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I have always loved Pema Chodron. Her books and courses shine with wisdom and kindness and help us navigate the difficult times of life all of us encounter.
Pema Chodron’s books and courses cover the full span of human life and the difficulties we encounter along the way. Her easy and kind-hearted instruction helps us deal with uncertainty and change, cope with life crises, escape from feeling stuck, allow love into our lives – almost no subject remains untouched.
In this article, we review some of Pema’s most cherished books and courses. Maybe one or two of these will kindle your interest and encourage you to embark on a journey of learning of your own!
Pema Chodron Books
Over a lifetime spanning over 80 years, Pema has been a very prolific writer and teacher.
Just in case you are interested, we have already narrated Pema’s extraordinary life history as the first Western Buddhist nun and 10 of her most inspirational quotes in another article.
From a large selection of books, we have chosen just three that are particularly helpful. Their words of wisdom about life have inspired many on their path of learning and working through life’s difficulties.
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (1994)
Start Where You Are is an invaluable handbook for exploring our lives – wherever we happen to be. With insight and humor, Pema guides us to face our current problems with fearlessness and a compassionate heart.
Pema Chodron wraps the teachings in this book around fifty-nine traditional Tibetan Buddhist slogans. These form the basis to create a better life. Readers are encouraged to work with and meditate on these and through this, learn to resolve inner issues and move to a greater place of joy, well-being, and confidence.
Read the following inspiring quote from this book: “When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”
Living Beautifully With Uncertainty And Change (2013)
Change affects all of us at different times during our lives, and whether we want the change or not. Many times, change can be a good thing. However, it can also be scary, difficult and confusing. Initially, we may intuitively resist it as something bad. But we are not alone in this. “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”
The Pema Chodron book Living With Uncertainty and Change encourages us to be more present and without any preconceptions or worries about what might happen or not. Consequently, we can look at the world in a more relaxed and open way and become more comfortable with uncertainty.
Pema Chodron bases her teachings on a traditional Buddhist practice called the Three Vows or Three Commitments. If applied consistently, they help us work through and accept change, even in the face of confusion and chaos. Broadly, these focus on:
- how we can free ourselves by letting go more of the things we want most
- being of genuine and compassionate service to others
- accepting the impermanence of things.
One of Pema Chodron’s great quotes from that book is: “When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment”.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times (1996)
When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice For Difficult Times is possibly Pema’s most popular and touching book and intensely influenced strongly by her own experiences.
Who has not faced a crisis in life? At times, everything seems to fall apart and all we feel is pain, anxiety and confusion. In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron gently instructs us to move towards the pain and face it, rather than trying to escape from it.
By drawing on her wealth of knowledge and wisdom from the Buddhist philosophy, she offers life-changing tools to help us transform suffering and negative patterns into positive insight and joy of life.
Here is a lovely quote from that book: “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. “
Online Classes and Courses Created by Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron has created and contributed to many online timeless resources and courses. These take interested students from inspirational quotes and books to a more practical level of learning and implementation.
Learning How To Meditate
How to Meditate embraces Pema Chodron’s approach to meditation over 12 individual sessions. In these, she bases her teachings on what she has learnt from listening to people over many years and taking from this what she understands to be the key points of meditation.
As a result, this meditation series reflects her down to earth and eminently accessible approach, coupled with her deep Buddhist traditional knowledge.
The course covers:
- The basics of mindfulness practice, including right posture, breathing and relaxation
- How to apply gentleness, patience, and humour to a meditation practice
- How to help the mind stay present in the face of distractions
- Accepting thoughts and emotions as they arise.
Getting Unstuck And Moving Forward
Several Pema Chodron’s online classes address how to move past personal difficulties and pain into a more positive space. Clearly, this is an area where Pema draws on much of her own life experience. Of particular interest here are:
- The Freedom To Choose Something Different. This course includes a six-part video series presented by Pema herself, together with two videos covering Question and Answer Sessions and full course materials. The amazing truth is that we can change our lives at any time we want – and Pema maps out a path for us that we can follow.
- When Pain Is The Doorway is a course about finding freedom in the most difficult of circumstances. In it, Pema Chödrön teaches us that there are hidden doorways that become visible to us only when we are sure there is no way out. Further, she encourages to develop and sense of curiosity to help us find the freedom to make positive choices that lie just beneath the surface of pain.
- Making Friends With Your Mind is a course about freeing your mind from stuck thinking and self-inflicted suffering to a place of greater personal and mental freedom.
Allowing Love Into Our Lives
Awakening Love is a course about our capacity to love – the true purpose of our lives. This course helps us shed our emotional armour, and truly give and receive love more fully. The course teaches the Buddhist concepts of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, even to our most obstinate of obstacles. “Pema Chodron continues to reshape my thinking in these wondrous teachings filled with humour and true-life insight “.
There are many other online courses available that you might be interested in. Check out the full range of topics available online.
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