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

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  8,379 Ratings  ·  426 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
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2001)
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J.D. The physical CD is $70-$190+ for the audiobook (you can find it on eBay, Barnes & Noble's website, or on Amazon's website) -- but, this seems…moreThe physical CD is $70-$190+ for the audiobook (you can find it on eBay, Barnes & Noble's website, or on Amazon's website) -- but, this seems extremely overpriced, and like the sellers are attempting to take advantage of buyers. The audio download is available from Shambhala directly, here, and is much less expensive at $22.95:
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Apr 02, 2015 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
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
Apr 21, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jun 06, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2007 Vicki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ihaveacopy
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.
Esra Bestel
Sep 12, 2013 Esra Bestel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Oct 22, 2015 BrokenTune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

"We cling to a fixed idea of who we are and it cripples us. Nothing and no one is fixed. Whether the reality of change is a source of freedom for us or a source of horrific anxiety makes a significant difference. Do the days of our lives add up to further suffering or to increased capacity for joy? That’s an important question."

Not much to say about this one: Pema has a great way of explaining concepts relating to meditation, but I would not recommend this book to someone who is new to Budd
Tim Niland
Jul 10, 2011 Tim Niland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
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
Jan 26, 2013 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I got this from interlibrary loan after really enjoying When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. I would say I have the same struggles with this one - feeling rather overwhelmed by much of the Buddhist lingo that permeates the text, lacking any context of it other than the explanations provided in the book.

But there are some parts I really liked. Chapter 4, "Learning to Stay," discusses living with discomfort, whether that is physical, emotional, etc. I just kept thinking of a
Peter Landau
Jun 18, 2014 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Sep 07, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2009 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have only started this short book but I am already blown away. It was recommended to me years ago, but just now picked it up when I saw it at the library. The thing about Buddhist texts is that I often find myself reading something and thinking, "wow, I have missed that point all these years!" I don't know if I have missed them, or if I just forget and then come back to them or if I just wasnt ready to hear them the first 5 times, but no matter there are some potent thoughts in this little boo ...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
Sep 25, 2012 pri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012

"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
Feb 16, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Jan 01, 2009 Jaymi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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
Feb 11, 2016 anaïs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really beautiful book that makes ideas about Buddhism and meditation and the like very accessible. There are a thousand quotable lines and I've scribbled most of them down in my notebook, wanting to remember them by pressing a pen down to form the letters. A great read for someone going through a tough time but also just a generally great read for anyone? Because we've all been through tough times at some point? Unless you're a robot. But that's besides the point and I'm using humour to cover ...more
Larry Bassett
Mar 17, 2016 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My introduction to Buddhist thought

I try to be a pacifist but have never been much of a Buddhist. So this book is kind of an introduction to basic Buddhist thinking for me. It was recommended to me by a friend. I found the first few chapters of it alien but eventually caught onto the concepts. My personal reaction to Buddhism is that it is a bit wishy-washy and accepting of bad actions like war and killing. This is a book that probably deserves rereading for me.
May 05, 2009 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is a book on Tibetan Buddhism, with lots of practical affirmations and insights into how to meet the difficult times in our everyday life how to build courage to face our fears. This is a good book to have at home and re-read it many times.
After getting this book years ago, trying to read it, and finding it too glib, I put it away. Years later, I opened myself up and gave it another try. Honestly, I didn't find much difference between my impression then and my impression now.

Firstly, let me say that for a remarkably uneventful life, this might actually be an effective self-help book. Yet...I can't imagine someone with a remarkably uneventful life would actually need a self-help book. I say this because, when you're a veteran who'
Feb 03, 2016 Breck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, this book isn't as scary as it sounds :) I've enjoyed everything I've read by Pema Chodron and this one happened to be at the used book store.

While I haven't had to deal with nearly what some people go through, I do experience my own worries and anxieties, which sometimes last longer than they should. Here Pema reiterates her advice to learn to constructively work through what we are feeling and face our own fears and anxieties head on -- which of course is never easy, this path isn'
May 05, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
“…I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have that choice.” p. 3

I wish I had gotten more out of this book. The author was recommended by Barbara Brown Taylor and I usually find her books and suggestions to be on the mark. For some reason, I just could not get into what Chodron was saying. Each chapter had in
Michele Harrod
Aug 13, 2011 Michele Harrod rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2014 Ange rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2008 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 23, 2012 Eileen Dougherty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soul-stuff
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
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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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“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.” 525 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. ” 201 likes
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