The first person to introduce me to Pema Chodron was my self-appointed mentor in a small rural town in the high desert where I was apprenticing on a small farm. A raspy-voiced woman who had devoted her life to art and land stewardship and could stand precisely no nonsense, she handed me Practicing Peace in Times of War, and said, “Honey, I thought you could use this.”
Chodron is an American, Tibetan Buddhist with an impressive resume. Her teachings revolve around accepting the impermanence and insecurity inherent to human existence (which, if you ask me, sounds remarkably like the practice of small-scale organic farming). She offers practices to find compassion through suffering and approach the world with kindness.
This is good heart help for the changing tides and fortunes of springtime, as the farm season begins to open up and swallow us.
[Quick Buddhism cheat-sheet: Chodron references tonglen several times over the course of her teachings in this video. Tonglen is a meditation practice of breathing in the suffering that you have encountered– yours, an other’s, or of the world– and breathing out relief of that suffering. So, for an easy example, if you meet someone shivering from the cold, you would breath in the sensation of cold and breath out warmth.Though, probably, you’d also want to grab them a blanket.]