Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual Patterns and Encountering Naked Reality

In the Buddhist tradition, there is the belief that peace and happiness can be achieved when people learn to ignore their urge to scratch. More of these Buddhist beliefs are discussed by Pema Chodron in her audiobook, Getting Unstuck. The audiobook contains information which was passed down to Chodron by her teacher, Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche.

In her book, Chodron focuses on pre-emotional feeling that boils within people and eventually causes discomfort. This condition, in turn, force humans to react in order to escape their situation, which they usually do by succumbing to undesirable habits.

The concept of itch-and-scratch, the shenpa, is also deeply discussed in the book. As narrated by Chondron, people will learn how to recognize shenpa and welcome it into their lives instead of running away from it. Chondron also reiterates some important points:

  • CRITICAL MIND or being able to identify shenpa and be kind towards one’s self and other people

  • Learning methods of revealing self-denigration and developing maitri or loving kindness for one’s self

  • Learning to accept one’s irritability, securities, and other human traits

  • Learning about the 4 R’s of working with shenpa: recognition, refrain, relaxing, and resolve

People are always prone to urges, and succumbing with such temptation only becomes stronger everytime that people give in. And people should learn how to embrace their cravings and habits. On the other hand, Chondron provides guidance on how people should explore the moments when they get hooked with their urges and the necessary tools for people to be more comfortable with themselves.


Ani Pema Chodron was born in New York City in 1974 and went to Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and University of California at Berkeley. She previous worked as school teacher in New Mexico and California.

When she went to the French Alps, Chodron met Lama Chime Rinpoche. Under Rinpoche’s mentoring, Chodron decided to become a nun in 1974 and was ordinated by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.

Afterward, Chodron worked as director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado then director of Gampo Abbey.

At present, Chodon serves as teacher in the US and Canada and aims at expanding Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West.


A number of listeners think that Chodron is an effective teacher and her teachers provided them with comfort while they were going through difficult times. With her audiobook, some people realized that the brain was very capable of distorting reality, and this distortion causes people their suffering. Chodron also emphasizes that people should avoid having negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and anger.

Aside from her soothing voice and insight, people will come to love Chodron’s sense of humor. She also introduces several Tibetan words and concepts and explains them in manners that most people can relate to. Moreover, people will find her real-life examples very helpful as they proceed on listening to the book. Chodron recognizes the fact that meditating is not that easy but she provides listeners guidance on easing such burden.


Some people did not approve of Chodron’s discussion of problems, and others thought that her solutions are unclear and were not very helpful. Other listeners also noted some unnecessary sounds picked up by Chodron’s microphone while recording. Meanwhile, some people think that the audiobook did not provide adequate information on the practice of meditation.