“We are constantly looking for ground beneath us, always looking for a permanent reference point, but it doesn’t exist. Everything is impermanent. We’re programmed for denial. Insecurity is the ego’s reaction to the shifting nature of reality.”
– Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap
Today’s book club chat is about this lovely read: Taking the Leap by Pema Chodron. Taking the Leap is about just this – taking the leap in the face of uncertainty. As a Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron teaches from the Buddhist perspective of non-attachment, mindful awareness, and radical acceptance.
A few book discussion questions! Join in by leaving a comment below.
1. She says, “The natural rhythm of life is not static. Life energy is not static. The source of our unease is the unfulfillable longing for a lasting certainty and security. Something solid to hold on to.” What do you think of this quote?
She is absolutely correct. We spend tons of energy keeping discomfort at bay. Numbing, avoidance, walking away, passivity, blaming, and flat out denial are all a means to avoid the lack of certainty or solidity in life. Life isn’t certain. Period. Life is ever-changing, ever-evolving. Static energy is a surrender to movement, a surrender to life! I encourage you to get comfortable with not always being comfortable. This post here shares a few ideas to get you started.
2. Pema offers two components of fear – Shenpa and Mara. Mara being fear itself and Shenpa the attachment to fear. How do these show up in your life?
It isn’t the thing we fear that is the cause of such worry in our life, it’s our attachment to the meaning we fear so much. Change the meaning and you melt the fear. As I wrote yesterday, fear is one of the three human illusions. It is a substitute for true acceptance or understanding of what you think you face. As Pema recommends, “Don’t overcome Shenpa. It’s an opportunity for transformation – an open doorway to awakening”, she writes. The secret to fulfillment even among fear is acceptance.
3. She suggests to create a training ground for dancing with fear in our daily lives. This is what I call ‘leaning into discomfort.’ What are your thoughts on actively turning toward the things that cause you fear and worry?
You won’t want to lean into discomfort when you’re already uncomfortable. I suggest leaning in when you feel secure. It gives you the courage to be vulnerable when there’s nothing to risk. It’s your training ground. For example, take a cold shower when you don’t need to and get uncomfortable being in a stream of cold water. Be mindful in traffic and choose to let go of the stress around you because you can’t go anywhere. If you really want to practice lean into difficult conversations. When you want to turn away, turn in.
My favorite part of the book is when she encourages the reader to take an interest in their pain. To move closer, lean in, get curious. Do anything to melt the resistance.
What did you think of this book? I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave me a comment below (note that these are public comments) or send me a private message by clicking ‘contact’ above.
In light and love and good books,
Next month we’ll study another aspect of fear, the upper limit, in this wonderful read, “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks.