October 2019 TDM
Pema Chödrön issue
Happy Halloween and welcome to the sixth issue of The Daily Meditator This is your monthly resource for fun, quirky, interesting, and noteworthy happenings in and around the worldwide meditation community—created by Bliss More author and daily meditator Light Watkins. Guest edited by Kristen Vandivier.
Our intention is simple: to broaden the horizon of what a daily meditator looks like while providing you with more inspiration for committing to your daily practice.
In this issue: we wanted to try something a little different. You'll see that we're obsessed with Pema Chödrön, and we decided to dedicate the entire issue to Ani Pema's incredible contribution to the world of meditation.
We hope you enjoy this deviation from our normal format—and if you feel charmed, please share with your community. As always, sending you a big "Namaste," "Sat Nam," or "Jai Guru Deva" wherever you are in the world.
“You must face annihilation over and over again to find what is indestructible in yourself.”
[ WHO IS PEMA CHÖDRÖN ]
The schoolteacher mom who became a Buddhist nun
Image credit: The young Pema Chödrön and Pema now
"To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest." (Pema Chödrön)
Pema was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown on July 14, 1936, in New York City. Her earliest experiences showed no indication that she would lead anything other than an ordinary life of family, school and a traditional career path.
She grew up on a countryside farm in Connecticut with an older brother and sister, and graduated from University of California in Berkeley. After college, she taught elementary school in California and New Mexico and started a family.
In her mid-thirties, her second husband revealed that he was seeing someone else and asked for a divorce. This triggered a deep depression that eventually led her to Buddhism.
She eventually became the first American woman to be fully ordained as a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It was during her spiritual studies that she was given the name Pema Chödrön, which means "lamp of the truth."
Since then, Pema has dedicated her life to preserving and introducing Buddhist ideas and teachings to the West. She has become widely known for her charming and down-to-earth interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences.
Pema currently spends 7 months a year in solitary retreat, while continuing to teach the remainder of the year on topics such as peace, compassion, and acceptance. A central theme of her work is “shenpa,” the Tibetan word for “attachment.”
According to Pema: "As long as there is a nest, we are going to repeatedly fall from it!"
[ DEEP CUTS ]
We can still be crazy
An excerpt by Pema Chödrön from Tricycle Magazine:
We may think meditation will improve us, but it’s really about accepting ourselves as we are right now.
When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I had a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say, “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”
Read the entire article here
According to Pema: “Resistance to unwanted circumstances has the power to keep those circumstances alive and well for a very long time.”
On dealing with chronic illness
"Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know." (Pema Chödrön)
The key to working with what is so deeply unwanted, is to let go of the ideas, (the thoughts), about how we shouldn’t be sick and what will happen to us if we remain sick. Somehow we have to respect the illness, welcome it, enter into it…we surrender and say, okay, what have you to teach me?…about letting go of control, about slowing down…about tasting the full experience of a moment…the light, the sound, the quality of our mood, of our pain, the sight of dust or birds or nothing special…respecting all that.
It’s a kind of death, this illness, the best kind of death if we’ll let it be. It’s the death of old stuck patterns and opinions and habits and it makes way for something new to be born in us. Really, you can trust that. Something new will be born if you’ll let the illness show you where to let go of your grip... And please don’t scold yourself for failing, ever.
The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally, someone told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.
Excerpt from Pema Chodron's “The Freedom To Love" (Sounds True)
According to Pema: “One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.”
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”
[ REALITY CHECK ]
Pema's 3 thoughts on meditation
1. “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.”
We all want to become better people- but that doesn’t mean rejecting who we already are. As Pema explains in her guidebook, “5 Reasons to meditate,” meditation is not a “magic makeover” but rather a slow transformation that allows us to grow in peace with our whole selves—not just the “bad” or the “good” parts!
2. “What’s encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we're closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.”
In addition to helping us grow as humans and spiritual beings, meditation can help us better understand our thought patterns. As Pema points out, meditation allows us to participate alongside our minds as impartial spectators, naming our thoughts for what they are, without necessarily trying to alter or cancel them out.
3. “It’s helpful to remind yourself that meditation is about opening and relaxing with whatever arises, without picking and choosing.”
Meditation can also help us in our struggle against uncertainty about the past or the future by focusing our attention on the exact present and accepting all thoughts as they come. As Pema states in her meditation guidebook, “We learn to just be here… and we have a lot of resistance to just being here!”
(Reprinted from mindfueldaily.com)
According to Pema: "All situations teach you, and often it’s the tough ones that teach you best."
[ READ. WATCH. LISTEN. ]
Get more Pema
Read: Welcoming the Unwelcome
In her first new book of spiritual teachings in over seven years, Pema Chödrön offers a combination of wisdom, heartfelt reflections, and the signature mix of humor and insight that have made her a beloved figure to turn to during times of change. Read now
Watch: On Faith and Reason with Bill Moyers and Pema Chodron
Why does an ancient Eastern spiritual practice appeal to workaholic, frenetic, emailing, fast-talking, fast-typing, and overly stressed Americans? Pema Chodron, whose teachings and writings on meditation have helped make Buddhism accessible to a broad Western audience, talks to Bill Moyers about the many lessons from her own spiritual path. Watch now
Listen: Supersoul Conversations with Pema Chödrön
In her flower garden in Maui, Oprah Winfrey talks with Buddhist nun, author and pioneer of the mindfulness movement Pema Chodron. They examine Pema's new book, "Welcoming the Unwelcome," where she reminds us how to connect to our basic goodness. Listen now
[ WHO TO FOLLOW ]
This month's daily meditator Instagrammer with a purpose
Pema Chödrön Pema spends 7 months at a time in solitary retreat, so she's not exactly posting on Insta every minute. However, her account is still full of beautiful, practical wisdom for everyday people. You can follow her at @anipemachodron.
“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
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