The Tonglen meditation that we did at the end of classes this week is pretty intense, but one that can help us be more compassionate and empathetic.
Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying, or for those that are in pain of any kind. It can be done either as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. For example, if you are out walking and you see someone in pain —right on the spot you can begin to breathe in their pain and send some out some relief.
We begin the practice by setting the intention to take away the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and who we wish to help. You breathe in the wish to take away all the pain and fear of that person. Then, as you breathe out, you send the person happiness, joy or whatever would relieve their pain. This is the core of the practice: breathing in another’s pain so they can be well and have space to heal and, breathing out, sending them relaxation, loving-kindness, compassion. You don’t take ON their pain; you take it AWAY from them.