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Radical Acceptance - Embracing Your Life With the Heart od a Buddha - Tara Brach

Buch-Review - Hannes Kleist - 28.11.2019

Radical Acceptance - Embracing Your Life With the Heart od a Buddha

This book is a fun combination of psychology, stories from the authors real-life psychology practise and Buddhism. It tackles the sources of suffering and how to go about them.


Every week I read a book about business, psychology or mindfulness and share my highlights and comments in an article.

This week I read a recommendation by Marcin Trofimiuk (who runs a business unit at Stanwood) after discussing “vulnerability” in one of our board meetings.

This book is a fun combination of psychology, stories from the authors real-life psychology practise and Buddhism. It tackles the sources of suffering and how to go about them.

This book struck home with me for a number of reasons.

  1. I am getting deeper into meditation and Buddhism and find it strangely fitting our culture at stanwood and my view of the world.
  2. I am personally struggling with fear of embarrassment, addictions, procrastination and anxiety.

ONE: The Trance of Unworthiness

Long hours of grueling work — an addiction that our culture often applauds.

I finally broke that particular addiction by putting and adhering to blocks in my calendar.

This woman, a successful writer and teacher, told me how easily she gets caught up in feeling superior to others.

I am definitely guilty of that.

While I loved the yoga and meditation practices, I was embarrassed by my need to impress others with the strength of my practice.

That’s why I do not start loads of fun activities. I feel the need to be good at the first lesson.

Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being “without anxiety about imperfection.”

That is beautiful. And true.

TWO: Awakening from the Trance–The Path of Radical Acceptance

It means feeling sorrow and pain without resisting.

It took me a while to understand that “reducing unnecessary suffering” as a life goal does not mean: “Avoid all pain”.

It means “feel the pain” but “do not suffer” from it.

I have a tendency to flee from uncomfortable situations. I now try to “lean in”, really feel them and build tactics on how not to flee but rather engage meaningfully with the situation.

I began to experiment with a Buddhist mindfulness meditation called vipassana, which means “to see clearly” in Pali, the language of the Buddha. It is a practice based on teachings that explicitly acknowledged the suffering I was feeling and offered a way to awaken from it.

That’s what I practise. First with the headspace app and now with Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” app

The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.

Beautifully put.

THREE: The Sacred Pause–Resting Under the Bodhi Tree

Learning to pause is the first step in the practice of Radical Acceptance.

My coach Alexander Petrowski once said: “Freedom is the time between trigger and reaction.”

But by disrupting our habitual behaviors, we open to the possibility of new and creative ways of responding to our wants and fears.

Easier said than done.

Often the moment when we most need to pause is exactly when it feels most intolerable to do so.


FOUR: Unconditional Friendliness–The Spirit of Radical Acceptance

Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: “Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.” For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience. As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud.

I will try that the next time, I feel overwhelmed in a situation. You have been warned.

SIX: Radical Acceptance of Desire–Awakening to the Source of Longing

When we can’t meet our emotional needs directly, the wanting self develops strategies for satisfying them with substitutes. Or we might feel compelled to be helpful and of service, someone needed by others.

I fall victim to that a lot.

We often try to satisfy our emotional needs with the more immediate pleasures of food, alcohol and drugs.

Guilty as charged. BTW: I stopped drinking during the week. Feels great.

“Getting one more thing out of the way” seems the most reliable way to get what I want — to feel better.

Oh. Todo-list addiction.

Accomplishing things does temporarily stave off my feelings of inadequacy.

Same here.

SEVEN: Opening Our Heart in the Face of Fear

The trance of fear is sustained by our strategies to avoid feeling fear. We might learn to lie if it will shield us from someone’s anger.

Oh. I do that a lot as well.

EIGHT: Awakening Compassion for Ourselves–Becoming the Holder and the Held

We’ve all felt the power of someone’s care to melt our armor. When we feel upset, often not until someone cares enough to listen or give us a hug are we able to melt down and cry.


NINE: Widening the Circles of Compassion–The Bodhisattva’s Path

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

Good point.

I am trying Metta meditation now. My favourite part is, where I bath in the love for my kids and then need to project that love to a person I hate.

ELEVEN: Awakening Together–Practicing Radical Acceptance in Relationship

We react to one another out of habit, instantaneously, lost in our patterns of defending, pretending, judging and distancing. When we practice pausing and deepening our attention, instead of being driven by unconscious wants and fears, we open up our options.

One of my favourite findings in mediation.

We learn to listen deeply and speak with mindful presence, to speak what is helpful and true.

Good life advice.

TWELVE: Realizing Our True Nature

As we spiritually mature, our yearning to see truth and live with an open heart becomes more compelling than our reflex to avoid pain and chase after pleasure.

This perfectly describes the journey of my last year.

Buy on amazon


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Hannes Kleist
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