Ani Pema Chdrn was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren. While in her mid-thirties, Ani Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to Scotland at that time, and Ani Pema received her ordination from him. Pema first met her root guru, Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.
Ani Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave her explicit instructions on establishing this monastery for western monks and nuns. Ani Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is also a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the oldest son and lineage holder of Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Ani Pema is interested in helping establish Tibetan Buddhist monasticism in the West, as well as continuing her work with western Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings. Her non-profit, The Pema Chdrn Foundation, was set up to assist in this purpose.
She has written several books: 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, How to Meditate, and Living Beautifully.