Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.) This is the third of (1, 2) 3 posts on this book.
In perhaps one of the most beautiful and simplest (simple does not equal easy) lessons of the book, Chodron tells us,
The lojong teachings encourage us, if we enjoy what we are experiencing, to think of other people and wish for them to feel that. Share the wealth. Be generous with your joy . . . Instead of fearing that they’re going to slip away and holding on to them, share them.
That’s it. Beautiful. Simple. Not easy.
As a post-script to this book review, I don’t think my review will be fully complete for several months. The 8 Minute Meditation book asks you to try each of the 8 meditation techniques daily for a week. I felt I needed to be past the halfway mark of that before passing lessons along to you.
Similarly, to really grasp the value of this book I think I would need to take at least one meditation session to consider each of the 59 lojong slogans. That said, perhaps I will write another review in a few months time.
Next up I will review another brain book, The Hidden Brain, that was not on my 2012 list, but popped up recently and was too enticing for me to wait.
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.) This is the second of (1, 2) 3 posts on this book.
While this book is incredibly deep and complex, one of the central messages is quite simple.
Whatever stress or anxiety you feel in your life, it has been felt before. It is, in fact, a pattern of worry that your brain and human society work together to repeat in people throughout the ages.
And we all have a standard response to the pains we feel. We either fight or flee.
Lojong teaches us to do otherwise. Chodron guides us to move toward the pain. Look at it. Examine it. Embrace the emotion.
Not that you should confirm that the emotion is right (nor should you proclaim to yourself that it is wrong). Rather, through the slogans of lojong, understand the pain. And through the breathing technique of tonglen soften your heart to both yourself and any external source contributing to your experience of pain.
It is the fight against pain that prolongs it and strengthens the emotional response the next time around. So the more we fight, the more we prolong and intensify the very feelings we wish to avoid.
Rather, if we train ourselves to greet the pain with kindness, to move toward it, accept it, embrace it, we can soften the effect of that pain and it’s control over our emotions and actions.
Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron, was the eighth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is an advanced how-to type meditation book.)
If 8 Minute Meditation was perfect for the beginner, this book is the opposite.
Pema Chodron (one of the most brilliant and aware thinkers I’ve encountered) teaches us the practice of lojong, a series of meditations to purify your motives. The practice consists of focusing on one of the 59 slogans (e.g., Drive all blames into one.) during your meditation. Chodron guides the reader through intricate, nuanced, fascinating interpretations of these slogans.
Along with this she describes a specific meditation practice, tonglen, in which you build empathy, understanding, and kinship with others by breathing in the pain you, yourself feel and see around you and breath out the inspiring, relieving, relaxing feelings you experience. This practice begins with understanding and recognizing these feelings in yourself and then opens you to building kinship with all others who share those same feelings.
As I said, if the last book was meditation for the beginner, this is advanced practice. For anyone ready to explore at this level, the insights are, while sometimes challenging, consistently brilliant.
The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, was the fifth book from my 2012 reading list. (It is a living the meditative life type meditation book.) Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda was my sixth (a life of guru type meditation book).
I have to admit that both of these books were written for deeper thinkers than I am. I couldn’t get through, nor appreciate, either one.
I wish I had more to say, but I know the next will be better suited to me at least as I explore Start Where You Are, by one of my favorite authors, Pema Chodron.
I used this confusing term – Read Right – in Monday’s blog as one discipline for developing a sense of calm and peacefulness. Reading right is simply reading materials, books, articles, etc., that help you to feel calm through their style or inspirational content or instruction.
Here are just a few of my favorite books in this category.