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When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times
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When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  21,826 Ratings  ·  1,228 Reviews
Still appearing on the Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists, this invaluable guide to finding happiness in difficult times is now available in massmarket for the first time. Pema Chodron reveals the vast potential for happiness, wisdom and courage even in the most painful circumstances. Pema Chodron teaches that there is a fundamental opportunity for happiness right within ...more
Paperback, 193 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Element Books (first published December 24th 1996)
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Sep 13, 2008 Kristy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over and over again. I LOVE her and her simple, straightforward way of talking about really deep spirituality. What initially attracted me to this book is kind of a funny story actually, I was going through a rough breakup and happened to be wandering through the stacks at the ICPL. I pulled this book off the shelf, just by chance.

So she begins the book by telling the story of how her marriage ended, when her husband drove up to their house one day and announced that he had met
Sep 26, 2007 Kermit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My therapist recommended this book when I was dealing with the end of my 11-yr relationship. She introduced it to me saying that often, when things seems the darkest, it just means we on the verge of breakthrough. I was like "OK, that makes some sense." Then it sat on my book shelf for 8 YEARS! Then my roommate Anya read it and told me it was a MUST READ. So I did. Wow! No, really ... WOW!

I have never heard Buddhist philosophy laid out so clearly and accessibly for the Western mind. And you don'
Jan 03, 2008 Miv rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book nearly 10 years ago when I was going through a difficult, painful divorce. This book set me on a path of healing that has continued to the present day. I have recently gone through an even more devastating loss - the death of my daughter - and I went back to this book, and found its gentle wisdom helped me go through my grief and find my sanity. I recommend this book to anyone going through loss, or, for that matter, for anyone going through LIFE, since we will all inevita ...more
David Peirce
Apr 22, 2013 David Peirce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pema Chodron is one of the first Buddhist writers I found as I began to explore Buddhist philosophy, along with Tara Brach and Thich Nhat Hanh. These are writers who understand the disconnection of Western culture.

She writes and talks primarily about dealing with both the subtle undercurrent of fear and the rushes of fear from turbulent events that we all face in life from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. This is my favorite book by her of the 4 or 5 that I own, and I've read it at least 10 time
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book has come up multiple times in conversation in the last year so I decided to get it from the library. This will be a book I will buy to keep in my collection, to pull off the shelf and read bits of when I'm having a rough time. I actually wish I had it a couple of years ago when things really did fall apart for a while. More typically, life is full of moments where minor things go wrong, when you get angry or sad about a particular situation, or when you get bogged down with the shoulds ...more
Nita Costello
Apr 04, 2012 Nita Costello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was divine intervention that I found & read this book. I had just hurriedly packed a trailer full of stuff & moved out of my house. I was in a bad place. I lost my job. My marriage was a huge disaster. And at age 30, I had to move in with my parents along with my son, 12. I was so wrecked, I often went into the bathroom to cry. I didn't want my son to see me in this state. Broken. I stayed in a depression for months. Seeing this, my mom suggested we go to Half Price Books to get out o ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought-provoking book about embracing pain and approaching our struggles with openness and curiosity. Similar to Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, When Things Fall Apart encourages us to accept our fears to better understand them, instead of running away from our doubts or distracting ourselves in unhealthful ways. As someone who has had his fair share of traumas and heartbreaks - as well as joys and privileges - I loved Pema Chodron's continued emphasis on appreciating times of pain as wel ...more
May 21, 2012 Sienna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2012
This is the sort of book that enters your life precisely when you need it, when you're living the title and not much else. Or, more precisely, this is the sort of book you don't pick up until you need it — when your husband hands you his copy, your mother extols the virtues of the author and your best friend nods sagely from the other side of the world because if there's no wisdom in love, where are you going to find it? Take another look.

There's so much to admire in Buddhism, and so little, I'v
Jan 06, 2009 Survivors rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Quite possibly the most impacting book I have ever read in my life. I picked this up when I thought things were going wonderfully. I had no idea how much more there was in life. "As I become more wholehearted in my journey of gentle honesty, it comes as quite a shock to realize how much I've blinded myself to some of the ways I've caused harm. My style has been so ingrained that I've not heard when others have tried to tell me, either kindly or rudely that I am causing harm by the way I am or th ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I was just finishing this book in September 2001 when the events of 9-11 turned the world upside down, and things truly fell apart. There suddenly were all the vulnerable feelings that Pema Chödrön encourages us to embrace: fear, sorrow, loneliness, groundlessness. And in the days of shock and grief that followed, there was that brief and abundant display of "maitri," or loving kindness, which emerged in waves of generosity and compassion for one another. For a while, we were in the world that s ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Leslie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those great keepers you read, reread and then loan to friends in times of need. Though I was baptized an Episcopaelian, I appreciate the philosophy and spirituality of most religions. This I first read after my mom was killed before Christmas the year I got my B.A., when I devoured everything from Thich Nhat Hanh to Mother Teresa to Gandhi and the Bible and even Dr. Phil. The great message is remembering that we need to learn to live with this sort of groundlessness, when the worl ...more
Sondra Jones
Dec 10, 2013 Sondra Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Chodron calls us to "an unconditional relationship with reality".

Here are two quotes that capture this book's essence for me.

"When we are training in the art of peace, we are not given any promises that, because of our noble intentions, everything will be ok. In fact, there are no promises of fruition at all. Instead, we are encouraged to simply look deeply at joy and sorrow, at laughing and crying, at hoping and fearing, at all that lives and dies. We learn that what truly heals
Paul Ivanov
May 29, 2012 Paul Ivanov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, borrowed
This was my first Buddhist-related read for a decade, now, and I was able to reflect on how large chunks of my overall attitude toward life was shaped by the few sources I read back then. Reading this now not only helped that sink in, but also provided much needed advice for difficult times, as advertised by the subtitle.

Useful read. It was recommended by and borrowed from my therapist (reading some reviews, I see at least one other person who got the same recommendation from his). I did not car
Aug 30, 2013 Cooljoe815 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me because during this time, I lost my dad and I was grieving. I am not familiar with the teaching of Buddha. I never read or study it. When Things Fall Apart is not the kind of book I would normally read. But I was curious and I respect and admire the person that recommended it.

The book goes against the grain of what we are taught about suffering and pain. Chodron says that life is suffering and that through suffering we get closer to enlightenment. I don't know, su
Julie C
Apr 29, 2007 Julie C rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone ready to transform his/her perspective
this book was a refreshing look at how we deal with the not-so-good things in life, and what tools we have within ourselves to help navigate those times. one of the most important things i came to understand is that things like sadness, anger, frustration, feelings of instability, etc. are not inherently bad things. rather, they are challenging. they can present themselves as obstacles. but in reality, they are incredible teachers within our own personal experience that help us to grow. sometime ...more
C.E. G
Dec 17, 2013 C.E. G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't worry, I'm not going through "difficult times" right now, but despite this book's title, it had a lot of good insight for not-falling-apart lives, too. I was less interested in some of her discussions of meditation, so I skimmed some parts.

This is where the review ends and my shamefully public journaling begins.

One of the ideas that I want to remember - maybe get tattooed? - is the idea of life situations as sand castles. Chodron talks about how we might put a lot of time and pride into so
Dec 26, 2009 Anf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was first introduced to Pema Chödrön's work when I was on the road, traveling from Toronto to Vancouver via Recreational Vehicle with five other travelers. It was a trip full of lessons but I'll save that story for another time.

Recently I was dealing with the challenges of letting go, an attachment. I'm still working through it. So it was timely that I came upon this work and weeks after placing it on hold at my local library I finally got a hold of it. It is well written and I like how Chödr
Jul 23, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is easily one of the most important books I've ever read. I've been dealing with a lot of stress lately and I think somehow this book found me at just the right time. Chödrön explores an incredible number of useful lessons in empathy, compassion, and patience in such a short number of pages. This is one of those books you could read a chapter of every day for the rest of your life and you would always find something new, something useful to help you live your life in a better way. She talks ...more
Julie Ehlers
This was wonderful. Pema Chodron expresses Buddhist ideas in such a joyful, irresistible way. Everyone should read this book.
Caidyn (BW Book Reviews)
Jan 08, 2017 Caidyn (BW Book Reviews) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who is currently going through a hard time.

For me, everything fell apart in the early morning of November 9, 2016. I don't think that I need to say anything else other than that, but that day was the first time I really picked up a book by Pema Chodron. I'd read some of her work for a world religion class, but that was it. And my mom has the hugest admiration of her, so I've heard her name in passing before. However, since then, it's been hard. Chodron's note at the end of the book about how rough times are here and that we can choose
Jan 21, 2017 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using the Buddhist philosophies and teachings as its basis, Pema's message in this book is to not run away from our difficulties, our pain, our fears but to run towards them as this is the only way forward and the only way to heal. Through the practice of mindfulness and meditation and through compassion for and acceptance of others can we come through the darkness. We need to look outward in order to help ourselves and others. And most importantly and perhaps the hardest of all, is that we need ...more
Dec 31, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. So many things fell apart in 2016 and I'm sure more things will in 2017. If only we could all adopt the wisdom from this book. I'm glad this is my last book read in 2016.
Feb 28, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Janet by: The Universe
In my "perfect little world", everyone would own this book...and, read it annually. Kinda silly of me to say this being that the whole point of the book is that, not only is life not perfect, it's not even safe and secure.

I found this book shortly after the love of my life made a (necessary) choice to let me go. I held myself together just long enough to walk through my front door...28 hours after leaving Europe. A couple of days later, I was looking for a quote to hold on to. I ended up at Goo
Reja Janaki Joy Green
This book is a very gentle guide for every one of us. We need not wait until we experience problems in holding everything together before we benefit from this wisdom. Just being alive in a body and breathing qualifies us! The authoe tells us that she is merely passing on the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche, telling us: "May these teachings take root and flourish for the benefit of all sentient beings now and in the future."

I just now opened the book up at random and noticed what I had underlined:
Michelle Covey
"If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path." Ok....that makes sense. Pain and insecurities can not be avoided. The rest of Chapter 8 - Hopelessness and Death goes on to tell us pretty much not to have hope in anything. That nothing in this world will ever bring us security and that if we go on doing things with any hope, especially the hope of se ...more
Jenna Stone
Sep 07, 2014 Jenna Stone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
The title is a bit overwhelming -so when it was handed to me - I thought, "Great! This is how I am presenting myself - a total mess." However; I'm not sure I've met any adult who wouldn't benefit from the wisdom of this book.

Pema Chodron is also quick to inject humor into even the most serious discussions. For example, it was unexpected to read that she threw a coffee cup at her now ex-husband's head. Wasn't she always perfect? Isn't she still? She isn't and she is the first to tell you so.

Amy Vernon
Aug 03, 2013 Amy Vernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read self-help type books. Read this one and it really helped me out in a stressful time. Very simple, logical advice on how to look at things.
Mar 23, 2011 Barb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the title WHEN THINGS FALL APART it sounded like the book would give advice and steps to follow in order to handle life when a loved one dies, when you discover you have cancer, or when you are faced with a divorce, etc. It does that, at least to some extent, but it mostly gives words of wisdom for use in our daily lives. In short, in order to handle the difficult times, you must prepare by meditating, and indeed, by changing you life today and every day hereafter.

I found some words
With everything that's happened in my life this year, my mom found this book and thought it would be a good read for me. And indeed, the title was very very fitting, however, actually applying what is in this book could prove to be very difficult.

Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist and as such, this book is mainly about Buddhism and its practices. And maybe its just because I know barely anything about Buddhism, but I found this to be a very high level book. She talks about using dharmas, lonel
Connie  Kuntz
Jul 23, 2013 Connie Kuntz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Connie by: Eithne McMenamin
I thought this was going to be a fast read. I was wrong, and that is fine. I had to take at least a day to process each lesson, which is also fine. Great, actually. I enjoyed the lessons very much, especially the one about breathing in the bad and letting out the good.

For years I have never understood how people can benefit from taking a deep breath when they are upset. I always thought they were exhaling the negative. I have never been able to do that. How does one "let it all out?" Gag.

But i
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The Breakup 6 145 Nov 04, 2011 05:11AM  
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Ani Pema Chödrön (Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, closely associated with the Kagyu school and the Shambhala lineage.

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 g
More about Pema Chödrön...

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“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” 609 likes
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” 427 likes
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