Podcast Rec No. 5: “Tara Brach Podcast”

Tara Brach After the stress of the Thanksgiving holidays and the impending anxiety of Christmas, I made the very important decision to start meditating. I started very small, sitting in silence every day for five minutes only.

The problem is that there are little options of iPhone meditation apps for people who can’t afford a monetary subscription service. The best luck I had was downloading the Headspace App that has a free program called “Take10,” which takes the beginner on 10-day meditation introductory course. It was great. Then I finished the free option and the more in-depth stuff requires an average $10/month subscription. Listen, Headspace, it’s been wonderful and I wish I could subscribe, but my husband’s in law school. It’s either you or Hulu+, and you don’t have access to Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episodes.

While listening to an interview with Brainpickings creator Maria Popova, she mentioned she listened to the Tara Brach podcast, which offers guided meditations and general topics about mindfulness. I’ve since downloaded a few episodes, and I’m enjoying them quite a bit. The podcast has been in existence since 2010, so there is plenty of material to scour. Some recordings are taken from retreats and run anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, and meditation episodes can last anywhere between six to 35 minutes. These episodes are free, but if the listener wishes to support the show financially, donations help with costs of audio feeds and website-related necessities.

The only criticism I have with the podcast is that it is heavy on the metaphors. I know what she means by “softening the eyes” and letting “the heart smile.” But it takes me out of it. I’m immediately responding, “My heart can’t smile. It doesn’t have teeth. Or lips. Why would that look like on an anatomically correct heart? Wait, right! Focus on breath! In, out, in, out...” I’m finding more guided meditation options out there and plan on switching it up every now and then, but this podcast is definitely in the rotation.

Recommended episode: “Relating Wisely with Imperfection.” I’m an admitted perfectionist, so this one hit pretty close to home. Brach relates some great stories from history, mythology, and her own life regarding the topic of imperfection and how we can be mindful of what is going on beneath the fear of it. As a frequent procrastinator and stress box of creative self-doubt, this episode is pretty high on my list of necessary listening.

If you’re looking for a nice start to guided meditation, start with “Ten-Minute Basic Meditation Practice.” As the Brits say, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Ten minutes and you’re done. Boom. Meditated win.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Doing Dallas: Meditation Medication

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Not gonna lie, this past week has been stressful. As a college student, I’m entering into that wonderful time of the semester in which professors feel the need to assign a million papers, and then conspire together to make them all due on the same day. Higher education, man. To give you an idea of how it’s going, I’ve put together a brief storyboard:

Doing Dallas

When I found out that the Crow Collection of Asian Art offers hour-long meditation sessions every Sunday in its galleries, I knew I’d stumbled across this week’s Doing Dallas.* A chance to find inner peace and feng shui? Why not?! More important, a chance to procrastinate all my work in the name of stress relief? Heck yes! Unable to pass-up such an opportunity, I headed on down to the Crow for an afternoon of Zen and deep-breathing. Here’s what happened.

*The Crow also offers weekly Tai Chi classes, which I first read as "Chai Tea" classes and misunderstood to be weekly tea tastings. I was crestfallen to learn this is not the case, as I do love a good cup of chocolate chai.

Getting There

Never having meditated before, I had no idea what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I read Siddhartha in high-school and watched the Friends episode on Unagi, so I wasn’t going into this experience completely blind. Even though I knew this would only be a mental workout, for some reason I felt compelled to also dress in workout attire (perhaps, subconsciously, I was hoping that elements of the Tai Chi/Chai Tea would be incorporated). If you were wondering, this wardrobe choice led me to stick out like a sore thumb as I wandered through the museum’s sacred ancient artifacts.

As I set off toward downtown, I suddenly became aware of my gnawing hunger. Checking the clock, I knew I’d be cutting it close if I stopped to grab some grub. A mental war then ensued – boy, would this meditation be good for me – as I tried to decide what would be worse: arriving late to a mediation or having my stomach rumblings distract from others’ practice. I opted for food and grabbed a coffee, too; suddenly scared that keeping my eyes closed for longer than 10 seconds would have me out like a baby.

Please note the small, circular butt pillow stacked  atop the larger butt pillow. Mediation doesn’t really play around when it comes to the comfortableness of your butt.

Breathe in the Light

Thankfully, my insatiable hunger did not make me late, and upon arriving I sat down on one of the many floor pillows, ready to dive into my inner consciousness. Moments later, the teacher arrived and we started right into the practice.

“We’ll start with a simple opening mediation. Breathe in, and as you do so, visualize yourself inhaling light.”

Hmm…okay. As I tried to imagine this visualization, all I could think of was the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Dumbledore uses a deluminator to collect light from streetlamps. Distracted, I couldn’t help but think of my nose as doing the same thing, and so I started chuckling to myself. Clearly I was off to a good start.

“Now, I want you to imagine that with every out-breath, you’re exhaling thick black smoke.”

Trying to get my brain back on track, I sincerely tried to imagine this image, too. But, as I did so, I kept thinking about blowing smoke rings. This got me thinking about smoke in general, and then fire, then chestnuts roasting over an open fire, and before I knew it I was crafting my Christmas wish-list. No! Focus, Chelsea, focus.

“…and so you now have your object, so let’s think about that for the next 10 minutes.”

Crap! Somewhere between dreaming of new boots and sweaters, I’d missed the explanation of this what this “object” I was supposed to be thinking about was. Oy vey. Well, I guess the next 10 minutes would be devoted to experimenting with the feasibility of sleeping while sitting upright.

Mental Olympics

Possible dresses for my next sorority formal y/n?

By the start of the next round of meditations, my mind was gone. Hummingbirds, The Great Gatsby, the thumbs-up emoji, popsicles, you name it, I thought about it. For a while, I was consumed with worry that we weren’t saying “ommmm” like in Siddhartha, but after a few minutes my mind moved on to the next topic, even as the teacher instructed us to “focus.”

Thirty-five minutes into the hour-long meditation, the coffee I’d drank on the way over hit my bladder, and I could think of nothing else. Knowing that my practice was doomed, I decided to silently stand and head toward the restroom. On my way, I wandered through the Crow’s special Japanese fashion exhibit, and sidetracked (obviously) I stopped to take pictures.


What I Learned

Sunday, I learned that it is possible to fall asleep sitting upright. And that it isn’t a good idea to consume a lot of liquids before meditating. And that I might have ADD, and that I am not cut out for meditation. All in all, I’d say a lot of great lessons were learned!

And, while I may be too mentally weak for meditation, the experience was relaxing and enjoyable. So now, I’m much less like:



And a lot more like:


Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

(Photos from