Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears by Pema Chödrön
(Shambhala, 2012, 128 pages)
In Taking the Leap, Chödrön explains the Buddhist concept of shenpa, that tightening feeling you get when you, for example, start to feel angry or feel tempted by an addiction. She uses the analogy of having an itch. The urge to itch is the shenpa, and when you scratch it (i.e., give in to the addiction), you experience temporary relief, but you ultimately develop a painful sore. The Buddhist fix to this is meditation. When you feel the shenpa coming on, you should pause, take three deep breaths, and be present with the uncomfortable feelings. When you first start to practice this, you may still act on the anger, give in to the addiction, etc., but as time goes on, it should become easier to resist these things and move on. The author recommends to start using it in everyday life with the small things (e.g., road rage), and as you learn how it feels to experience and move past the feelings, to use it on the bigger struggles in your life. This was a quick, easy read. You don’t need knowledge of Buddhism for it to make sense. The analogies she uses are very helpful in understanding the material.