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The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  6,841 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Pema Chödrön may have more good one-liners than a Groucho Marx retrospective, but this nun's stingers go straight to the heart: "The essence of bravery is being without self-deception"; "When we practice generosity, we become intimate with our grasping"; "Difficult people are the greatest teachers." These are the punctuations to specific teachings of fearlessness. In The P ...more
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Published (first published 2001)
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As I was brushing my teeth this morning after finishing this book, this line came into my head:

When I find myself of times of trouble, Pema Chodron calls to me, speaking words of wisdom: Let it be...

Corny, huh? Totally true. I read When Things Fall Apart over a year ago when I was going through a really rough time, and when I hit a serious road block nearly two months ago, I picked this'n up. In similar fashion with my reading habits of late, I only just finished this wonderful morsel. I won't b
In the current age of anxiety, Pema Chödrön is both a refreshing and challenging voice. Basically, she encourages us to see problems as spiritual opportunities. Instead of trying to run from discomfort, she advocates staying put and learning about ourselves. Instead of habitually reaching for whatever palliative gives relief -- always temporary -- she suggests feeling and observing our discomforts, becoming more fully present in our lives, learning how to be truly here now. Only through this pro ...more
I was at B&N looking for some other book when I mistakenly picked up this one so I placed it back on the shelf and thought nothing of it. The next day I went back to B&N to purchase a different book and I accidently pick this same book up AGAIN. SO I placed it back on the shelf (the top shelf) and continued looking. Then out of nowhere the books from the top shelf fell on my head. When I looked at the pile they were all books by Pema Chodron. So, I began picking them up and when I looked ...more
took this book to read on my first jury duty summons... Didn't realize I was reading a "self-help" book until I was done. Uplifting and encouraging... like a little Yoda in my backpack.
Tim Niland
As someone who deals with anxiety disorder, I'm always on the lookout for authors who have fresh perspectives on how to quiet the mind and ease the life of fear, and shifts from euphoria to deep depression. Chodron is a Buddhist monk, and her teachings are grounded in that philosophy, but she's far from doctrinaire, and many of her teachings can be applied to regular everyday secular agnostic life. Her suggestions like living in the present moment and being able to return to a calm center are id ...more
Esra Bestel

The most important part of this book is the last one, being in between. That is the place where I find myself over and over again.
Here how Pema explains it;
"We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and futility of running from pain. We hear about the joy of awakening, of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we are not told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to get our old comfort from outside but not y
Sarah Stephens
This is the first Chodron book I have read, though I have always been drawn to her titles. For example, I have been generally uncomfortable with uncertainty, and thought "I should read that book".

What I love about this book is the way she describes the practices both for moving towards compassion for ourselves and others and finding a true connection with ourselves and the world around us by training in acceptance of what is. This book could be comforting or terrifying depending on one's perspe
I've always been leery of the self-help genre. I'm mistrustful of anyone who tells me how to think, feel, act. I've also seen people read self-help books like serial novels, always chasing some specter of an ideal self with the assumption that their current self is somehow inadequate or broken. These two perspectives have always repelled me from most anything self-help. Pema Chödrön's The Places That Scare You came in a time of personal need and it's been a medicine I've enjoyed taking for deal ...more

“Patience is the training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed.”

What are the places that scare you?.

For me, I had preconceived notions of places I was scared to go to, but want to go to, and need to visit now and again in order to be balanced and at peace. Mainly, with the recent death of my mom, I know am afraid to visit the biggest parts of the grief but know I have to and in a big way, because I am the type of person that must look deeply
While at first glance this book might seem to be aimed towards those who have a problem with phobias, that isn't the case. The places that scare us aren't necessarily actual things, but are, in fact, found in ourselves. It seems that what we fear the most these days is something that simply can't be avoided- a loss of security and stability. We cling to things that make us feel stable, from not traveling to creating strict routines to eating pizza when we're depressed, even though we really can' ...more
Peter Landau
I hate self-help books almost as much as I hate sentences that begin with I. It’s the writing, which is uniformly poor, at least I think so. Bad writing is hand-holding writing. I’m not a dog in a collar being taken for a walk on a leash. But maybe I should be.

My wife gave me THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU: A GUIDE TO FEARLESSNESS IN DIFFICULT TIMES by Pema Chödrön as a Father’s Day gift. I read it right away, snapping the neck of my routine reading schedule to hang by its own anxiety until dead.

This book, a gift from my friend Taylor, surprised me a bit. Its about balancing your inner self through a series of compassionate exercises. The book talks about buddhicitta, a way of awakening yourself by walking a middle path. It shows you how to sit with yourself and accept all the things that make you an individual-- the good and the bad. Just sitting around is something I don't do often and I know I need to face up to what I am rather than just being a human doing. I know I've picked up so ...more
I've been reading this for a while (5 months!) and really can't get into it, although I love the author and her ideas definitely resonate with me. I keep reading a few chapters, putting it down for a few weeks, picking it up again and finding myself lost, having to start all over. I think this is a book that you come back to and read when the mood strikes, not a read all the way through book for me. Definitely good, but not right for me at this time. I might try it again years from now...

My inab
So I've read When Things Fall Apart an liked it relatively well and I'd say that I probably enjoyed The Places That Scare You even more, but some how Chodron just doesn't do it for me the way Thich Nhat Hanh does. I think part of the problem is that her recommendations come across a little more as religion rather than spirituality to me. What I mean by that is that there's a palpable sense of doctrine. For instance in this book Chodron offers a set of sayings that are included in an appendix and ...more

"Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?"

"Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort. We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. What begins as a slight shift of energy - a minor tightening of our stomach, a vague, indefinable feeling that something bad is about to happen - escalates into addiction. This is our way of trying to make life predict
Did I mention how much I love Pema, how as someone who, drifting through life, I found her books and felt like I had finally met someone who understood me? Just when I needed help her books appeared. That's how it is with the teachings. Also, when you read her books and Chogyam Trungpa's books, they seem to say different things at different times in your life.
Michele Harrod
What scares me is how long it took me to read this tiny gem. It must be one of those books that arrive in your hands at the right time, and needed to stay there for a while too. Hot on the heels of "The Shadow Effect", this book reiterated the freedom that comes from accepting ourselves, and our pain and foibles, and sitting with those feelings rather than shutting them down. And from non-attachment (to things, people, events, and outcomes). Of sitting with life and accepting 'what is' without t ...more
Pema Chodron has a way of bringing ambiguous Buddhist teachings to life in a way that one can really see how they can be immediately applied to one's day to day life. In 'The Places That Scare You' Pema provides some great tools to deal with uncertainty.

As I was reading, I could instantly apply many of the teachings directly to difficulties I'm facing in my own life, from uncertainty at work, uncertainty in my personal life, chronic and constantly evolving medical issues that I struggle to deal
Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun living in a Western monastery in Nova Scotia. In her book, The Places that Scare You, Chodron shares "a guide to fearlessness in difficult times." I found it practical, easy to read and engaging, as if I was sitting down with a mentor over a cup of tea and having a conversation about these practices. I feel this book would appeal to anyone who is going through a difficult time or high rate of transitions in his/her life, particularly those who have a curiosity or i ...more
This is my first book by Pema. I found myself drifting in and out due to her writing style, but I'm not exactly sure why. It could be due to her lack of clear examples at times, Buddhist terms, and overall accessibility of the concepts. The end seemed to turn completely around, however. It was as though she took a hiatus from her writing and found her voice. It picked up in speed while becoming more clear and accessible, along with practical tips on what one could do. That alone deserved 1-2 sta ...more
Not too long ago I decided it was time to face my fears. I wish I had found this book then. Chodron offers a much more sensible approach than the route I took (I basically forced myself to do things I was afraid to do - some of them kinda dangerous and not so smart!)

As a Buddhist text, this is gentle light reading, and very accessible. It is a very good introduction to tonglen meditation, and helps to further an understanding of maitri, egolessness, and bodhichitta.

What I liked most about it Ch
What heart! What inspiration! Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, helps us touch Truth. She shines a light on meditative practices. Flavored with her personal journey and bits of Buddhist wisdom, she shares some life-altering insights, like the following gems: "Difficult people are the greatest teachers", "The essence of bravery is being without self-deception" and "When we practice generosity, we become intimate with our grasping". She offers tools for transforming our anxieties and negative emotions ...more
Eileen Dougherty
Pema Chodron is the ultimate Buddhist writer for the Western world. Born and raised in the US and married with children, she became a Buddhist nun later in life after divorce and lots of suffering. She approaches deep and complex topics with familiarity and makes them seem second nature. You can almost feel her embrace as you read her words, never chiding or belittleing, always welcoming and instructing. Her book The Places That Scare You takes the reader into the fears we just can't bring ourse ...more
This was my favorite Pema Chodron book yet, although I don't know how she would feel about assigning "favorites." Maybe it's more useful to say that I really responded to this book in that I felt it spoke to me, and that I could directly use the wisdom here in my everyday life.
I was curious to read the work of Pema Chodron after reading one of her quotes posted by a facebook friend. This book is a quick and easy read. I find reading contemporary buddhist texts to be intriguing just because of the simple yet universal lesson that can be gleaned from their pages that are relatable to many religious disciplines. This book which comes with an appendix called "Practices" can easily serve as a reference point to what Chodron refers to in the book such as compassion, aspirat ...more
The way Pema writes gives a clear understanding to the bare lessons of Buddhism. This book is a great source to learning more about being aware of one's own actions and feelings, especially the ones that we are so quick to mask and avoid. Important lessons I've learned: life is always changing, mixed with the good and bad; we should never avoid our feelings but remain in the moment, understand what its about and what it means about us/ourself, then move on. Then most importantly, love your neigh ...more
Pema, again, wonderful. The only issue I have here is that the ideal state of the conscious Bodhisattva warrior that she describes is so precise, so open, so non-judgmental--even when you think you're doing it--nay, as SOON as you think you're doing it right, you can't be doing it right. That said, I did a Tonglen breathing practice I learned from this book last night to alleviate a pretty devout case of nausea and was shocked that it worked. It takes so much courage to walk this path.
Pat Jennings
A great reference book that puts many fears into perspective while teaching practices that offer peace. I will read this again as there is too much to absorb. This would make a good for a great class just reading the chapters and discussing with a small group. Some of the terminology was not familiar to me but did not hamper the messages. Pema Chodron speaks with the voice of experience, loving kindness. She is an expert in helping to bring order in disordered lives.
Aug 13, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pretty much everyone can learn something here
Shelves: self-help-woo
"Who is this monolithic me that has been so offended? And who is this other person who can trigger me like this? What is this praise and blame that hooks me like a fish, that catches me like a mouse in a trap? How is it that these circumstances have the power to propel me like a ping-pong ball from hope to fear, from happiness to misery?" This big-deal struggle, this big-deal self, and this big-deal other could all be lightened up considerably.
Charlane Brady
I believe I have read this book 3 times now and each time I take something new with me. After this reading I see how much her words help me relax and be open to the truth of change.

This book is not just for difficult times. Pema's Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times is a guide to being open to life just as it is. The bonus is that we are given specific instructions on how to deal with our uncomfortable energy.

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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...
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for 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 Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears

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“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” 419 likes
“A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us. ” 174 likes
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