having tea with my dragon


I’m just checking in here to share an interesting sychronicity and wonderful resource with you.  I’ve discovered Tara Brach’s online lectures  by following a link on nurturing ‘loving relationships’ that appeared and appealed to me on my facebook feed, which led to another link and so on. On Tara’s site, the second lecture from the top (at the time of this posting) is dated 2015-02-25 , and is entitled,  “From Dragons to Schmoos – Meeting Life with Compassionate Presence”  .

Oh my.

In my last blog entry, as you remember, I had intuitively come to a place of surrender with this dragon in me, not surrender as in ‘giving up’, but surrender as in realizing I was no longer able to control it/keep it well-behaved with sheer willpower. I had realized that I was quite powerless to it in that particular way, but had found hope in the realization that there was some small part of me that was not swept up completely by it, or consumed by it. This part that was able to witness it felt like my true self; the dragon, an alien, and  I was just relinquishing to a tenderness for that dragon-in-me.

Of course, I realize that all of these characters are parts of me, and lovably so, but I also can choose with whom I identify most deeply  – the raging, fearful, shaming and blaming one, or the one who can hold them all in love, no matter how small she might feel in any particular moment. Turns out that this instinct is a wise one. Perhaps ‘instinct’ is inaccurate as the reptile brain is the one who takes over instinctively and the wise mind (seated in frontal lobe) is a more intentional, practiced discipline, but something in me has taken in this wisdom nonetheless, and trusted intuitively in its truth. I believe this belief in Love, in the goodness within, is also instinctive somehow, inborn at least.

So, Tara’s invitation to me is to take my loving observation/embrace one step farther, from merely bearing witness into a conversation over tea with this raging one. She suspects that there is more than one dragon in there, too (that’s why it felt so huge!)  There is this one who feels so angry, of course, but also and much more potently, there dwells in me the dragon who judges and shames and seeks to control that first dragon. This is the one who truly needs my compassionate presence for she is truly afraid that she is unworthy, insufficient, unlovable and will be abandoned.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this thing called self-aversion I’m pretty adept at. I can beat myself up, I can judge myself as woefully inadequate, I can feel guilty for both my actions AND my feelings. I can take on the burdens of others’ judgments of me (perceived and/or real), then go so far as to blame them for my not-being-good-enough, get myself “hitched to proving that I am right’, as Tara explains, so that I can deflect some of that enormous self-loathing pain away from my own hurting heart.

That’s the thing about self-judgement, it eventually gets projected onto others. The pain of it is too much to bear by one little soul… and so it goes and so it goes, spreading its pain around. The thing is that, with this most recent bout, I knew it felt like pain, searing pain, which alternated between lashing-out and self-numbing – in a typical self-abuse cycle ( If you’ve experienced it, you know what I mean.) But I just couldn’t seem to unseat it.

Tara goes on to explain that whatever we can’t embrace (behold with tenderness) controls us . Soon thereafter our identity gets ‘hitched’ onto the shame chain reaction instead of returning to its true home in Compassion. It seems our reptilian brains are rigged for defensiveness when they feel attacked (even by ourselves) and react way faster than our frontal lobes can respond, and we can get dragged along for that death-dealing ride. It happens to every single one of us….. but moreso if you’ve experienced trauma.


And here is the clue for me. As I sit down with my dragon (rather than either one of us seeking to unseat the other) for tea, this is the clue with which I might begin the conversation, investigating it for what vulnerability, what fear, might be hiding beneath it. At first guess, I’d suspect it is the fear of abandonment, as that fault-line runs deep in me. Beneath it, I expect I just might find the precious root of my longing for love and belonging. Prayer, according to Tara, is the bridge between longing and belonging through which we begin to experience Love itself.

Tara claims that many of us on a healing or awakening path mistakenly believe that when we ‘arrive’ we will no longer carry the dragon within, that the presence of ‘negative’ emotions – fear, pain, unworthiness, anger, blame – will be gone. The truth is that they will always be our friends. We need ‘simply’ learn to sit down with them, so as not to become possessed by them, and listen with love for the deeper longing they are protecting.

Come sit with me, darling. Let’s have tea.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Mar 15, 2015 @ 16:38:22

    Tara Brach’s book “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha” is one of the most healing books I have ever read! She introduced me many years ago to the concept of “Having Tea with Mara” (“I see you Mara!”) which helped to welcome Fear, and facilitate acceptance and self compassion.



    • emmaatlast
      Mar 15, 2015 @ 20:16:47

      Pat, I remember listening to that book on a road trip a few years ago, liking what I heard but not really taking it in, I suppose. The book was given to me by a friend, and I suspect I was resistant for some reason.
      I think “having tea with Mara’ is a lot like welcoming prayer, a practice I have found very healing/helpful when I commit myself to practicing it, which I haven’t been so good at lately.
      Thanks for continuing to read, my friend.



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