While I do not adhere or belong to any organized religion as I consider myself more spiritual than anything else although I could do more meditation, there is something to be said for adapting any religion’s tenets if it resonates with you. The reason I know about this American Tibetan Buddhist, Pema Chödrön, is due to a friend of mine who reads her books and shared them with me while I lived in Los Angeles. I also know about her teacher, Chögyam Trungpa, a Tibetan meditation master due to another friend who gave me one of his books while I was in high school. While I have yet to finish his book, (one of those read it and put it down when I should’ve kept going), I’ve read enough of it to know it has good advice to live a healthier and less stressful personal life. With that being said, I realize not everything needs to be taken as a universal truth, even by those who are viewed as experts and masters of their discipline. How are they related? Pema Chödrön was taught by Chögyam Trungpa. If you look up Chögyam Trungpa, he has some controversy in his life, mainly being his sexual relationships with female students and his drinking problem which left his paralyzed at an early age. He died in 1987 at the age of 49 by heart attack and liver cirrhosis. His wife pointed to his diabetes and high blood pressure affecting his early death as well. For what it is worth, Naropa University that he founded in 1974 still enrolls students in Boulder, Colorado. He was definitely far from perfect, but his Shambhala vision remains to this day.
Pema Chödrön has written many books about Buddhist meditation and living. Comfortable with Uncertainty is a good book for someone who doesn’t want to read a 250+ page book about Buddhist principles. The editor, Emily Hilburn Sell, says it succinctly. “The teachings selected here give a glimpse of the mahayana vision, a taste of the meditation practices it offers, and hints on carrying the vision and meditation into everyday life.” As I like to say, finding the calm within you when your and everyone else’s shit is flying all around you like a tornado. In my 20s I thought life would get easier as I grew older, but now I see in some ways it has but in other ways it’s still the same dance to the same song. There’s truth in accepting your negativity, whatever ways they manifest, and then letting them pass. I would also say for me it’s being aware of life’s practicality as well as its unexpectedness. It’s living in that in between, a little lost, but still creating a path to walk comfortably. It’s incorporating all the different parts of your life and having each one as balanced as the next. It’s about crossing the line into negativity and how it isn’t as important when it took you less time to bounce back than the last time in not being negative. It’s about being aware of what no longer works for you and the willingness to give it up because you only live once (at least in your current body). You might as well enjoy what you have while you still can.