When I chose this book many many months ago, I had no idea that there would be such a deep need for me to have this book appear on my to-read list. If you are feeling any feelings of unrest, it may be a nice time for you to pick up Living Beautifully by Pema Chodron. Having read other Pema works, there is certainly a beautiful underlying thread that connects the messages together.
In this particular work, Ms. Chodron challenges the notion that there is such a thing as stability in our world, and challenges us to find comfort in uncertainty. Rather than basing our ideas on progress on finding stable ground, Ms. Chodron asks that we focus on finding calm within our minds. She poses, “How can we relax and have genuine, passionate relationship with the fundamental uncertainty, the groundlessness of being human?”
Ms. Chodron moves through three steps to find a relationship with uncertainty, and with the everyday flux that we deal with. These Commitments are 1) Committing to Not Causing Harm, 2) Committing to Take Care of One Another and 3) Committing to Embrace the World Just as It Is. Finding acceptance in the way things are, and our ability to calmly move through whatever comes our way, is a true path to peace both internally and externally.
In the first commitment we make the effort to refrain from speech and actions that may cause harm to others. Ms. Chodron provides great examples of getting on and off of this path, and explains that none of these journeys are linear, and that there will be setbacks. When these sorts of events happen, we remind ourselves of our commitment and reaffirm our intentions towards not causing harm. Within Pema provides strategies and opportunities for practice of each of these commitments.
The second commitment pertains to our “vow to move consciously into the pain of the world in order to help alleviate it.” In this section Ms. Chodron discusses the many paths of the warrior, and the idea that how we chose to assist people will be different for each of us, and that there is no right path. In this section Ms Chodron discusses that though we not be able to alleviate the suffering of all people, if our intention is out there, we can certainly help some, and that is a great start.
Within the third commitment we learn how to stay comfortably within our groundlessness, and to relax into the continually changing nature of the world. Here we cannot hide from the world, or from ourselves. There are many people who are frightened of this step, and rightfully so. Ms. Chodron, again here, provides strategies of mindfulness, breathing, and trainings for the mind to get us in the right headspace. At one point Ms. Chodron says “We have to be willing to invite scary feelings to stay longer so that we can get to know them to their depth.” Though there is much value in this analysis, it can be challenging, and we can allow this process to take time. This commitment requires that we be intensely compassionate with ourselves, and give ourselves many permissions and allowances.
This book was a beautiful read, full of yogic techniques and in the future you will certainly see some of the meditation and mindfulness techniques from this book in blogs 🙂 If you are ready for a nice read, and a chance to move into 2017 with some strategies for dealing with uncertainty and change, this book may be a nice pick up for you!