|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsLinksBook Reviews|10 Minute Solution: Butt Lift10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training101 Ways to Meditate29 Gifts3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band7 Weeks to 100 Push-Ups8 Keys to Body Brain BalanceA.M. EnergyAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAlmost MeatlessAM/PM YogaAnswers for AristotleAnywhere, Anytime, Any Body YogaAthlete's Guide to YogaAuthentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBalanced AssetsBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBetter Sex Through YogaBody By BethennyBreath-Centered YogaBreathingBuddhist Boot CampCalm Body Clear MindCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyChoosing CivilityClassical Pilates Technique DVDComplementary and Alternative Therapies ResearchCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCreative Writing In Health And Social CareDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Andrew Weil's Mindbody ToolkitEastern Body, Western MindEasy YogaElement: Barre ConditioningElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotions, Stress, and HealthEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEverything VeganExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptFamily YogaFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFully PresentGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGood MedicineHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealthy AgingHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy How to Cook Everything VegetarianI'd Rather LaughIn Defense of FoodInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntegrated YogaIntegrative MedicineIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Qi YogaIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Up to YouJanis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKnowing the Nature of FearKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLife MakeoversLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Living BeautifullyLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It Fast, Cook It SlowManage Your Depression Through ExerciseMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMean GenesMeditation in a New York MinuteMindful AngerMindfulnessMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness-Based Treatment Approaches: Clinician's Guide to Evidence Base and ApplicationsMisadventures of a Garden State YogiMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesPassionate VegetarianPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPilates AnatomyPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPositivityPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPrenatal FlowPrescriptive StretchingPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPsychology Moment by MomentPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQiGong IllustratedQuick Blast MethodReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDSaving NormalSelf-CompassionSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoupsSparkSpontaneous HappinessSports Hypnosis in PracticeStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStress ReliefStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSuper Natural CookingSuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift SupersurvivorsSurf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2Tai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTaming Your Inner BratTeach Yourself MeditationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTen Minutes to RelaxThe Accidental VeganThe Angelica Home KitchenThe Art and Science of MindfulnessThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Best Things You Can EatThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breathing FieldThe Cafe Brenda CookbookThe Complete Book of Raw FoodThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Easy Yoga WorkbookThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Happiness of PursuitThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Healing Remedies SourcebookThe Health Psychology HandbookThe Healthy KitchenThe Heart of YogaThe Indian VegetarianThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Kettlebell BoomerThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Soy BookThe Little Yoga BookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Freedom and the Way of MeditationThe Perfect ExerciseThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Playful BrainThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Way of StretchingThe Weight of the NationThe Will to Live and Other MysteriesThe Yin Yoga KitThink SmartTotal AstangaTotal Health the Chinese WayTotal PilatesTotal-Body ToningTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTransformative YogaTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaV-Core WorkoutVegan ExpressVegan for LifeVegetarian Turkish CookingViva Vegan!Walk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWalkingWalking a Literary LabyrinthWatch Me Do YogaWeight Loss Cardio KickWellbeingWhat We Say MattersWhen Things Fall ApartWriting in FlowYin and Yang YogaYin Yoga DVDYogaYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga AnatomyYoga and PsychologyYoga as MedicineYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Flow DVDYoga for AnxietyYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular GuysYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga In BedYoga in BedYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SanctuaryYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga to the Rescue for Pain-Free Back, Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogabodyYogawomanYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVDYour Brain on FoodYour Miracle BrainZen Encounters with Loneliness
by Pema Chödrön
Sounds True, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jan 30th 2002
I've listened to this audio double-CD of Prema Chödrön
several times and I would recommend it to those looking to an
introduction to tonglen, a system of meditation to help
one deal with life's troubles, derived from the practices of Tibetan
Zen Buddhism. I can't say that I have used it much to help my
own peace of mind, but occasionally the method has occurred to
me and I've found it interesting. Whether it is useful is of course
very hard to say - I doubt that any scientific studies have been
attempted trying to prove that it helps people cope when experiencing
emotional turmoil. But on the other hand, it is unlikely to have
any unwanted side effects, and many people vouch for its importance,
so it may be worth trying it out.
Chödrön talks very slowly, and listening to her can
be relaxing, unless one feels extremely impatient, in which case
one might become exasperated by the pauses from one word to another.
She explains any terminology she uses, and she illustrates her
ideas with straightforward examples. She starts off talking about
being an unconditional friend to oneself as the basis of compassion
and happiness. The problem is that pain is an inevitable part
of life, and she explains that it is important not to struggle
against pain, but instead one should be comfortable with both
pleasure and pain. One should not make the mistake of mistaking
pleasure for happiness; pleasure is always fleeting and unreliable.
Instead, one should accept one's pain and discomfort with oneself,
and should even move closer to the painful feelings. The discomfort
is made far worse by one's struggle to not be as one thinks one
should, because then one feels shame at oneself. This does not
mean that one should not care about the bad sides of oneself,
but it means recognizing oneself for what one is and being compassionate
Of course, it is incredibly hard to accept oneself as one is;
we are always full of self-criticism. So it is hard to meditate
and to be with oneself; seeing oneself for what one is can be
upsetting. Chödrön links this with breathing meditation,
focusing on one's present feelings and not drifting off into other
thoughts. With practice, it becomes easier to accept oneself,
and one's anger with oneself diminishes. Similarly, if one can
experience jealously, depression, loneliness without condemning
oneself, then one can learn to accept oneself more fully. This
practice awakens an understanding of our shared humanity, and
then one feels less need to avoid the feelings by doing something
else such as drinking, taking drugs, or other self-destructive
Opening one's heart will also mean one can see the discomfort
of others without needing to avoid it. Furthermore, one can experience
one's own pleasure without a sense of regret that it is temporary.
Chödrön says that compassion heals us and makes people
more relaxed and open.
The obvious danger in such an approach is that it can be used
as an excuse for not trying to improve the world. Chödrön
says little to address this danger directly, but she does not
convey the sense that it is fine to be self-satisfied or uncaring
about other people's suffering - indeed, it seems likely that
if one becomes more compassionate through the practice of tonglen
then one will do more to help other people.
The attraction of tonglen is that it is a way of dealing with
mental strife. Rather than trying to subdue our powerful emotions,
it suggests that we should allow oneself to experience them; indeed,
she says that negative emotions can be good in that they provide
a transformative energy. "The more neurosis, the more wisdom,"
she says, and so there can be some aspect of difficult circumstances
that one can welcome. She also says that tonglen is being used
more and more in hospices and with people who have terminal illnesses.
People start to feel that their pain, fear or despair has a meaning
and they can better cope with it. Many people become more kind
and regain a sense of humor once they start this kind of meditation,
according to Chödrön.
Chödrön recommends tonglen practice not just when one
is in a special meditation session, but also in the middle of
the day and one sees pain or suffering. Our reaction is to avert
our eyes or guilt that we cannot do something to help others.
She says that one thing we can do is practicing tonglen on the
spot. Similarly one can practice tonglen in the middle of a furious
argument with another person. This meditation is not a matter
of leaving the situation and sitting cross-legged on the floor,
but rather it is letting oneself experience one's negative feelings
more, examining them without being judgmental. One allows oneself
to experience the feelings and tells oneself that other people
have the same feelings. Speaking for myself, I at least find this
idea very intriguing, even if I am not sure that it will be very
useful to me. It is at least plausible that doing this prevents
a chain reaction in one's feelings that leads to an escalating
series of unpleasant emotions.
There is a more formal process of tonglen that Chödrön
explains as well, guiding her listeners through a meditation session.
Presumably those wanting to know more will need to seek further
training beyond this CD; there are many books and videos available
on tonglen practice. There is, furthermore, an overlap between
the practices of tonglen and various self-help methods for reducing
stress and dealing with anger and depression, and it would probably
take a great deal more study to really understand the world view
behind these practices. But this CD is a good start, and even
though I am not inclined to investigate tonglen any further in
the immediate future, I felt that I gained something from listening
to Chödrön's teaching.
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review.
His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can
play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster
communication between philosophers, mental health professionals,
and the general public.