This morning I had a conversation with my co-workers about some challenging circumstances that I’m in the midst of. With my description, I imagined I painted a storm cloud — complete with rumbling thunder and generally full of doom. And then I added that as dreadful as it feels, in the background is a sense that it’s a good, necessary process.
In large part, I have Pema Chödrön to thank for helping to condition my mind to hold pain and terrible shit-storms of life within a view of path and awakening.
In this video, she begins by relaying a most helpful bit of encouragement: Don’t lose heart.
For more than a decade I’ve been turning to Pema Chödrön books in times of strife just to get a bit of encouragement like that; just to be reminded that this very moment — whatever the texture — is the process of awakening in living color.
She always says: “Feel it.” And doing so allows us to know the reality of life on earth, and develop empathy for the people we share our homes, offices and planet with.
At the end of the conversation I was asked to take on the task of watching this Pema Chödrön video and writing a short introduction. I had a feeling it would be a good fit. And indeed, it was nice to touch in with some Pema wisdom this morning.
May you also find this to be helpful.
Note: This excerpt comes from Pema Chödrön’s excellent upcoming online course called “The Heart of the Matter” published by our friends at Shambhala Publications. You can learn more and register for that course, which begins on June 7, 2016, and watch a personal invite from Pema by clicking here.
About the Author
Travis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation. He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he handles the SMC Blog, and other marketing tasks. He also gives tours of the Great Stupa and is empowered as a Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position. TravisNewbill.com
I love Pema”s approach her gentleness in passing on the teachings with an open heart of compassion which truly gives you the courage of not losing heart.
Loosing art long ago and i am still there. I am reading ” ‘When Things Fall Apart’, and all the info just leads to confusion. some how all i can understand is ‘all budists practices lead to a happy death. Happy is not a good description , but it seems to lead to nothingness and a human condition of ‘never having been’. My life is now one frustration after another, and the author seems to believe this is a magical state that leads to bliss. I have no arguments, and sitting in meditation is just more confusion. ( what a wonderful feeling ?) So thousands of hours later I reach nirvana, where my human life is now bliss, even if I get hit in the head? To my frame of reference nothingness is all I expect at the end of life, but in order to get there i must dedicate myself to countless conundrums, riddles, and racing at the dog, to scare it into submission. What I read is metaphor for concepts so sensitive as to be impossible. Wow I have reached the impossible, have embraced it and feel only loneliness, instability and fear. Some how this appears to be some magical state that opens doors if I were just intelligent enough to embrace the concepts. My life’s motivation is fear, failure (in the eyes of my peers) anger, and rest of the bad vibes that pass for existence. Of course I do not understand. and now the stupid factor fits nicely into the Darwinian evolution, of man not being smart enough to understand what he (it) is. I try hard to be of service to my fellow man, but i just don’t fit in to much of anything of value. I had to learn compassion after Viet Nam, army, and VA mental hospitals. Twenty Shock treatments ( as in one flew over the co-co’s nest ) allow me to die 20 times leading to more depression anxiety, and dumbfoundesness. The statement I am expressing is non-understanding what this ride around the sun is all about. I may be some sort of anomaly, and one of few that experienced devastation and lived to write about it. I challenge anyone to experience shock, and come back some sort of spiritual gutu. From where I am, I wish to be no more. I wish never to experience anything again. I have learned to communicate, but find so few to practice it’s return. I know mostly the fear of old age now, and the emotion of Joy is slipping away. I have dropped acid a hundred times, I have held my wife while she died of cancer at age 33. I feel compassion for all sentient beings. I have retrieved dead children from the streets of revouution in Santo Domingo
RD. it haunts me everyday. I probably do not have the right understanding. I understand nothing. I apologize for these words, because I am using this as a sounding board. I wish I was no more ever again, It is you who do not understand.
A wonderful article. I love the theme of not losing heart, which is so encouraging when one feels sad and vulnerable. Pema is such an insightful guide, always able to show us how to use adversity to awaken our openness and appreciation. Am sharing. Thank you Pema.
Thank you Travis,
This was a touching read and viewing today. For many years now I’ve followed Pema’s gentle teachings and deep wisdom and I must say, although I am not fluent in buddhism per sa, I am often met with connecting with an inner sense of knowingness. I love how you put it, in the midst of your feelings of discomfort knowing in the background that it is a good and necessary process. To me, that very statement reflects someone who is saying yes to life in in fullness. I teach about living well when unwell, no one aspires to be ill but from there an oasis of gratitude and compassion can be honed, so long as one doesn’t lose heart.
Susan – livingwellwhenunwell