Sometimes you come across a person during your day and you can see it in his or her face that they are not well. They might seem anxious, sad, angry or just extremely tense. In moments like these you feel that you’d like to alleviate their situation, but you have
no clue as to how.
Sometimes you find yourself witnessing a difficult situation between people and there is nothing you can do to help. You might be on the bus and a couple starts fighting, with harsh words flying through the air and lots of accumulated frustration at both sides, or walking through the supermarket and an exhausted mother screams at her disobedient child. If you meddle in with comments or well-meant advice, the situation
might just escalate.
In these situations you can do tonglen. I have blogged about it before, but I find this meditation technique so helpful that I want to beat a stroke for it again. In Pema Chödron’s wonderful book “Comfortable with Uncertainty”, she explains tonglen as follows: “Tonglen, “Sending and Receiving”, also described as changing self for other. In the practice of tonglen, we breathe in whatever feels bad and send out whatever
feels good”. Here is how I practice it:
• Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness and stillness
• Visualise and feel the sadness/anxiety/worries of the other person as a stream of
• Breathe in the dark clouds of their suffering through all the pores of your body.
• Let go of the darkness and suffering completely.
• Fill your whole being with love as a stream of warm, golden light.
• Breathe out and send this light from all your being to the other person.
When you start to practice tonglen you will feel how it increases your compassion and empathy for others. It makes you see other people in the street as equals, worthy of respect and love. You realise what a good life you have, how much you have to to give, and practicing tonglen is a wonderful way to share your abundance of joy and love with
anyone out there who needs support.