While I have not known Pema Chodron, Tibetan Buddhist Nun, to be a hand reader, she has certainly given some sage wisdom regarding the wiggly affects associated with the Life Line. In this article I will relate Pema’s teachings to what can be read and understood about the Line of Life in the human hand.

The Life Line

The Life Line is a major line carved on the inside of the hand around the ball of the thumb. The length, shape, and quality of the Life Line are associated with the state of the physical body, and with awareness of and attention to the material world.

One area of the hand we can investigate to recognize how we handle restlessness, angst and uncertainty in our lives is the Life Line.

This one line is read for personal vitality, stability and energy management, bodily strength and stamina, and relationship to the sense of safety. Someone with a long, clear, and deep Life Line is down to earth, with a compelling sense of security and stamina for living. Conversely, someone with a short or weak Life Line will feel constantly restless, a bit edgy, and will have a tendency to be busy.

To debunk the myth, once again, the Life Line does not tell how long someone will live. How do I know? I have two short Life Lines and have studied hundreds of Life Lines over the last 14 years.

In Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, author Pema Chodron opens the first chapter with the following:

“As human beings, we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground – something predictable, and safe to stand on – seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.”

What she says can be directly applied to lessons about the Life Line because she is tackling ‘scramble for certainty’, ‘flux’, ‘stress’, ‘trying to find solid ground’ and safety. The Life Line is one of the three major lines we all have in our hands. Therefore, we all grapple with these elements.

I have seen people who look incredibly calm and put-together with wildly scattered Life Lines indicating a frantic interior clamoring for tranquility. Upon conversation with the apparent serene individual, I quickly learned of their incredible skill to either conceal the frenzy or that they have sought out and implemented tools for survival – with success.

See examples, below, of Life Lines from Your Life Is In Your Hands; Practical Palm Reading for Purposeful Living, calling for help to find peace and harmony.

Scattered and reluctant to rest

Broken; screaming for my life at age 6

Broken; life as I knew it was over

It is uncommon to find a clear, unbroken, deeply etched Life Line curving entirely around the ball of the thumb. The owner of such a robust Life Line will typically live a steadied existence through athletics, family time, constructive productivity and routine time in nature.

Pema goes on to say,

“What a predicament! Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system, in which everything and everyone is a process.”

In other words, everything and everyone in our world is wiggling and wobbly – its constant and unalterable. The more we fight or ignore this fact, the more stress we encounter in our lives. Ways we battle or discount the ensuing and unwanted fluctuation is to work longer, play harder, exercise more, buy more, drink and eat more (or less), etc. Paradoxically, we do this aiming to create security and eventual relaxation in our lives. But do these grinding strategies really help us to settle down?

Pema continues,

“So, this is where we find ourselves: right in the middle of a dilemma. And it leaves us with some provocative questions: How can we live wholeheartedly in the face of impermanence, knowing that one day we’re going to die? What is it like to realize we can never completely and finally get it all together? Is it possible to increase our tolerance for stability and change? How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty – and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives?”

We did not need the Buddha to tell us; impermanence is an incontestable fact of life. But why do we deny it [impermanence] and seek to avoid it with life-depleting habits? In actuality, being alive is a miracle all by itself.

Pema beautifully articulated,

“We think that if only we did this, or didn’t do that, somehow, we could achieve a secure, dependable, controllable life. How disappointed we are when things don’t work out quite the way we planned.”

Worry permeates our culture. The events of the last two years have immensely contributed to the fear of illness, dying and loss. However, the ramifications of nervousness and fret has been addressed in many ancient and mystical teachings, including the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita. Anxiety and fear are frequently written about in these texts, thus indicating how human nature has been relentlessly faced by this beautiful monster named anxiety.

Pema’s first teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, spoke about the fundamental anxiety of being human.

“This anxiety or queasiness in the face of impermanence isn’t something that affects just a few of us; it’s an all-pervasive state that human beings share.”


Personally, I love tools, techniques and exercises to experience transformation. During rocky times, I give simple methods to my clients and students for on-the-spot implementation.

Thich Nhat Hanh instructs us to simply observe the breath.

Breathing in, imagining a violin wand (bow) gliding up over the strings.

Breathing out, wand moving back down over the strings.

Concentration throughout the breath initiates stillness. If you haven’t already, give it a try and see how it works for you.

To a child, I might suggest:

Imagine an elephant standing in a large pool of water.

Breathing in, elephant with its trunk filled with water slowly curling up over its back then spraying cool water over itself.

Breathing out, the trunk lowering back into the water, sucking more water into its trunk.

Breathing in, trunk curling up over to spray cool water over itself.


Photo: freepik

In her book Living Beautifully, Chodron offers proven instructions known in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for embracing the chaotic, unstable, and challenging nature of our lives as a path to awakening. You can check it out for more ideas. She teaches the warrior pathway which involves directly facing and using unwanted feelings as a means to freedom.

Practicing these lessons has led to more patience and presence in my life.

I write about my research and experiments because I know, first hand, how the beautiful monster named anxiety can wield its power. To you and your Life Line, I want to extend hope and encouragement to use that beautiful monster as a teacher for awakening your authentic self and live a life with grace and ease.

P.S. Upon interviews with each of the owners of the challenged Life Lines above, each found very specific tools to help them ‘settle a bit’. One takes her entire Sunday off from everything; no plans whatsoever. Another found yoga helpful, but it took her a few years of effort to get into the habit. The last one plays a particular sport on the weekend after working 14-hour days during the week.

What works for you?

What tools or techniques have you found effective in dealing with the unwanted, unexpected twists and turns in your life? Use the contact form to let me know. I would love to hear from you.