Holding it Together When Things Fall Apart | Pema Chodron
Our guest this week has seemingly been trying to prepare us for this pandemic for years through a series of very popular books with titles such as when things fall apart welcoming the unwelcome and the wisdom of no escape. But as you're about to hear Pem Trojan is anything but gloom even though the title sound a little gloomy like all the great meditation teachers. I've had the good fortune to encounter. She has a real lightness in a sense of humor about her. As you will hear that said notwithstanding her chipper demeanor she has worked really hard to point out to her readers and her many students that ground listeners and uncertainty are fundamental facts of life which are as we all know becoming increasingly salient in our current crisis. Pamacho her name as I said she was born deirdre Bloomfield in Connecticut. She lived a rather conventional life going to UC Berkeley becoming a schoolteacher. Having a pair of kids but after a rough divorce she found herself adrift. And during that time she discovered Tibetan Buddhism and ultimately shaved her head and became a nun. She's now in her mid eighties. She lives in rural Nova Scotia. Where she's the director of Gamco Abby and we connected with her via old school landline. So you'll hear that. In the audio we talked to her about a bunch of things including how to actually as she recommends and one of the aforementioned book titles how to actually welcome the unwelcome. We also discussed how to befriend your demons how to sympathize without being stupid how to lighten up in the face of fear and how to embrace chaos as and this is a quote here extremely good news so here we go hello This is Dan Harris Cohen. Hello this is Hammer Children. Nice to connected. You Nice to talk to you again. Are you in New York? I am in New York right in the heart. Oh Yeah Wow. That's a hard place to be right now. That is a statement of fact. It is a hard place to no question. How how are you? Situate US. Where where are you exactly? And and how are you? I'm I'm good. I'm very well as a healthy and good. I'm in Nova Scotia and Ahmed COMPO ABBEY. Which is very remote in a kind of a very natural setting on the ocean. Far North in Nova Scotia Cape Breton Island. And we've had to close to anyone coming in but the community if like we're as they say sheltering in place where all sheltering in place together and just doing what we were doing before you know so. But we're very aware of course heightened awareness of what's happening With virus and the amount of suffering and death so that's very strong but in terms of being healthy we are and in terms of you know being able to our life is not claustrophobic. I guess you could say that. So we feel fortunate that way. I'm glad to hear that you're relatively unaffected but I I also hear that you're saying that you can't help but be aware of the global situation. Oh yeah yeah very much so very much so I was. I was looking at some of your book. Titles just read them back to you but when things well welcome welcoming the unwelcome comfortable with certainty the wisdom of no escape. I was thinking. It's like you've been trying to prepare us for this for decades. That's true I it's true actually I Win My primary teacher Jokin trump. Oh I live. He taught a lot about difficult times. We'll be coming and you should be preparing yourself to be strong and resilient and compassionate so that when things are difficult. It's like rather than catch the flu. You'll be there to help people you know. So that made a big impression on me to train working with difficulty when it wasn't so intense you know and everybody had plenty of difficulty to work with but I was always thinking of of things getting worse. Globally yes so the book titles somewhat reflect that and encouragement to work work with your heart and mind so that you could be Sort of steady and Able to be of benefit in these times I suspect people listening to this earth thinking to themselves in all caps. How how do I welcome the unwelcome on? How do I come comfortable with uncertainty? How do you to your teacher? Has a quote. Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news. How do I do all that? Sounds great but what I do I do that. Yeah well I. It's like well now. I make a pitch for the books which filled with instruction you know so. The basic thing is to have a meditation practice in which you become increasingly self aware. You're able to self reflect and you're conscious of your own habitual patterns and your own tendencies toward fear or aggression or whatever it might be you know self aggression aggression towards others and then the teachings are about when you can acknowledge. What's happening with you? Then the teachings are don't make yourself bag you know. Don't turn this into some kind of enemy but cultivate a kind attitude towards your own virtual patterns and don't act them out but don't repress them but be there get to know their energy very well with Kind open heart and mind so even that sounds might sound good but then the question is well. How do you do that but you do it? By starting to meditate people have many different styles of meditation. But most Buddhist Meditation has a lot of similarity to it and it's all about a open acceptance of whatever arises without getting caught in good and bad thinking. So that's where you start you start with acknowledging what's happening with you and then the expression is always something like making friends with that or being friendly towards that or you know welcoming that. I try not to use language. That's too corny but nevertheless I I use it quite a bit of it in any case like embrace and some things like that so that's the basis and from that you begin to get in touch as time goes on. You begin to have confidence. Really that fundamentally you are good person and you have habitual patterns to work on. But you have the strength in you to do that. And then an takes a lot of patients and sense of humor. But you work with yourself that way and That doesn't maybe sound so in a linear way how that adds up to being able to be comfortable with uncertainty. But in fact that's where it leads you because you get comfortable with the unpleasantness or the fear producing quality of seeing yourself so clearly you know but then the idea is to make friends with that so then the other thing that always taught is that to the degree that you can be friendly to yourself you will be friendly towards others to the degree that you can make friends with yourself unconditionally. You'll be able to have an unconditional regard and openness to other people.