Tonglen is a Buddhist practice of working with suffering – ours, and everyone else’s at every opportunity. It is a practice of feeling all the feelings, and amongst them finding compassion for others, and for ourselves on every level. It can sound kind of grim at first, but is a practice to actually soften us and allow us to feel more loving. Empaths in particular can especially feel too much and this can be a daunting practice, yet hugely beneficial.
The practice can be done sitting, eyes closed, bringing the suffering of someone to mind, or many people, and sending them love and compassion and relief, and breathing in their pain and suffering. What occurs most often is we can’t get to theirs without being confronted by our own fear of suffering on any level. So it is a way to learn about the things from which we shy away from. Pema says, “People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully, this practice does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, of wanting it to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. The practice dissolves the armor of self-protection we’ve tried so hard to create around ourselves. In Buddhist language one would say that it dissolves the fixation and clinging of ego”.
Tonglen feels like a good practice for this moment in time, if not for all moments in time.
Written with love,