How to Practice Tonglen – Lion Roar

Pema Chödrön teaches us “send and take,” an ancient Buddhist practice for awakening compassion. With each inspiration, we absorb the pain of others. With each exhalation, we send them relief.

tonglen demonstration illustration art

Illustration by Carole Henaff.

Tonglen’s practice, also known as “grab and send,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In the practice of tonglen, we visualize absorbing the pain of others with each inspiration and sending everything that will benefit them to the expiration. In the process, we free ourselves from the ancestral patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.

Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a much larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited amplitude of shunyata (void). As we practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being.

Tonglen can be done for those who are sick, those who are dying or dying, or those who are suffering from any kind of pain. It can be done as a formal meditation practice or directly on site at any time. If we are walking and seeing someone in pain, we can breathe in that person’s pain and send relief.

Breathe for all of us and exhale for all of us. Use what looks like poison as medicine.

We usually look the other way when we see someone suffering. His pain brings out our fear or anger; it causes our resistance and confusion. So we can also make tonglen for all people like us: all those who want to be compassionate but afraid, who want to be brave but instead are cowards. Instead of hitting ourselves, we can use our personal attachment as a springboard to understand what people around the world are facing. Breathe for all of us and exhale for all of us. Use what looks like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.
When you practice tonglen as a formal meditation practice, there are four stages:

1. Flash on Bodhichitta

Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called the blinking of the absolute bodhichitta, the waking mind of the heart, or the openness to basic breadth and clarity.

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2. Start viewing

Work with texture. It breathes sensations of heat, darkness and heaviness (feeling of claustrophobia) and breathes sensations of freshness, luminosity and light, a sensation of freshness. Breathe completely, absorbing negative energy through every pore in your body. When you exhale, radiate positive energy completely, through every pore in your body. Do this until your view is in sync with your breaths and breaths.

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3. Focus on a personal situation

Focus on any painful situation that is real to you. Traditionally, you start making tonglen for someone you care about and want to help. However, if you are stuck, you can practice because of the pain you are feeling yourself and at the same time for all those who feel the same suffering. For example, if you feel inadequate, breathe it out for yourself and everyone else on the same boat and send confidence, fit, and relief the way you want.

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4. Expand your compassion

Finally, it increases entry and shipping. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it to all those who are in the same situation. If you’re tonglen by someone you see on TV or on the street, do it for everyone else on the same boat. Make it bigger than just one person. You can make tonglen for people you consider your enemies, those who hurt you, or others. Make tonglen for them, thinking of them as with the same confusion and stranding as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief.

Tonglen can extend infinitely. As you practice, your compassion naturally expands over time, and so does your understanding that things are not as solid as you thought, which is a vision of emptiness. As you do this practice, little by little at your own pace, you will be surprised to find yourself increasingly able to stand by others, even in situations that previously seemed impossible.

#Practice #Tonglen #Lion #Roar

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