Tonglen Meditation: Connecting with Others

In her book, “When Things Fall Apart,” Pema Chodron introduces the reader to the practice of tonglen — sending and receiving — which is designed to awaken bodhichitta, or the noble and genuine heart within us. Tonglen is the practice of connecting with other people around the world who are suffering, perhaps how you are currently suffering, and breathing in pain and sending out pleasure. Pema goes on to explain that, “…whenever we encounter suffering in any form, the tonglen instruction is to breathe it in with the wish that everyone could be free of pain. Whenever we encounter happiness in any form, the instruction is to breathe it out, send it out, with the wish that everyone could feel the joy.”  This is “…a practice that allows people to feel less burdened and less cramped, and a practice that shows us how to love without conditions” (p. 88).

Try the tonglen meditation for 5 minutes. What was your experience with tonglen?

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