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When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advise for Difficult Times Book Review

Author: Pema Chodron

Book Review by: Gretchen Lohmann

The biggest message for me in this book is that we must continually extend our awareness to all that is and take it in without judgement. When we are able to accept what is about ourself and others we become closer to the truth and authenticity that lives in all of us. It was a good reminder to me that if we truly want to live authentic to our self, we must look behind the dark curtains and dusty places where we may tend to hide what we do not want to acknowledge. The process to learn, understand, and accept takes much practice which Pema recommends is done through meditation. While I do not practice meditation every day, I accept and agree that being true to who we are is a daily practice and something that must be done our whole lives. Life coaching can support this process and give people tools to continue their practice in a way that is authentic to them.

In Pema’s chapter titled Six Kinds of Loneliness she writes, “The process of becoming unstuck requires tremendous bravery, because basically we are completely changing our way of perceiving reality, like changing our DNA. We are undoing a pattern that is not just our pattern. It’s the human pattern: we project on to the world a zillion possibilities of attaining resolution. This pattern keeps us dissatisfied and causes us a lot of suffering.” When clients come to us for coaching, many times they are stuck and are looking to change patterns in their life. It is a good reminder for everyone to acknowledge how difficult and courageous this process is. When people come to coach, they are being tremendously brave. We must be equally as brave to walk alongside our clients and support them on this journey.

Another meaningful passage is in chapter 11, “Whether we experience what happens to us as obstacle and enemy or as teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.” This is so layered because as we seek awareness into our whole authentic self and become at peace with what is, we can take on new perceptions of our situation. Part of taking on new perceptions, however, will shed more light and awareness into our true self and inform the relationship we have with ourself. This is transformational work that can be done in coaching. To dig into our relationship with ourself and others and to look through different lenses. The CWB during the start of each coaching session consistently does this for clients. What lens of perception do they want to look through during the coaching session?

This book has so many great nuggets of truth but one last passage I highlighted in my reading in Chapter 13 was, “If we begin to get in touch with whatever we feel with some kind of kindness, our protective shells will melt, and we’ll find that more areas of our lives are workable. As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others – what and whom we can work with, and how – becomes wider.” This is so powerful! To be able to access and open up more of us in order to impact our daily life and the lives of those around us. And to think that in working with a coach this is available and that everything needed for this work is already inside everyone.

I will reference this book both personally and in my coaching with clients. Personally, I strive to continue to do the work of awareness of self and to challenge myself to be open to all that I am. With coaching this book is a good reminder of the journey clients go through. It can also help create new questions to ask clients such as:

1. What are you becoming more aware of in yourself?

2. How does opening up to all of who you are impact how you show up?

3. What is important about what you are learning about yourself?

4. What areas of you are you not ready to unpack right now?

5. What has surprised you about who you are becoming?

6. What would the you five years from now tell the you right now?

7. What changes are needed to allow the full you to show up in the world?

8. What will you gain? What will you need to release?

9. How will it feel when you embrace all that you are?

10. When do you feel most authentically you?

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