Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

Pema Chodron

Language: English

Pages: 130

ISBN: B0041VYNVG

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this book Pema Chödrön shows us how to break free of destructive patterns in our lives and experience a new sense of freedom and happiness. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of shenpa, she helps us to see how certain habits of mind tend to “hook” us and get us stuck in states of anger, blame, self-hatred, and addiction. The good news is that once we start to see these patterns, we can begin to change our lives for the better.

The key is learning a new way of facing the inevitable difficulties and insecurities of our daily lives: we must learn how to stay present and open our hearts. “This path entails uncovering three basic human qualities,” explains Pema. “These qualities have always been with us but perhaps have gotten buried and almost forgotten. They are natural intelligence, natural warmth, and natural openness. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has these qualities and can call on them to help themselves and others."

This book gives us the insights and practices we can immediately put to use in our lives to awaken these essential qualities. In her friendly and encouraging style, Pema Chödrön helps us to take a bold leap toward a new way of living—one that will bring about positive transformation for ourselves and for our troubled world.

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usual tendency is to use that as a reason to get discouraged, a reason to feel really bad about ourselves. Instead, we could realize how remarkable it is that we actually have the capacity to see ourselves honestly, and that doing this takes courage. It is moving in the direction of seeing our life as a teacher rather than as a burden. This involves, fundamentally, learning to stay present, but learning to stay with a sense of humor, learning to stay with loving-kindness toward ourselves and with

sameness. Somehow when my heart broke, the qualities of natural warmth, qualities like kindness and empathy and appreciation, just spontaneously emerged. People say it was like that in New York City for a few weeks after September 11. When the world as they’d known it fell apart, a whole city full of people reached out to one another, took care of one another, and had no trouble looking into one another’s eyes. It is fairly common for crisis and pain to connect people with their capacity to

the opposite. The practice is to train in not automatically fleeing from uncomfortable tenderness when it arises. With time we can embrace it just as we would the comfortable tenderness of loving-kindness and genuine appreciation. A person does something that brings up unwanted feelings, and what happens? Do we open or close? Usually we involuntarily shut down, yet without a storyline to escalate our discomfort we still have easy access to our genuine heart. Right at this point we can recognize

others, but she also became engaged in working with people in crisis. Her seeming failure is making her a far more courageous and compassionate woman. Right before the Buddha attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree, he was tempted in every conceivable way. He was assaulted by objects of lust, objects of craving, objects of aggression, of fear, of all the variety of things that usually hook us and cause us to lose our balance. Part of his extraordinary accomplishment was that he stayed

anyone who’s ever tried meditation learns really quickly that we are almost never fully present. I remember when I was first given meditation instruction. It sounds so simple: Just sit down, get comfortable, and bring light awareness to your breath. When your mind wanders, gently come back and stay present with your breath. I thought, “This will be easy.” Then someone hit a gong to begin and I tried it. What I found was that I wasn’t present with a single breath until they hit the gong again to

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