This course by renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher and writer, Pema Chodron, is designed to help you break free of old habits and negative patterns.
These lessons will assist you in accessing your ability to make better choices in your daily life.
You’ll understand not only what it means to be hooked to old patterns and habits, but also how you can go beyond them.
If you’ve been struggling with reacting in less than ideal ways to various situations, whether you lash out, write nasty letters, or shut down, this course will teach you how to change those patterns and react in a more grounded, calm way.
Recognize and Release Negative Patterns of Behavior
- Learn How to Determine What Negative Habits You’re Hooked On
- Replace Old Patterns with New, Positive Ways of Reacting
- Become More Grounded, Peaceful, Free, and Joyful
Unhook Yourself from Suffering and Allow Joy to Flourish
As you move through this course, you’ll begin to understand why so many people suffer because of their own choices and actions.
In addition to Buddhist philosophy, you’ll also tap into other tools that you can use daily, such as a simple meditation that anyone can do at any time.
Pema will even guide you through the importance of finally unhooking yourself so you can begin to change and welcome more joy into your life.
Contents and Overview
This course begins by diving into the Three Difficult Practices.
You’ll notice when you get hooked, as well as how to do something different and make this exploration a way of life for continued progress.
Before moving on, you’ll learn a basic sitting meditation to practice mindfulness-awareness. This will further assist you in understanding what you’re learning and implementing it.
Next, you’ll be ready to hone in on the first difficult practice, which is acknowledging how you become hooked or caught in bad habits.
You’ll also learn about a Tibetan term, shenpa, and the Eight Worldly Dharmas in order to comprehend the quality of being hooked.
Finally, Pema will continue to explore and explain shenpa as it relates to everyday decisions and old patterns of action.
You’ll learn how to sow positive seeds through your actions so they can bloom into future freedom and joy. In this way, you won’t be stuck in your old negative patterns of suffering any longer.
Bonus material is a live session with Glenna Olmstead, during which you’ll learn how to find new ways of integrating Pema’s lessons into your life.
By the end of this course, you’ll be able to recognize when you’re hooked and why you’re hooked, but you’ll also realize that you have a choice.
You’ll know how to stop the chain reaction of shenpa and go in a different direction towards a joyful practice that will lead you away from suffering.
The road to personal transformation isn't always easy. Pema refers to this approach of getting unstuck as “The Three Difficult Practices.” Opening our first section together with her warm and engaging style, Pema helps us see how we can use these practices in our daily lives for better flow and acceptance. We begin by reviewing the first step of noticing how we get hooked, followed by the second step of choosing a fresh alternative. To help us interrupt the momentum of these moments that keep our suffering alive—a courageous and challenging task for anyone—Pema shares her personal story and a guided meditation. Finally, we'll explore the last step of making this exploration a way of life.
- Positive groundlessness and how it's critical to the process of getting unstuck
- How to relax into uncertainty
- Delighting—rather than despairing—in discovering where we are hooked
- How we “feed” our habit of resentment and anger
- The value of sitting meditation in helping us get unstuck
- A mindful-awareness practice for helping us understand and realize these teachings at the deepest level
- Are you aware of what it feels like to “get hooked,” as Pema introduces the concept during this section? What does getting hooked look and feel like for you?
- What is your understanding of the notion of “positive groundlessness” as introduced during this section?
Questions for Reflection:
- How do you see sitting meditation and/or other contemplative practices as useful in your life? What is their purpose?
- What was your experience of the meditation with Pema in this session?
- Do you have an intention for this course? What is it that you hope to accomplish or learn, or otherwise gain from the course?
Practice Tip: Engage in a contemplative practice at least two or three times during the next week. After each section, write two to three paragraphs about your experience.
What's your preferred “hooking style” and method of dealing with discomfort? In this section, we'll delve deeper into the first of The Three Difficult Practices in order to help answer this question and explore our patterns of habituation. Pema will explore the meaning of the Tibetan term shenpa, which refers to the quality of being hooked or caught, and then illustrates shenpa with a classic story of what getting hooked looks like. We'll discuss how this chain reaction of events works and how the power of the pause can help us.
- Physical, mental, or emotional signs to recognize when you've been triggered
- How shenpa is like poison ivy—and how our first instinct often makes matters worse
- Ego clinging and how it affects our ability to be present
- How to let go of a story line and stay with the underlying energy
- The war of the itch—to do it or not—and how meditation helps us access a peaceful inner space
Questions for Reflection:
- Write about a recent situation in which you became hooked during a conversation with another person. What happened? How did you feel? How did you respond?
- In what ways do you “throw kerosene” on the shenpa in your life? Please write about a recent example.
- What are your unique strategies for avoiding the discomfort of arising shenpa in the moment? Please write about a recent example.
Practice Tip: Over the next week, observe how you “throw kerosene” on the shenpa in your life. Pay attention to the unique ways in which you escalate challenging situations through acting or speaking habitually. Pick one situation in particular and write down your observations.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you able to notice “shenpa speak” in your life? How does it express itself for you?
- Reflect on a recent situation in which you left the immediacy of your felt experience and followed a storyline in your mind, as a way to avoid feeling uncomfortable. What was this like? What was the result? How might you have chosen differently?
Practice Tip: For one or more days this week, begin your day with an aspiration to be as aware as possible, throughout the entire day, of shenpa arising in your experience. Then, in the evening before you go to sleep, write about what you discovered.
When we act in ways that are habitual and derived from following our desire for comfort and security, we create the potential for future suffering and confusion. Instead, we can act in new ways that arise from our own fundamental intelligence. This ultimately helps us create the potential for future happiness, love, and joy. In this section, we continue our process of getting unstuck by discussing how we can do something different and sow the seeds of freedom.
- How sitting in the fire of your direct experience can help burn up old karmic seeds and cultivate new ones
- The courageous act of not doing
- Finding your unique wisdom by staying with what is
- How groundlessness can actually help support our transformation
- In what ways do you notice yourself repeating habits of speech or action that bring about suffering to yourself or others? In what ways do you notice yourself “scratching the itch” of shenpa?
- What is your understanding and experience of what Pema refers to when she speaks about “sitting in the fire of direct experience”?
Practice Tip: Notice this week the ways in which you scratch the itch of shenpa. Pick one example in particular and write about your experience.
- There are no requirements to take this course. All you need is some time to listen to the lectures and implement the practices.
- Recognize negative patterns of behavior and negative reactions to people and circumstances in daily life
- Understand Buddhist lessons on the Three Difficult Practices in order to move away from negative patterns and establish positive reactions
- Release suffering that is caused by being hooked to old habits, making room for joy and freedom
Ani Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.
While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him.
Pema first met her root guru, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.
Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns.
Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is also a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the oldest son and lineage holder of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. Her non-profit, The Pema Chödrön Foundation, was set up to assist in this purpose.
She has written several books: The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time To Lose,Practicing Peace in Times of War, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully. All are available from Shambhala Publications and Sounds True.
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