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Resmaa Menakem: Somatic Abolitionism

Resmaa Menakem is an author, artist, and psychotherapist specializing in the effects of trauma on the human body, as well as relationships within Black families and Black society. He’s the author of the beautiful and inspiring book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon and Resmaa Menakem discuss racism from the perspectives of trauma and body-centered psychology. Resmaa unpacks some of the language he’s introduced into our vocabulary around racism—including “white-body supremacy” and “somatic abolitionism”—helping listeners to deepen their understanding of the structural and philosophical underpinnings of racism in the Western world. They also discuss the ways our bodies metabolize our experiences around racism, and the importance of finding healing in community. This interview originally appeared in Sounds True’s Walking Together, a collection of free resources for healing racism.

Deb Dana: Befriending Your Nervous System

How well do you know your nervous system? Deb Dana is a clinician and consultant specializing in complex trauma, and is the coordinator of the Kinsey Institute Traumatic Stress Research Consortium. Her work at the Kinsey Institute is focused on using the lens of Polyvagal Theory to understand and resolve the impact of trauma, and create approaches that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system. With Sounds True, Deb has created a new audio program called Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of Polyvagal Theory. In this podcast, Deb offers an introduction to the human nervous system, how Polyvagal Theory informs our understanding of the nervous system, how to manage the state known as “dysregulation,” and more.

A Soberful Life

Veronica Valli is a former psychotherapist who now works as a sobriety coach. With almost 20 years of experience, she has helped thousands of people live happy, healthy lives and reach their full potential by being alcohol free. She’s been the keynote speaker at annual conferences such as Women for Sobriety and Soberistas, and she is the cohost of the popular Soberful podcast.

In “A Soberful Life,” Sounds True founder, Tami Simon, speaks with Veronica about her new book, Soberful: Uncover a Sustainable, Fulfilling Life Free of Alcohol. Tami and Veronica also discuss: making a cost-benefit analysis of your own relationship with alcohol; alcohol-free living as a new norm for our society; finding a community of sober people, and other lifestyle changes; the myth of willpower; honoring an inner call to growth; why we need skills and support (not strength) to quit drinking for good; the five pillars of sustainable sobriety; the importance of boundaries; human connection and the power of vulnerability; the art of finding balance in ever-changing circumstances; understanding how our past shows up in our present; a trauma-informed approach to recovery; two primary childhood needs: attachment and authenticity; how “doing the right next thing” gets us where we need to go; and more.

What Is Wanting to Find Expression Through You?

Dr. James Hollis is a Jungian analyst, a former director of the Jung Society of Washington, DC, and a professor of Jungian Studies for Saybrook University of San Francisco/Houston. He is the author of The Middle Passage, Living an Examined Life, Through the Dark Wood, and Living Between Worlds, among many others. With Sounds True, he’s released the expansive audio program A Life of Meaning: Exploring Our Deepest Questions and Motivations. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with James about the journey for personal fulfillment—how it starts, what it demands, and how it changes your life. James explains what it really means to take responsibility for your life’s path, as well as how you can rediscover and reclaim your innate authority. Tami and James discuss how childhood experiences shape our present behavior and what it takes to live fearlessly. Finally, they talk about overcoming lethargy and the joy of becoming comfortable with mysteries.

Golden Tara to Who Helps Manifest and Fulfill Purpose

Meditating on Golden Tara shifts your sense of identity away from the smaller self that experiences itself as a separate being. When you identify with Tara in meditation and throughout the day, you realize that you are always in relationship with a fantastic, complex universe. Your energy increases because you no longer feel alone. You have Tara’s help, the help of friends, and countless other beings as well.

On the one hand, you are an infinitesimally tiny part of the grand whole. On the other hand, you have a role to play in the continuing creation of this complex universe. As you deepen and stabilize your inner Tara consciousness, your actions are imbued with love and compassion, arising from your understanding that you are an integral part of whatever you seek to change.

Remembering Tara also helps preserve your energies when you encounter unexpected obstacles; her golden light reveals the treasures hidden in the unwelcome stumbling blocks of life. Difficult challenges hold keys to awakening. Tara helps you approach problems as an inherent part of the journey, supporting you as you move toward them to uncover wisdom they might offer. They often provide a wake-up call to send you in a new direction, offering greater clarity about your life purpose.

This inclusive attitude creates more health in your personal ecosystem as well as the universal ecosystem. Ask Golden Tara to transform your challenging emotions into love and to increase your energy for discovering meaning and purpose in your life.

Tara’s Appearance

Golden Tara appears as the life-giving female buddha in a body of radiant golden light. She embodies the light of life itself. The vase in Golden Tara’s hand contains the power to increase our life energy, power, and material and spiritual resources. These resources support us in times of ease and times of difficulty, enabling us to discover and fulfill the purposes of our life on a moment-to-moment basis and over the arc of our lives.

For centuries, artists have created statues and thangka paintings of Tara, always adorned with jewelry. These sacred paintings, usually done on fabric and surrounded by brocade, portray the qualities of their subjects and convey teachings as well. Thus we take special note of Tara’s adornments. A crown rests atop her head. Necklaces of varying lengths cascade from her neck to her waist. Bracelets encircle her wrists. All have been crafted from gold with deep red and blue jewels woven into the designs.

Gold has been the preferred precious metal of jewelry makers for thousands of years. Gold is malleable; gold doesn’t tarnish. Golden light is associated with increasing life-force, healing, and holiness. Holy people of many faiths are often painted in an aura of golden radiance.

Many years ago, I heard a teaching that Tara’s jewels represent her experiences over lifetimes on her way to enlightenment and buddhahood. Profound understanding of the Buddhist teachings and her experiences as a woman led Wisdom Moon to vow to attain enlightenment as a woman and to persevere toward her goal. Tara’s life events were surely difficult and awe-inspiring, ordinary and phenomenal. All of them were precious contributions to her journey, which has benefited countless beings over hundreds of years.

The Mantra

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Ayur Punye Pushtam Kuru Soha!

“Ohm Tahray Tootahray Tooray Sarwah Ahyoor Poonyay Pushtahm Kooroo Soha!”

When you recite the mantra of Golden Tara, you are urging (kuru) Tara to increase (pushtam) your life energies (ayur) and merit (punye), your contributions to adding positive energy to beings around the world, near and far. Mantra recitations need not be limited to formal practice. Use them throughout the day to slow down and focus on whatever task is at hand.

The Practice

First, visualize the entire mandala of Green Tara emerging into the space in front of you. You are surrounded by your friends, loved ones, and supporters, and she is surrounded by your teachers and all the twenty-one emanations. After the opening prayers, imagine Golden Tara coming into the foreground of the mandala. Recall her praise while visualizing golden rays of light streaming from her heart as well as the golden vase in her right hand, which rests on her right knee, palm open in the gesture of supreme giving.

As you recite her mantra, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Ayur Punye Pushtam Kuru Soha, imagine that you are absorbing this light and that other beings and other places are receiving the light of Tara as well.

Kuru, which appears in seven of the Tara mantras, carries a particularly bold tone. You’re not meekly asking Tara to help—you’re putting your whole heart and body into this request. “Tara, please do this for me. Remove blockages so more energy flows into my life and work! I’m counting on you!” The same tasks that feel overwhelming in one moment seem entirely possible in the next.

Tara can help you discern the wisdom inherent in the obstacles you encounter in your life and practice. Meditate on the continuity in your life—the joyful moments, the extremely painful moments, and everything in between. Your experiences are not meaningless fragments. Imagine a mosaic forming as you piece the fragments together into a beautiful coherent pattern. Invoke Tara’s wisdom to give you greater clarity about your life purpose and the means to fulfill it.

Recite the mantra at least 21 times or 108 times whenever possible. Then rest in the vibrational field created by your chanting. Allow frustration and doubt to dissolve, releasing energy for healing. You become richer in inner resources, which leads to enriched outer resources as well, both material and spiritual. Affirm your connection to all life forms in the universe. Know that the benefits of your heartfelt wishes and efforts will flow from you into the world.

As you bring the session to a close, visualize Golden Tara receding into her place among the twenty-one emanations. See the whole mandala dissolve into radiant light, which flows into you and merges with your inner light. Dedicate the merit or positive potential generated by the practice to the healing of all beings—with no exceptions.

This is an adapted excerpt from Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha by Dr. Rachael Wooten.

 

rachael wooten

Rachael Wooten, PhD, is a Zürich—trained Jungian analyst and psychologist who has been in private practice as a therapist for more than 40 years. An enthusiastic interfaith activist, she has studied and practiced in Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and indigenous traditions throughout her adult life.

Rachael has been mentored by spiritual teachers such as her Tibetan root guru Lodrö Tulku Rinpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She has taught Tara practices under the authorization of Lodrö Rinpoche for more than 20 years. Rachael has offered Tara workshops through the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and C. G. Jung Society of the Triangle. She currently teaches a monthly Tara meditation group at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more, visit rachaelwootenauthor.com.

 

 

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Finding Meaning in Our Grief

David Kessler is widely considered the world’s foremost expert on grief and loss. He is the author of six books, including the new bestseller Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, and the founder of grief.com, which has more than five million visits annually from people in almost 170 countries. David has taught physicians, nurses, counselors, police, and first responders about the end of life, trauma, and grief. He facilitates talks, workshops, and retreats for those experiencing grief, and his experience with thousands of people on the edge of life and death has taught him secrets to living a happy and fulfilled life, even after tragedy.

In this podcast, Sounds True founder Tami Simon speaks with David Kessler about his new book, including how our relationships transcend death and how we can all continue to love and cherish those we’ve lost. They also discuss David’s friendship and work with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross; misconceptions about the five stages of grief; finding meaning as the sixth stage of grief; why all grief does not have trauma, but all trauma has grief; making the decision to participate in life after loss; the importance of telling our stories, and why our grief must be witnessed in order to be healed; creating a grief-literate society; why “what we avoid pursues us, what we face transforms us”; how our lost loved ones can move forward with us in life; being with and there for someone in grief; our “continuing bonds” with those we’ve lost, and how death can never end our relationships; and more.

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