cover image Practicing Peace

Practicing Peace

Pema Chödrön. Shambhala, $12.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-611806-137

Drawing from her talks and focusing on the contemporary world, Chödrön (The Places That Scare You) offers teachings on practicing peace in this short, insightful book. When the heart closes itself off and the mind becomes rigid, she writes, it is easy to justify hatred against others. Instead, Chödrön tells readers to cultivate the courage to have a change of heart: do not harden the self, sit with the uneasiness and feeling of threat, and stay in that tenderness. The condensed instruction Chödrön provides is to “stay with the initial tightening and don’t spin off.” By turning to the practices of patience, sitting meditation, and bodhichitta (the impulse toward enlightenment and nonself), among others, she believes it is possible to recognize shenpa (the experience of being hooked) early and to refrain from escalating into anger. She writes that sitting in patience with fundamental fear and insecurity allows fearlessness and genuine curiosity to grow. Chödrön teaches readers how to pause and let experiences pierce the heart so that the sparks of aggression may burn themselves out, leaving a positive sense of groundlessness and insecurity. These are familiar teachings to those acquainted with her work, but her approach remains invaluable for guidance on working with hatred and anger. [em](Aug.) [/em]