“If you’re invested in security and certainty,
you are on the wrong planet.” 
– Pema Chödrön


The Complex Emotion of Shame – Ian Challis

Mar 5, 2023

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How do we make space for natural human emotions, including those we avoid such as shame? Can we not be afraid of them, and hold our experience with more acceptance and compassion?

Shame has a very visceral component that hijacks our emotions, much like encountering a dangerous animal.

In this rich talk, Ian explores the various aspects of shame that cross our minds and how we can examine these despite the pain they invoke. We are conditioned to feel shame based on societal norms, even if we don’t share them, which is why it is particularly prevalent among non-conforming individuals such as LGBTQ persons. He discusses how we can avoid internalizing these feelings and not feel isolated as a result.

He makes the distinction between remorse or ethical responsibility, which connect us to the world, and shame which isolates us. Shame withdraws us into our own emotional pain, whereas remorse centers on the pain we have caused others and opens us to reconciliation.


Ian Challis is a student and teacher in the Insight Tradition of Buddhism. He is a teacher, founding member, and past guiding teacher of Insight Community of the Desert in Palm Springs.

Ayya Khema, Leigh Brasington, Narayan Liebenson, Larry Yang, and Arinna Weisman are key teachers who have inspired and illuminated his practice.

Serving Queer community is a passion. 2023 marks his co-teaching of the 7th annual Queer retreat at Dhamma Dena Retreat Center with Leslie Booker.

Ian teaches regular drop-in classes as well as retreats. He is a qualified teacher of MBSR, a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader teacher training, and was formally invited by Arinna Weisman to teach in the lineage of U Ba Khin and Ruth Denison.