'Start Where You Are' By Pema Chodron

'Start where you are' shows you how to live and be at peace with everything, no matter whether there is a good or bad situation, and no matter where you are in life.

Pema Chodron explains that you can start now; you can start where you are. You can work with what comes along, rather than fight against it.

The subtitle of this book is "How to accept yourself and others": only when we confront our own fears and we open to ourselves are we really able to be there and be open to others.

This book is based on Buddhist teachings, and it poses a gentle approach to dealing with life.

Lighten up

The core message of this book is that we can lighten up; "there's no big deal":

"With our minds we make a big deal out of ourselves, out of our pain, and out of our problems."

We can then look at ourselves and others compassionately, as there's no use in being harsh with ourselves.

Meditation techniques

'Start where you are' also includes a few meditation techniques, like the lojong practice and the shamatha-vipashyana meditation.

One of the techniques explained is tonglen, which is also mentioned in The Dalai Lama's book 'The art of happiness'. This practice consists on breathing in a painful situation, yours or someone else's, and breathing it out with peace.


This book gets its message across with slogans. These are short sentences, in the format of almost a command, to meditate on and apply. These are some of the slogans that we can find in 'Start where you are':

  • Victory to others

  • "Drive all blames into one", or "Take the blame yourself"

  • Be grateful to everyone

  • All activities should be done with one intention

  • Always maintain only a joyful mind

Dealing with negative situations

'Start where you are' offers a logical approach to dealing with negative situations. Pema Chodron suggests that we react in a different way than we would usually do; so the slogan "Don't be so predictable".

In this way, this book promotes patience and nonaggression.

The tool to be free

Pema Chodron suggests that we can see our thoughts as empty and powerless in order to be free:

"Each time you're willing to see your thoughts as empty, let them go, and come back to your breath, you're sowing seeds of wakefulness, seeds of being able to see the nature of mind, and seeds of being able to rest in unconditional space."

Going beyond, one chapter of this book deals with how we feel when we know what techniques to use to achieve peace, and how and when to use them, yet we don't use them.

The author tackles the issue of our looking at ourselves as hopeless or without discipline.

All in all, 'Start where you are' is an interesting book that offers a different approach to life: rather than going for pure positive thinking, we're better off confronting the negative situations directly, with the knowledge that whatever is happening is not a big deal.

Follow this link to purchase 'Start where you are' in Amazon.

"When you notice you're making a really big deal, just notice that with a lot of gentleness, a lot of heart. No big deal."

Pema Chodron

P.S. I have partnered with Amazon to earn a percentage for purchases made via my recommendation. Please use the links on this page to get your book, because this helps me keep this website up-and-running and the price is still the same for you. I thank you for your support should you decide to use my link. Every little helps! ;-) 

Important: the fact that I've partnered with Amazon doesn't affect the review above. This review is simply my views of the book, and I write it in order to help you make a more informed choice.

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