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Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  4,903 ratings  ·  323 reviews
Comfortable with Uncertainty offers short, stand-alone teachings designed to help us cultivate compassion and awareness amid the challenges of daily living. Gleaned from Pema Chdrn's best-selling books, these passages explore topics of loving-kindness, mindfulness, "nowness," letting go, and working with painful emotions. They also offer meditation instructions for heighte ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Shambhala (first published 2002)
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Jeannie Mancini
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Years ago while in a period of personal turmoil, a dear friend of mine recommended a book titled ‘When Things Fall Apart” by female Buddhist monk Pema Chodron. I remember reading it and feeling connected to this woman’s words, and enjoying her writings of introductory Buddhism for the lay person. Now many years later I find myself yearning and seeking more out of life, and am interested in delving deeper into the practice and philosophy of Buddhist thought. I picked up a copy of the author’s boo ...more
Julie Ehlers
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first opened up Comfortable with Uncertainty, I was a bit surprised to discover that its contents were culled from four previous books by Pema Chödrön, and I was even more surprised to learn that they were the exact four books of hers I'd already read: Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places That Scare You, and The Wisdom of No Escape. Still, I wasn't particularly bothered. Let's be honest, Chödrön's books all say essentially the same things anyway; it's the review, the re ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
A super nice, amazing person gave me this book to read as I was in the fetal position over my husband's fifth bout of unemployment in eight years. I tried to get into this book.I can see its wisdom. However, what I really want is a different book, titled something like "Taking Bite-Sized Pieces of Ragged Flesh From the Bodies of Those Who Have Wronged Me" or "I Will Burn You And Your Entire Career To The Ground, Oh My Enemy."
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is intended to use as an accompaniment to practice, so not really the best to read from cover to cover. Short teachings on ways of thinking, ways of being for meditation and beyond. Looks like it is getting a reprint too, because I have a review copy for a version coming out March 27, 2018, but it was previously published in 2002 and 2003.

I particularly liked the discussion and application of tonglen, which is not often introduced as a beginner practice.

Thanks to the publisher for prov
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Have you ever heard the adage, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

This book is like that for me. I have had it for a few months now, and dipped into its very very short chapters from time to time. But recently I read it fully and it lifted a blind in my window.

Of course I had to get past the “Four truths of enlightenment” and the “Six beliefs of compassion” and the “Three ways of feeling pain“. The trite phrase “be here now” that I see in management training seminars and the seemi
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
You pick up a book like this with the expectation to emerge more enlightened in the end, when in fact the main thing it teaches you is to drop all expectations and just face whatever comes openly.

The three ideas I'd like to embrace from this book are mindfulness, facing your fears and that the path is the goal.

The three shortcomings that I found are the lack of responsibility for one's choices, disregard for goals of personal growth and most importantly the idea that only the present moment ma
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
When shit gets heavier than average, I often turn to Pema Chödrön. She reminds me to stand in the middle of it, and that even if im being waterboarded, im not drowning. It's not much of a consolation, but its something.

The practice of Tonglen struck me as particularly poignant, counter-intuitive, and ingenious. It is a powerful and direct technique that flips the craving/aversion coding we inherited from our ancestors on its head.

Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-to-live, buddhism
Short readings. Great for digesting in mornings while having a coffee, or during a lunch break -- small enough to fit in a purse. Really grounding and kind reminders to develop self compassion and bravery in being with others throughout the day. Very helpful book for me and the people who know me.
Smitha Murthy
Reading Pema is a bit like hugging a comfortable pillow in the night. A bit like a walk in the mild sunshine. A bit like curling snow in your palm. A bit like catching the first rain of summer. It’s peace. Happiness. Serenity. Wisdom. These 108 teachings are collected from Pema Chodron’s other books.

Much like ‘The Pocket Pema Chodron’ you need not read these teachings all at once nor forget about them once you are done. These are lessons you can randomly open one at a time and read it every oth
I've been so reticent to take this back to the library that I finally just bought a paperback copy. I'm also the world's worst library employee because... I dog-eared some pages. What delighted me about that, though, is that all the pages I turned down had been turned down previously. Kindred spirits, I guess.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
i read this very slowly over the course of a year while petting my cat and i'm still in samsara-town. but pema chodron is like my nice grandmotherly neighbor in samsara-town (where i will live forever) who lends me some sugar when the power is out and i'm very grateful for her
First book on Buddhism and first book of 2018. Such a good start. Reading these teachings and meditating on them is better than all the money getting paid on the new age-y meditation apps. In depth ideas and an amazing introduction to Buddhism. Will certainly reread and buy it in paperback to keep it at hand.
Mar 31, 2019 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Pema, anyone familiar with Mahayana Buddhism
Comfortable with Uncertainty is an anthology, broken up into 108 (an auspicious number in almost all Indian spiritual traditions) one-page snippets summarizing important subjects drawn from the author's previous books. This is not dry, academic dharma – while based on and completely congruent with ancient Tibetan Buddhist teachings, these pages comprise the kind of warm, personable, accessible advice for everyday life that American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön is known for. While some of the 108 to ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A multifaceted jewel and game-changer.

When I was in DC this summer my friend Stephen gave me this book. I wasn’t even able to glance at it until we got back to Negril, but I loved the title. I recall checking out When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron years ago, but at that time I wasn’t ready to dwell deeply on these ideas.

I read this book slowly, a couple of pages a day. It consists of 108 short chapters excerpted from Pema’s previous books. This is all about how to live our lives better on a
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from a friend of mine right before moving from Seattle to LA to start a new job. And, I should note that I had recently started doing more thinking about my thinking and how it related to my actions and responses to others, having just co-taught a course (with the friend who game me the book) on ethical philosophy to high school students. So, this was an interesting book and has some great lessons about the transformative power of love and compassion, both for others and our ...more
Judy Phin
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In order to fully understand and take in all that was discussed, I had to go over this book twice... not out of a lack of understanding or difficulty but simply due to the desire of having those words, teachings and stories wrap around my soul and permanently find a place in which they can reside. A beautiful mix of Eastern Philosophy merged with western ideas and examples makes it such an easy and beautiful book to digest.

With each story that is told, it is crucial to pause and allow the words
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't feel like I can write useful reviews for people (and even for myself looking back on them) about Pema Chödrön's books. Simply, she speaks to me. The way she talks about things are accessible and make sense to my brain. I've yet to encounter one of her books that's bad.

This one is unique in that it is made up of 108 small chapters -- 1-2 pages each, is that even considered a chapter? -- from her other books. This is neither a substitute nor a summary of them, but it really feels like a wh
Carolyn Swaisland
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I started this book over 18 months ago - it has travelled with me around Australia, New Zealand, the UK and South Africa. I have referred to it for wisdom in times of uncertainty and it has not disappointed. To me it wasn’t something to read start to finish in one go, but rather something to savour in times of need. Sometimes all you need is 2 short pages of wise words which speak to your heart. There are 108 of those in here.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nice source for daily meditative reflection
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I wasn't able to read this straight through though I tried. I feel that this will be a good book for me to use when I need it- -like medicine haha.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I love Pema, but I found this collection of short essays disjointed.
Frank Jude
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every student of Yoga/Dharma.
This is a great, little book: 108 pithy teachings and instructions forming an integrated course of practice of vipassana, lojong, the four brahma-viharas, tonglen and the bodhisattva paramitas. The first year it came out, I read it through, one teaching a day for 108 days, reflecting on the teachings and following the practices. Then, I began again and did it two more times as an almost year-long practice. Since then, I've encouraged several of my students to take up that practice and they have ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
In this book Buddhist nun Pema Chodron explains basic ideas of Buddhism, such as being alive in the present moment, staying open to suffering and strong emotions instead of shutting down, and learning to relax in the middle of chaos. She emphasizes honesty, gentleness, curiosity, interconnectedness, and being compassionate towards ourselves and others. These concepts are an antidote to the stereotypical American strategies of denying and repressing feelings, focusing on the future, using technol ...more
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the third or fourth book by Pema Chodron that I've read in the past five-or-so years. I'd be hard pressed to differentiate among them. That's not a negative comment, though. In every book, Pema's basically telling the same story: she's sharing the messages of the Buddha on how to alleviate dukkha (suffering, dissastisfaction) and live more sanely. Like any good teacher, she makes her points in various ways so that we're more likely to get the message: maybe understand more clearly, catch ...more
Stephanie Barko
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a daily devotional
Recommended to Stephanie by: Janet Conner
Pema Chodron was already one of my favorite authors and teachers before bestselling journaling coach/author Janet Conner recommended this title to my Book Group. I liked that Pema's book was 108 short entries that could be read at the start of each day. The glossary helped me understand Buddhist terminology better.

Some of Chodron's passages are so well crafted that they could be epitaphs and signature quotes.

Chodron is one of the great teachers of contemporary times.
She is that wounded warrior w
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this book. This is an example of a passage from the book that I found conveys the basic message of the book:

"The central question is not how to avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort. How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day? For those of us with a hunger to know the truth, painful emotions are like flags going up to say "You're stuck!" We regard disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, jea
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Pema Chodron through a link on facebook by Marty Howes (thanks, Marty!!!). I have been reading about Buddhism for awhile now because I don't believe in conventional religion. Buddhism is about peace, love, and co-existing (I know, I sound like a 60's hippie). It's helping me embrace Tonglen -- taking in sufffering and sending forth compassion. Working with the Wounded Warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan allowed me to employ this practice daily. A great read especially if you're stru ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A compilation of 108 short lessons. This book has made it's way from my bookshelf to my bedside table numerous times over the years. Each time I read it, I find new meaning. Basic Tibetan Buddhist concepts, presented in layman’s terms, applicable to anyone’s life - regardless of what your belief system is. This is a beautiful little book which I will never really be finished with. I am not sure if there is anything more important than becoming comfortable with uncertainty. It is thought provokin ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
The goal isn't really to become comfortable with uncertainty but rather to embrace the fear . . . the discomfort and relax in the moment of "uncomfortableness". As the summer of reflect comes to an end my goal is to embrace the fear and discomfort-- to relax in the moment. I'm on the path each moment each day. I'm me again.
Jeff Cannon
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
A wonderful bedside book. It's not necessarily an eye opener, but it is a wonderful way to remind yourself of some of Pema's thoughts and lessons. Each is just a page or two. Easy to read and soul stirring.

Thank you for yet another reminder on living a life in balance.
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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

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