Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun who is resident teacher at Gampo Abbey monastery in Nova Scotia and the author of many books including When Things Fall Apart, Comfortable With Uncertainty and The Places That Scare You. In this audio retreat, recorded live, her focus is on the spiritual practice of being present as it relates to the Tibetan concept of shenpa the attachments and addictions that are based on self-absorption and ego-clinging.
We don't have to go anywhere or seek to achieve enlightenment, she says. All we have to do is stay with the present moment or experience. Meditation helps us do that. By sitting regularly, we come face-to-face with our habit of distraction. We always want to be somewhere else, and all these mind trips usually have to do with comfort. "An urge comes up, we succumb to it, and it becomes stronger. We reinforce our cravings, habits and addictions by giving in to them repeatedly." One of the ways to handle this tendency, called shenpa, is to practice maitri (loving-kindness) toward ourselves. Another way is to practice acceptance of our own fears, insecurity, impatience, and irritability. Dzigar Kongtrul has taught Chodron the four R's of working with shenpa: recognizing, refraining, relaxing and resolving.
Addiction is rampant today as more and more people turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, and other means of shutting down in the face of pain, fear, and insecurity. Chodron presents a toolbox of practices that can be used to deal with "sticky feelings," when we desperately want to hold on to some habitual action or behavior that we have told ourselves will provide relief from our uneasiness. Listen closely to this three-and-one-half hour teaching on three CDs, and you will learn how to uncover your true nature and come to terms with the freedom that comes from getting unstuck.