Pema Chödrön

With her powerful teachings, bestselling books, and retreats attended by thousands, Pema Chödrön is today’s most popular American-born teacher of Buddhism. In The Wisdom of No Escape, The Places that Scare You, and other important books, she has helped us discover how difficulty and uncertainty can be opportunities for awakening. She serves as resident teacher at Gampo Abbey Monastery in Nova Scotia and is a student of Dzigar Kongtrul, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and the late Chögyam Trungpa.

Looking into Laziness

Rather than feeling discouraged by laziness, we could get to know laziness profoundly. This very moment of laziness becomes our personal teacher. Traditionally, laziness is taught as one of the obstacles to awakening. There are different kinds of laziness. First, there’s the laziness of comfort orientation, we just try to stay comfortable and cozy. Then there’s the laziness of [...]

Lojong: How to Awaken Your Heart

Atisha, lojong teacher.

Pema Chödrön's commentary on Atisha's famed mind-training slogans that utilize our difficulties and problems to awaken the heart. When I first read the lojong ("mind training") teachings in The Great Path of Awakening by the nineteenth-century Tibetan teacher Jamgön Kongtrül the Great, I was struck by their unusual message that we can use our difficulties and problems to [...]

Six Kinds of Loneliness

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To be without a reference point is the ultimate loneliness. It is also called enlightenment. In the middle way, there is no reference point. The mind with no reference point does not resolve itself, does not fixate or grasp. How could we possibly have no reference point? To have no reference point would be to change a deep-seated habitual response to the world: wanting to make [...]

How We Get Hooked and How We Get Unhooked

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Shenpa is the urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down. We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief. To get unhooked we begin by recognizing that moment of unease and learn to relax in that moment. You're trying to make a point with a coworker or your partner. At one moment her face is open and she's listening, and at the next, [...]

Meditation: Touching In with the Present Moment

What's going on in your mind and body is worth exploring, especially when sitting down to meditate. Pema Chödrön offers some helpful questions to ask yourself. At the beginning of a meditation session, it can be helpful to check in with your mind before you begin. See where you’re at right now. To find yourself in the present moment, it can help if you run through a series of [...]

Transforming the Heart of Suffering

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In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves. In particular, to care about other people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean—you name it—to have compassion and to care for these people, means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. In fact, [...]

Smile at Fear: Pema Chodron on Bravery, Open Heart & Basic Goodness

Despite what we might think much of the time and what the news programs imply, we all wish to be sane and open-hearted people. We could take I our wish to be more sane and kind and put it in a very large context. We could expand it into a desire to help all other people, to help the whole world. But we need a place to start. We can’t simply begin with the whole world. We need [...]

Choosing Peace

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There is a key moment, says Pema Chödrön, when we make the choice between peace and conflict. Here she describes a practice we can do at that very moment to bring peace for ourselves, for others, and for the world. If we want to make peace, with ourselves and with the world at large, we have to look closely at the source of all of our wars. So often, it seems, we want to [...]

Buddhist Meditation is Relaxing with the Truth

Zafu.

It is only when we begin to relax with ourselves as we are that meditation becomes a transformative process. The pith instruction is, Stay. . . stay. . . just stay. As a species, we should never underestimate our low tolerance for discomfort. To be encouraged to stay with our vulnerability is news that we definitely can use. Sitting meditation is our support for learning [...]

Feed the Right Wolf

Three white wolves.

Pema Chödrön describes the process of looking compassionately and honestly at our own minds. In the end, she says, freeing ourselves from anger and hostility comes down to choosing which wolf we want to feed.   As human beings we have the potential to disentangle ourselves from old habits, and the potential to love and care about each other. We have the capacity to [...]