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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Pema Chödrön: How to Meditate

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The principle of nowness is very important to any effort to establish an enlightened society. You may wonder what the best approach is to helping society and how you can know that what you are doing is authentic and good. The only answer is nowness. The way to relax, or rest the mind in nowness, is through the practice of meditation. In meditation you take an unbiased approach. You let things be as they are, without judgment, and in that way you yourself learn to be.
—CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE

The mind is very wild. The human experience is full of unpredictability and paradox, joys and sorrows, successes and failures. We can’t escape any of these experiences in the vast terrain of our existence. It is part of what makes life grand—and it is also why our minds take us on such a crazy ride. If we can train ourselves through medita­tion to be more open and more accepting toward the wild arc of our experience, if we can lean into the difficulties of life and the ride of our minds, we can become more settled and relaxed amid whatever life brings us.

There are numerous ways to work with the mind. One of the most effective ways is through the tool of sitting meditation. Sitting meditation opens us to each and every moment of our life. Each moment is totally unique and unknown. Our mental world is seemingly predictable and graspable. We believe that thinking through all the events and to-dos of our life will pro­vide us with ground and security. But it’s all a fantasy, and this very moment, free of conceptual overlay, is completely unique. It is absolutely unknown. We’ve never experienced this very moment before, and the next moment will not be the same as the one we are in now. Meditation teaches us how to relate to life directly, so that we can truly experience the present moment, free from conceptual overlay.

If we look at the dharma—in other words, the teachings of the Buddha, the truth of what is—we see that through the prac­tice of meditation the intention is to remove suffering. Maybe that’s why so many people are attracted to meditation, because generally people don’t find themselves sitting in the meditation posture unless they have something that’s bothering them. But the Buddhist teachings are not only about removing the symp­toms of suffering, they’re about actually removing the cause, or the root, of suffering. The Buddha said, “I teach only one thing: suffering and the cessation of suffering.”

In this book, I want to emphasize that the root of suffering is mind—our minds. And also, the root of happiness is our mind.


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