Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tonglen = Accepting and Receiving

Today I am writing about the practice called Tonglen. This is a useful meditation practice for easing and accepting the suffering of our own or others and receiving love and compassion. When tragedy strikes there is never enough warning. All the preparation time cannot make us ready for many of the things we may face or witness in our lives. Having a useful tool like Tonglen available is like having a flashlight in the darkness of our minds, a light that transforms suffering into love and compassion. This light can liberate many from suffering as we practice and expand our connection to others. Here is how...
The word Tonglen literally means "giving and taking" in Tibetan. "Breathing in, we allow ourselves to feel the inevitable suffering that occurs in this life. Our heart's natural response to this suffering, while breathing out, is compassion. We breathe in the pain and suffering of this world like a dark cloud, letting it pass through our hearts. Rather than bracing ourselves against this pain and suffering, we can let it strengthen our sense of belonging and interdependence within the larger web of being." The Heart-Practice of Tonglen
At this time I'd like to offer simple instruction on Tonglen which can be used in any situation. Today I am specifically using the focal point of the natural and man-made occurrences in Japan.
1. Sitting comfortable, take a few deep cleansing breaths, in and out.

In = taking

Out = giving.

Practice with breathing in (taking) and out (giving). Feel your heart opening; invoke the presence of your Master teacher (Jesus, Buddha, etc). Now bring the images of the people who are suffering into your mind... breathe in.
2. With the images of the people and animals of Japan in your mind, breathe in their suffering, feel it pervade your body. With heaviness your breath is drawn inward, taking in all of their suffering as your own, allow the breath to pass through your heart of compassion and gently as you exhale, give your compassion, peace, and love freely and fully to the people and animals. Send thoughts that evoke feelings of healing and well-being.
3. Repeat step two - the time you spend doing Tonglen will benefit not only those you are giving to but will return to you as well. See if you don't feel better after a 10 minute session of Tonglen. In this way, Tonglen allows us to be present and available for ourselves and for others in the face of challenging life circumstances.
The amazing power of this practice can be felt instantly, try it today!

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