A quick note before we dive into my book notes from Radical Compassion. If you’re dealing with a difficult situation or emotions that seem to keep getting the best of you, there are trusted professionals and resources available to help you. A book is never a replacement for professional help. But I know from firsthand experience that reading others’ experiences and learning practical methods can help you find the words to share what you’re experiencing with a professional. Seek help first. The books will always be there for you afterward.
I picked up the audiobook of Radical Compassion by Tara Brach because I had read Radical Acceptance last year.
This book dove into some deeply rooted beliefs, emotions, and feelings. Now that I’ve finished the book, I can really tell how much it affected me. This book has a lot of spiritual guidance on dealing with difficult emotions with compassion. Still, it was a heavy read for me. I’m struggling a little to put these notes together because my feelings are all over the place.
I think current COVID-19 events play a role in these feelings. In the author’s chapter on fear, she evens mentions the potential of managing fear that is brought on because of a global crisis. It was relevant, to say the least.
About the Book
The author, Tara Brach, uses the RAIN framework to guide you toward self-compassion through meditation. The RAIN acronym stands for: Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture. She introduces and breaks down each step of rain with so much compassion this book more than lives up to its name.
I found that the audiobook was recorded at a “thoughtful” pace. So I bumped it up to 1.25x and eventually 1.5x. I rarely listen to books that fast, but for this one, it never sounded like supersonic speed.
The audiobook format fits well with the content because there are several guided meditations throughout the text. Rather than reading them to yourself, you have Tara Brach guiding you through each meditation. Each chapter has at least one guided meditation, but most included multiple meditations. There are also plenty of reflections, as well as answers to questions you may be thinking as you read.
Notes and Takeaways
At first, I was worried that this book was getting to be too spiritual for me. It gently covers how to recognize what’s going on in your mind and body, and the practical applications I found kept me from giving up on this book.
Early on, the author tells the story of a golden Buddha that was found by some monks. The monks didn’t know that it was pure gold as the statue was covered in clay. A relic that looked ordinary was actually priceless underneath. Tara Brach compares the clay that covered the statue to wearing an “ego spacesuit” – a protective covering that we give ourselves that actually hides who we are.
I enjoyed the chapter that covered dealing with the distance between where you are and where you want to be (or where you think you may want to be). She offers a few suggestions on how to come back to the present moment and to let go of FOMO. I like how she replaces FOMO with the idea of “endless pursuit.” But she also emphasizes how to come back to the notion that life is enough in this moment and to let go of continually chasing the next outcome.
Favorite Quotes (Tara Brach)
“Trance is below the line. Presence is above the line.“
“Our issues are in our tissues.”
“We have just these precious moments.”
“Turn toward love.”