Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tonglen is a Tibetan word for a "sending and receiving" practice. As a Buddhist layperson, I practice this often. However, you do not need to be a Buddhist to benefit from this most compassionate form of healing as it can be done by anyone.
What does it do? In my way of describing it, Tonglen is a visualization technique to receive the pain, hurt and suffering from others, as well as yourself, and to send out healing love, peace and happiness.
How do you do it? It can be done in full meditation style or anywhere, even in line at the grocery store. Visualize the person (eventually we want to visualize the world as a whole, but it's easier to start with yourself or another person). While breathing in, visualize dark black smoke - this is the pain and suffering. Turn this pain and suffering into healing love, peace and happiness while breathing out clean white smoke. Repeat this during your meditation period or for as long as you want. It actually makes you feel as though you are healing the other person, even though in reality we do not have that full power, yet. You, in return, receive healing from this practice.
Here's a quote from Pema Chodron's book "In Start Where You Are":
"When we encounter life situations that spontaneously evoke compassion, it is not necessary to go through all four stages. It's fine to begin with the third stage, the stage of breathing in the pain in the situation that confronts us and breathing out something that will help. It's fine to breathe in the pain and send out relief or love. There is no need to do the other parts-flashing absolute bodhichitta or working with the black, heavy, and hot and white, light, and cool. These can be skipped in daily life when you do tonglen on the spot."
So today I'm doing this practice for a someone near and dear to my heart that is going through a rough time right now. I hope she feels the healing love, peace and happiness that is in my heart.
Much love to all,