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Practices for Difficult Times

In this sampling of writings from the pages of the Shambhala Sun, you'll find practical and profound Buddhist guidance for transforming difficulties into opportunities to live a more awakened life.

Featured contributors include Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal, Cyndi Lee, Darlene Cohen, Ezra Bayda and more.

Just click any article's title to start reading.

Meditation for Difficult Times

Pema Chödrön on four ways that meditation helps us deal with difficulty.

What Matters Most

When Elizabeth Hamilton is diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her husband Ezra Bayda learn the real value of life, love, and holding our attachments lightly. Here, both Zen teachers recount their experiences of Hamilton’s illness and recovery.

How to Live a Genuine Life

We'll always be conditioned beings living in a conditioned world. But, says Ezra Bayda, we can learn to see the clouds of conditioning as just clouds in the context of the sky. To do this we need the precision of practice.

Stay With the Soft Spot

Pema Chödrön on how to awaken bodhichitta—enlightened heart and mind—the essence of all Buddhist practice.

Developing the Mind of Great Capacity

A teaching on practices to generate bodhichitta by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Practice of Looking Deeply Using Three Dharma Seals: Impermanence, No Self and Nirvana

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that by looking deeply we develop insight into impermanence and no self. These are the keys to the door of reality.

Everyday Life is the Practice

Geshe Tenzin Wangyal tells us how to turn our daily challenges into meditation practice.

The Hidden Treasure of the Heart

The key to the treasure of unconditional compassion, says Aura Glaser, is the three-step practice of equanimity.

Finding Joy Amid the Pain

Even while we suffer, says Darlene Cohen, we can experience joy in life by opening up fully to our experience, not closing down. Drawing on her training as a Zen teacher and her own long experience with chronic pain, she offers an awareness approach to living well with suffering.

Suffering: The Journey Starts Here

Traleg Rinpoche, Glenn Wallis, and Phillip Moffitt explain why anxiety and dissatisfaction are the means by which we can truly begin the practice of inner transformation.

Training the Mind to Transform Adversity into Awakening

Buddhism’s mind-training slogans help us work with all the challenges of life, from the upheavals of our own emotions to the inevitable losses and disappointments of this imperfect world. Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche explains how obstacles can be brought to the spiritual path and become opportunities for awakening.

Turn Your Thinking Upside Down

We base our lives on seeking happiness and avoiding suffering, but the best thing we can do for ourselves—and for the planet—is to turn this whole way of thinking upside down. Pema Chödrön shows us Buddhism’s radical side.

Pema Chödrön's Three Methods of Working with Chaos

Times of chaos and challenge can be the most spiritually powerful . . . if we are brave enough to rest in their space of uncertainty. Pema Chödrön describes three ways to use our problems as the path to awakening and joy. 

Heart Opening

"Your shoulders, arms, neck and ribs can," says Cyndi Lee, "either be a restrictive cage for your heart or an undulating, comforting protector."

The Four Healing Powers of Mind

The key to health and happiness, says Tulku Thondup, is a mind that is peaceful and positive. This respected Buddhist teacher and author offers insights and meditations to help us access the natural healing power of mind.

Healing Light

A meditation instruction by Tulku Thondup

Good Medicine for This World

Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön and novelist Alice Walker on how tonglen meditation practice opens our heart, expands our vision, and plants the seeds of love in our lives.

Meeting Pain With Awareness

Does awareness suffer? Does it feel pain or sadness? According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction teaches us how to discover a mind of freedom and awareness even in the midst of stress and suffering. We can meet our pain with openness, strength, and clarity, and our relationship to it is transformed.

What To Do When the Going Gets Rough

Pema Chödrön on four ways to hold our minds steady and hearts open when facing difficult people or circumstances.

Lojong: How to Awaken Your Heart

Pema Chödrön's commentary on Atisha's famed mind-training slogans that use our difficulties and problems to awaken our hearts.


Wisdom for Difficult Times: A special section on

Here are some of the finest examples of Buddhist wisdom for difficult times, from the names you've come to trust — all from the pages of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma. Includes pieces by Pema Chödrön, Sylvia Boorstein, John Tarrant, Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, and more.


In the Face of Fear: Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Times

Edited by the Shambhala Sun's Barry Boyce and being released to coincide with the Urban Retreat, this new book features the greatest contemporary Buddhist teachers and writers—people renowned for addressing precisely the problems we’re facing today—including the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, Chögyam Trungpa, Sylvia Boorstein, Jack Kornfield, Norman Fischer, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Sharon Salzberg, and many others.

Click to order In the Face of Fear

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