Mindfulness Activity #119
Good Morning. There is much unrest and suffering in the world. Often we see pain, injustice, suffering in others and it is frankly overwhelming. We want to avoid or to protect ourselves from the pain or we think there is nothing we can do for this person or for a huge or devastating problem. There is a specific Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice called Tonglen. Tong means giving or sending and len means receiving or taking. Through accepting pain and sending compassion we release strength. We can heal others and ourselves from suffering through this practice.
This ancient practice uses breath and visualization to imagine breathing in the pain and suffering of yourself and others and breathing out compassion, hope, and well-being. It is one thing we can do when someone we care about is suffering and there appears to be little we can do to help or change their situation.
For today’s practice, you will need to choose some pain or suffering that you wish to work on. It may be broad suffering such as the pain of all the people of a country devastated by drought or famine, it could be all the people devastated by COVID-19 or it could be the specific suffering of the loss of one person due to the virus. Perhaps someone close to you is suffering with illness, financial stress, or the pain of coming to terms with abuse, or the guilt of having harmed people because of an addiction. Choose the suffering you wish to alleviate. Imagine it in your mind’s eye.
Settle into a comfortable upright position. Click the timer…
(Read) Listen to the sound of the Mindfulness Bell. Enter into a state of present awareness. Breathe in and out.
(Read) Now call to mind the suffering you have chosen to work on.
Once you have come into contact with the suffering in this person, imagine it as thick gunky black smoke. Try to breathe in the quality of heaviness. This hot, heavy, stagnation is the stuckness people feel when they are hopeless and suffering. If you wish, you can imagine your heart opening wide enough to let the smoke in.
(Read) Imagine your heart dissolving the smoke. On your out-breath, imagine releasing out spaciousness and compassion. Imagine a clear white cool refreshing breeze releasing outwards.
Synchronize your breathing, breathing in pain and darkness and breathing out clear, fresh compassionate energy–working so that the length of your inhales and exhales are uniform.
(Read) When you hear the bell end the practice, imagine the person or situation you were using for your practice one last time. Imagine sending out water for drought or food for those who are hungry. Or if it is emotional suffering you were doing tonglen practice for, imagine sending out relief, strength or happiness for the person you were practicing for.
Investigate more about this practice if you like…
Have a nice day!