Initial reaction: I thought this open approach to mindfulness and meditation was worth the read, but probably a bit redundant if you’ve read other works in Chodron’s bibliography covering the same topic. Still, I appreciated her words and approach in one volume.
I’ll start this review by saying that I’ve always appreciated reading Pema Chödrön’s inspiring expansions on approaching life and meditation practices. I’ve read a number of her narratives in the past, so it was with little wonder that I picked up this particular work and found it immersive and a meditation in and of itself. Had me thinking on so many things, but also learning from it in a sphere that’s both similar and separate from my own in ideology. Her articulations are sound, and it’s easy for someone who may not necessarily be familiar with these Buddhist vows to be understand what they entail and how to put them into practice for inspiration. They’re simple messages, but are far more profound in the measure of interpreting and integrating what they mean in one’s day-to-day life and understanding the world around them.
The long and short of the aim of this narrative is describing three rules to approaching uncertainty and change (staying grounded) in the present world.
1. Committing to not cause harm
2. Committing to take care of one another
3. Committing to embrace the world as it is
The outline of these three measures compose the bulk of the book, and Chödrön uses each section to articulate what each of these mean in different facets, both in her personal experience as well as applications and expansions beyond. It’s a constructive imaging in some measures, and others instructive. I did somewhat read it through a filter as not all of the measures apply to my respective life or ideology, but I learned quite a bit on the part of Buddhist ideals and expansions reading this book and how these three approaches come into place. It is a book that emphasizes becoming more self-aware and realizations made in that spectrum, which is something that I respected.
As far as a meditation measure is concerned, I think there are other narratives of hers that are a little more oriented towards that spectrum, so this wouldn’t be my recommendation for an introduction in that scope, but it’s still worth reading for the expansion on these ideals in themselves, to get people thinking on the matters presented. I’d say it’s more of a supplement to Chödrön’s other narratives, and notably powerful in its own way.
Overall score: 3/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, form the publisher Shambhala.