So many of us are watching with horror over the turmoil and suffering that’s happening around us – whether it’s in our backyard or other parts of the world. Violence and war and hunger, sickness, disease… among people, among animals.
It can be overwhelming for many of us. I regularly see people who are troubled and despairing over the unrest either in their own backyard or across the globe. With that in mind, I offer this short practice that is gifted to us by Tibetan Buddhism.
If you have a friend or family member who is an empath and has been especially struggling, I highly recommend you share this video with them.
Rather than try to push the suffering of others out of our minds, I want to share with you a practice that comes from Tibetan Buddhism, which can be very helpful when this wave of despair washes over us about suffering.
It’s called Tonglen. In the Tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out through our exhale … lightness, relief, and healing. And if it’s hard to visualize that, when you breath out, we can say to ourselves as we think of those in need: May you be safe, may you be free, may you be at peace and may you be happy.
You can do this anytime… when the sadness weighs on you, this is a way to transform how we relate to this suffering or you can make this a regular part of your meditation practice.
Whenever we encounter suffering — be it a news story, a family member’s pain, or a stranger’s distress—this Tonglen practice offers a tool for transforming our reactions and and creating a sense of interconnectedness with others.
It’s very soothing,
So let’s just take a couple of minutes here to practice tonglen.
We breath in – visualizing the taking in of others’ pain and suffering, and sending out safety, freedom, peace and happiness for people, and for animals.
By embracing, rather than avoiding suffering we go right to it. This practice is designed to awaken our compassion and altruism and it turns the natural human tendency to shy away from suffering on its head. This intentional exchange is not just a meditative technique but a radical act of empathy, aiming to cultivate an enlightened mind through this willingness to share in the suffering of others.
It expands our capacity for compassion and empathy. It reminds us of our deep interconnectedness with all beings and serves as a pathway to personal and collective healing. By practicing Tonglen for a couple of minutes, we learn to respond to the world’s pain with love and compassion rather than avoidance and fear.
May you be safe, may you be free, may you be at peace, may you be happy. What a lovely blessing for each and every one of us. I’m Becca Williams and I want you to lead your most magnificent life and I want to help you do that.