came to Buddhism because I was raised by an atheist and a new ager, and wanted to be part of an organized religion but felt uncomfor
Jenn "JR"
These days, it feels like emotional reasoning and unchecked emotional responses are endorsed and increasingly seen as the default or "right" way of behaving. We are encouraged to indulge in whatever we want and feel as being our right and the best way of being in the world. I can't help but think that's not right -- and all the books I have read about leadership, emotional development, connecting with people and meditation recommend a higher level of self awareness and just taking a pause before ...more
Beverly Fox
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, self-help
I picked up this book because it seemed like a more mindful exploration of Self Compassion, and the prologue certainly leads one to believe that this is the case. She speaks of her own struggles with the behaviors that keep us all trapped in an endless loop of trying to prove ourselves good enough to a critic (ourselves) that will never approve. And she offers meditation- true Buddhist meditation practices akin to what I imagine are used in ashrams and monasteries across the world- as the path t ...more
Sandy Plants
I found it difficult to finish this book... I found a lot of wisdom in it but I also felt frustrated with it most of the time.

My judgement is that it would have been more effective if it were half the length (or maybe a 20 page leaflet). There were just too many stories for my liking (I acknowledge that they were triggering for me: they reminded me of all the used-car-salesmen-looking pastors I used to have to listen to every Sunday growing up who used story after story to badger their point hom
Jenny Whetzel
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was taking DBT weekly group meetings where we practiced awareness. I recently stopped going as I "graduated." However, I soon realized I began to lack the precious skills I had learned. I began to read this at a slow pace, thinking that every so often I could refresh my memory and pick up my slack in that department. It helped.

One reason I wanted to read this was because there are many parts in my life which I have difficulty accepting. I have already been working on accep
John Hannam
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A truly fantastic book.

For anyone struggling with mental health issues this is an excellent resource and wealth of support. I cannot emphasize the importance self-care is for someone to maintain a healthy mental state. This book provides insights into how we can approach all aspects of our life, develop lasting positive relationships, and fully engage in a world that desperately wants us to show up.

Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, this is a self-help book I can get behind! Brach is a psychotherapist and it really shows. And I mean that in a good way! Listening to the audiobook was like therapy. I've implemented some of the things I learned from this book into my own life and things are going great. I particularly liked how she incorporated real stories into the book. Made it so much more relatable. Definitely recommend this book!! ...more
Feisty Harriet
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I listened to this in the 2 days leading up to the 2020 election, and there was a lot of helpful bits I learned, and quite a bit that didn't resonate with me. THAT ALL BEING SAID, I want a paper copy of this to mark up and study, because I feel like there are some components that I want to incorporate into my daily life (I almost said "daily practice" but, let's be honest, part of my general angst/problem is that I *don't* have a daily practice of any kind, and perhaps I need one (question mark? ...more
Jenny Xu
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was a compassionate look into why we are so harsh on ourselves and how to forgive. I’m not Buddhist but I found the reading fairly insightful though a bit long.
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Tara Brach is a leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 40 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation. Tara is the senior teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. A clinical psychologist, Tara is the author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing ...more

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“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” 164 likes
“Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.” 136 likes
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