Library Journal’s Best Books of 2013 selection
"When something is bothering you-a person is bugging you, a situation is irritating you, or physical pain is bothering you-you must work with your mind, and that is done through meditation. Working with our mind is the only means through which we'll actually begin to feel happy and contented with the world that we live in."
Pema Chödrön is treasured around the world for her unique ability to transmit teachings and practices that bring peace, understanding, and compassion into our lives. With How to Meditate, the American-born Tibetan Buddhist nun presents her first book exploring in-depth what she considers the essentials for a lifelong practice.
More and more people are beginning to recognize a profound inner longing for authenticity, connection, and aliveness. Meditation, Pema explains, gives us a golden key to address this yearning. This step-by-step guide shows readers how to honestly meet and openly relate with the mind, embrace the fullness of our experience, and live in a wholehearted way as we discover:
The basics of meditation, from getting settled and the six points of posture to working with your breath and cultivating an attitude of unconditional friendliness
• The Seven Delights—how moments of difficulty can become doorways to awakening and love
• Shamatha (or calm abiding), the art of stabilizing the mind to remain present with whatever arises
• Thoughts and emotions as "sheer delight"-instead of obstacles-in meditation
"I think ultimately why we practice is so that we can become completely loving people, and this is what the world needs," writes Pema Chödrön. How to Meditate is a long-overdue book from this wise teacher to assist each one of us in this virtuous goal.
Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.
While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him.
Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.
Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns.
Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is also a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the oldest son and lineage holder of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. Her non-profit, The Pema Chödrön Foundation, was set up to assist in this purpose.
She has written several books: The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time To Lose, Practicing Peace in Times of War, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully. All are available from Shambhala Publications and Sounds True.
“Chödrön's voice is gently humorous, always kind, and seemingly infinitely wise.” —The Los Angeles Times
“Meditation doesn't remove pain, or alleviate the negative energy flowing through the world. This is the information which beloved teacher Chodrön offers readers at the beginning of this new book. Meditation will, however, relieve suffering, not by changing our outer environment but by turning our attention inward to make peace with ourselves. The aim is not to transcend our feelings of pain and distress. Instead, it is to open our hearts and minds to accept what we are feeling in any given moment even if that feeling is difficult. The gifts that Chodrön's meditation has to offer are steadfastness, clear awareness, courage, attention to the moment, and learning to not make too big a deal of things. The hallmarks of her teaching are gentle encouragement and loving acceptance. While she provides guidelines for getting started and exercises to keep us going, her greatest teaching is the lesson she shows us on every page: to show compassion for ourselves as we struggle with life's challenges and to base our success on the journey not the goal.” —Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight Magazine
“With her gentle approach and clear treatment of difficult concepts, Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart) is a wonderful leader for those who want to begin or deepen a mindfulness meditation practice (shamatha). . . She presents it all with an appropriate humility, sharing her own struggles as an ongoing student, her insights as a sought-after teacher, and a belief that readers should ultimately become their own teachers. Indeed, by embracing the wisdom and practicing the exercises in this book, readers will be well on their way.” —Vanessa Finney, San Francisco Book Review, May 2013
“Pema is one of our most beloved and helpful teachers-practical, compassionate, and wise. How to Meditate is a great way to take her teachings to heart and develop a meditation practice.” —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart and A Lamp in the Darkness
“This new book by Ani Pema is a great compilation of meditation instruction which she has personally given to many of her students over the years. These instructions have brought so much help to others that it has made her one of the most beloved and revered Buddhist teachers in this modern world. With a brilliant mind and an absolutely cheerful attitude toward life, she practices what she teaches. She is a great support and friend to thousands of readers, and I am very sure that this book will help many in their everyday lives, as she makes this genuine attempt to reach us all.” —Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche