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Photo: Robin Holland

Pema Chödrön

Buddhist nun

Ani Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun, author, and principal teacher of the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada, a Western Buddhist monastery in the Shambhala tradition. Through her teaching and writing she has helped make Buddhism accessible to a broad Western audience.

Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York, Chödrön was raised in a Catholic family in New Jersey. After earning a master’s in education from the University of California, Berkeley,  Chödrön learned about Tibetan Buddhism in 1972 while on a trip to the French Alps. Two years later, she began a 13-year tenure with the meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of the Shambhala school of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, and became one of his foremost students. She was ordained as a nun in 1974, at the age of 38.

In addition to her work at the Gampo Abbey, Ani Pema (Ani is the Tibetan honorific for nun) has served as director of the Karma Dzong Shambhala Center in Boulder, Colorado, and has authored many popular books on Buddhist practice including The Wisdom of No Escape, Start Where You Are, When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time to Lose, Practicing Peace in Times of War, and most recently, Taking the Leap-Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears.