Best of the Archives: Holding it Together When Things Fall Apart | Pema Chödrön

Ten Percent Happier
February 15, 2021
Best of the Archives: Holding it Together When Things Fall Apart | Pema Chödrön
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

We’re now almost a full year into the era of Covid restrictions, and I suspect that many of you, as I am, are starting to internalize the fact that, notwithstanding the vaccines, there’s likely a ways to go yet. And the mental health issues are piling up: The depression, anxiety, and addiction. Moms, people of color, and elderly people who can’t see their families are getting hit especially hard. To inject a little sunshine, and perspective, and wisdom, we thought it might make sense to re-post one of our favorite conversations of the last year.

Pema Chödrön has seemingly been trying to prepare us for this pandemic for years, through a series of popular books, with titles such as When Things Fall Apart, Welcoming the Unwelcome, and The Wisdom of No Escape. But as you will hear, she is anything but gloomy. Like all of the great meditation teachers I’ve met, she has a lightness and a sense of humor about her.

She was born Deirdre Blomfield in Connecticut. She lived a conventional life, going to UC Berkeley, becoming a school teacher, and having a pair of kids. But after a rough divorce, she found herself adrift. During this time, she discovered Tibetan Buddhism, shaved her head, and became a nun. Now in her mid-eighties, she lives in rural Nova Scotia, where she is the director of Gampo Abbey.

We connected with her — back in May — on an old-school landline. I was recording my half of the conversation from a closet in our apartment in New York City, which at the time was the epicenter of the outbreak in America. We talked about how to actually welcome the unwelcome. We also discussed how to befriend your demons, sympathize without being stupid, lighten up in the face of fear, and embrace chaos as “extremely good news.”

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