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Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
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Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  2,054 ratings  ·  210 reviews
In this pithy, inspiring book, Pema Chödrön presents the Buddhist concept of shenpa, which can be translated as "getting stuck" or "getting hooked." Shenpa arises in that moment when life suddenly becomes disappointing, difficult, or painful. Perhaps someone criticizes your work, your appearance, or your child. Something within you tightens, shuts down. That's shenpa. Afte...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Shambhala Library (first published September 8th 2008)
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What’s so lovely about this slim book is that it’s light as a feather—Buddhist concepts are relieved of their cumbersome weight for the average Western idiot—but it doesn’t feel silly or condescending. Chodron personalizes every discussion with earthy vignettes from her own life, and her simplicity and directness keep us interested. The large print doesn’t hurt, either. I’d recommend this to people interested in Buddhism, but also to those who might be just a little squeamish.

“Taking the Leap” i...more
Michele Harrod
Now this little book took me a while to get into, I started it, got busy, tried again, got distracted - until finally I did take the leap, and put all else aside and read it last week. Why the delay, I wonder? I suspect I was a little reluctant to actually let go of a few old habits.

It's funny how you do make the time for books, right when you are ready to recieve their message.

I loved this one for the introduction to the concept of 'Shenpa'. The emotions that rise up in us (rage, frustration,...more
I enjoyed "Taking the Leap." It is a quick read, and one that I thought might be helpful in this time in my life.

A few excerpts I found powerul:

"The source of our unease is the unfulfillable longing for a lasting certainty and security, for something solid to hold on to. Unconsciously we expect that if we could just get the right job, the right partner, the right something, our lives would run smoothly...We are never encouraged to experience the ebb and flow of our moods, of our health, of the...more
Experience Life
Faced with the scope of the planet’s present challenges, not to mention our own day-to-day difficulties, it’s not surprising that we sometimes feel the need to numb ourselves to the world around us. The obvious drawback to this survival tactic, notes Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, is that we can wind up missing the whole show. The here and now is where life happens, after all. That’s why Chödrön’s latest book teaches the simple art of remaining present with what is and overcoming the attraction...more
I didn't really find much difference between chapters, they seem to re-iterate the teaching of not getting hooked, which is good, but personally, I found I would like to have read a bit *more* life-experience examples, as that helps me to better take in and understand what I'm reading. That said, Pema Chödrön is good at teaching, and I like her humility and her frankness, about her own pitfalls and experiences (as I said, though, I just wish there were more examples, or something, as I find I le...more
I seriously considered buying this book so I could read it again and again during difficult times! I have considered reading this author before, when I saw this on the NFNR table and it was only 100 pages I jumped on it. I am so glad I did!

It seems to be a culmination of many things I have learned in the past 18 months! It is about being present in the moment and allowing yourself to feel your feelings as a way to get to know yourself and move forward in life. One of the biggest things I learned...more
Alison Kulik
A very uplifing an useful book. The major points can seem lost in the content, but one could say the content itself is the most important. This is a book I will always have on my coffee table, a reference so to speak, for when I'm feeling out of sorts or like I'm a fish on a hook. It gives great insight into many Buddhist beliefs, the main focus of which is that we must first learn to be compassionate and accepting of ourselves without deception, before we can be compassionate towards others. Pe...more
I would say my only complaint about Pema's book is that it's too short, but at 100 pages, it's not. There are pearls of wisdom on every page, and this slim volume of Buddhist thought - focused on staying with your emotions, leaning into pain, sitting with the hard stuff - is just right. It begs to be reread, to be handed off to a friend in need.

Pema writes with clarity, wit, and sensibility. She speaks to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, focusing on working through our habitual patterns, diff...more
TJ Shelby
I absolutely loved this book. Maybe it was a combination of timing: me ready to move on from certain things in my past and my current fascination with eastern philosophy. Here are a few of my favorite gems:

* "A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his gran...more
I love Pema Chödrön's books (and audio works). Like her others, I find it is best to read it in pieces so that you can process what you've read as you go. Then, when you get to the end, start over, because you will pick up new insights each time and think of new ways in which they apply to your life. Parts of this book cover the same material as her audio called "Don't Bite The Hook." It's helpful for me to hear the information again and again, so I don't mind the repetition. Taking the Leap off...more
Liking this book is probably highly subjective, more so than other types of books. I say this because of the subject matter. If Chodron's philosophies, and the related Buddhist philosophies, speak to you, then you'll like it.

The first half of the book deeply resonated with me and I found it incredibly helpful on a personal level. I'll go ahead and share an example:
"...we feel this uneasiness because we're always trying to get ground under our feet and it never quite works. We're always looking
Another good and thought provoking book by Chodron. She shakes things up a bit by redefining shenpa as "hooked" (rather than the traditional "attachment" that folks familiar with Buddhism are used to). But in any case, it works with the way she explains her point of view of dealing with our cyclical problems, and how to begin to break the cycle.

First, acknowledge that you've been hooked again (by whatever your trigger is--a thing, insult, person, etc.).

Second, pause and take 3 conscious breaths,...more
I read this book by reading one short chapter at a time. It was my first book on Buddhism and I really wanted to understand and internalize the teachings. I read it at a time in my life when I was trying to figure out how to stop over-reacting in a negative way to a certain person. This book really teaches you how to do that. Pema Chodron talks about how we are hooked to reacting in certain ways and how to let go off doing that but taking deliberate pauses in our day and feeling those uncomforta...more
Jeff Friedman
Offers some good advice, but nothing earth shattering, and a bit repetitive. But, a short read, and I did take away some positive things to practice.
As much as I enjoyed reading this, and hope to employ its advice in my own life, it seems to me it probably could have been covered in about a page or two.
For me this book really hit the spot. Advises seem simple enough to start trying. By simple I don't mean easy, but simple and understandable enough to give a try to stop and pause and be present even just few breaths. The book raised many questions in my mind. I don't agree with everything but most of it makes sense to me and I would like to understand better.

I basically don't know much about Buddhism or mindfulness and I'm certainly not a religious type of a person. I didn't find lack of those...more
So far so good. All stuff I needed to hear at this point in my life.
I love Pema Chodron's books. In this book she teaches the concept of shenpa. This is basically anything that can charge you or get you hooked in a cycle of thought, such as a negative comment or an issue you are passionate about to the point of you closing out others' points of view. The challenge of course is to recognize it when it arises.

The other mini lesson I took from this book was the merit of being able to sit with a bad feeling, release the tension around it but not try to dismiss it o...more
A brief call-away-from-arms with a realistic idea of how to do that. Pema Chodron believes that "fundamentally, our minds are expansive, flexible, and curious" (6) and you can return to that open, kind state of mind again and again when "you pause and allow there to be a gap in whatever you're doing." (8)

I loved her extended metaphor of ego, or shenpa, as an itch plus our scratching: "scratching is our habitual way of trying to get away, trying to escape our fundamental discomfort, the fundament...more
I am grateful to have found this book of Chodron's at our public library. I found it so much more accessable than When Things Fall Apart, which is better known (longer) and quite frankly I found it brutal . Being a person just beginning to practice Vipassna meditation, and embrace, or shoud I say, accept the 4 Noble Truths, I found WTFA to be very well-written, but perhaps not considering the audience as much as the urgency of her message. Taking the Leap is consice, practical, and definately co...more
Oct 16, 2011 Robin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone looking to change thier lifestyle
If this book works for you - good
If this book doesn't - set it aside and look elsewhere
I heard the Dalai Lama once say that if a Buddhist teaching helps you than use it, if it doesn't than don't and not to worry.

This book, along with Pema's other works, is helping me let go of negativity and an addiction. I've found peace and am working towards having more spirituality in my life. I think the "trick" to this book being a help in life is being in a place of desire for change through these teachin...more
"Deep down in the human spirit there is a reservoir of courage. It is always available, always waiting to be discovered." -Pema Chodron.

One of many enlightening passages that makes up this small intimate book of wisdom. From page one, Chodron takes hold of your mind, grasping at any analogy, turn of phrase, storyline, even her own personal experiences, to help you realize that your own shortcomings should not be a reason to fall apart. By realizing your own faults, you are demonstrating a great...more
Oh my goodness. This is the written form of a series of lectures that Chodron gave at a meditation retreat. I listened to these lectures by buying them on itunes under the title "Getting Unstuck," but I read the book as well. It is truly one of the most deeply TRUE and important books I've ever read. Revelatory. I suppose the depth of how much Pema's words affect and move you to action depend upon where you are in your spiritual and psychological work; that said, her description of karma as real...more
Help seams to find its way to us, even when we least expect it to.
And in my case it came in the shape of a book.
The person who lent me this book had no idea that they were also giving me just what I needed to feel better.
I'm not saying it was utterly life-changing and now I have a new lifestyle. It just simply had all the right words my conscience needed to hear.

As a teenager, I don't have as much responsibilities as, say, my parents or anyone with a job and others to look after, but I do h...more
A really down to earth coverage of some Buddhist principles. I can actually say that Chodron pulled out a few metaphors and images that were entirely new and apt. As much as I agree with Buddhist philosophy and practice, Buddhist writings often leave me cold because the language often doesn't breathe (no pun intended).
Chodron's book gave me something to latch onto and think about. However, as in other Buddhist writings, the areas of toxic anger and shame are over emphasized, in my opinion. Thou...more
To me it wasn't so much about fears and habits but rather something bigger that encompasses those things: that feeling of being hooked. I kept putting it down at first. Then a few months later, after some experiencing and discovering of my own, I picked it up again and found that it reaffirmed my epiphanies. Only, Pema Chodron was able to put them into words when I could not. It helped this life lesson take on a more solid form so that I would not forget. This book was very helpful and insightfu...more
Someone else described this book as follows:
A brief call-away-from-arms with a realistic idea of how to do that.

I'll go with that. It's basically a reminder about not getting sucked into drama -- especially self-created (which most drama is) and that we always have a choice in how we respond to situations.

I can't say there was anything new or earthshaking here, but not everything needs to be an epiphany.
Dave Frey
(review based on partial read: I had to return the book before finishing)

I borrowed this after finding it at my sister-in-law's. The most useful bit for me was her development of shenpa, which was a new word for me but maps well to my own understanding of "the itch, plus the desire to scratch". She also gives a few practice suggestions that seem to me very doable and potentially useful.

I was a bit put off by some of her broad statements: we all have absolutely zero tolerance for not knowing, or...more
Not sure what "shelf" to put this on as I am reading this on a daily basis over and over again. My greatest tendency is to worry about both the real - will I have enough money to pay for my kid's imminent braces? - and imaginary - if I walk around the city at 4 am, what could happen? - things and every time I pick up this book, I stop and breathe 3 times and relax. Just breathe 3 times. What a difference it makes in my little world.

It's not a book about worrying, per se. It's any habit that lim...more
Celia Juliano
Taking the Leap is a short, but profound, book. It is deceptively simple, and Chodron's style is easy to read, yet there is a lot to process in the book about freeing ourselves from habits. The anecdotes and terminology resonated with me in helpful and memorable ways, and I appreciated Chodron's reminders that part of freeing ourselves lies in being gentle with ourselves. I'll be rereading this one.
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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
More about Pema Chödrön...
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion

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“Words themselves are neutral. It's the charge we add to them that matters” 8 likes
“A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, “The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.” 5 likes
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