Sunday, 27 December 2015

Tonglen mediation

For a while now I have been practising with Tonglen meditation. It's a very simple form of meditation. We breathe in and out without noticing all the time. It's so part of what we do, we do not notice it anymore. In Tonglen mediation we take our breaths in and out and make them special. So concentrate on breathing in and out, just on the breathing and nothing else.

Tonglen means "giving and receiving." In the Tonglen meditation, we receive, with a strong compassionate motivation, the suffering and pain of others; and we give them, with a tender and confident heart, all of our love, joy, well-being and peace. Normally, we don't want to give away our happiness, nor do we want to take on another person's suffering, but this not-wanting is the voice of our selfish ego. We cherish "I" more than we do "others" and thus everything we think or do has a self-centred motivation. Following our ego's commands all the time keeps us trapped in cycles of hope and frustration, fear and disappointment.

The voice of your ego may warn you that Tonglen could "harm" you, but this is not true. The compassion practices are designed to unravel the selfish patterning of the ego and gradually reinforce your confidence in the wisdom and compassion of your true nature.

With each in-breath, take in the negativity from your external or internal atmosphere, in the form of a dark cloud, and consider that this dark cloud of negativity is transformed at your heart centre, the way hot air is cooled by an air conditioner. With every exhalation, send out and fill the atmosphere with calm, clarity, and joy in the form of light.

Visualize that sitting in front of you is someone in your life whom you know to be suffering. Open yourself to this person's suffering, allowing yourself to feel connected with him or her and aware of all of their difficulties. Feel rising in you a strong compassionate intention to release the person from their suffering and even its causes.

Breathe in the other person's suffering, in the form of a dark cloud, and visualize it coming into your heart centre, where it dissolves any final traces of self-grasping. As you breathe out, consider that you are sending to the other person, in the form of brilliant light, all your healing love, warmth, energy, confidence and joy.

Continue this "giving and receiving" with each breath for as long as you wish. At the end of the practice, consider that your compassion has completely dissolved all the person's suffering and even its causes, filling him or her with well-being, peace, happiness and love.

You do not presume to be a doctor who heals the suffering and removes it's causes on the operation table. You do not presume to be anything more than you are. It is out of loving kindness of your heart you do the Tonglen meditation. Pema Chödrön, a Buddhist nun tells it so much better than I can:


  1. I have never heard of this particular type of meditation...very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Han.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. It is. Interesting. It's fascinating.

      And difficult.


  2. Hmmm.. I like it. It is like pray for somebody or something , but not with words, but with breath.
    I like it.
    And world, how it looks today, with all wars, need all help it can get.

    Thank you, Han, I learned something new again.

    Take care,
    Mona Lisa

    1. I doubt it will help in the greater meaning of things, but it helps on a personal level. And if each one would work on a personal level....

      Well, thank you for your reflection, Mona Lisa


  3. This is a wonderful! It is like praying or meditating but more physical in practice. I think that I am going to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.
    By the way, my daughter flew from England to Germany, with a layover in Copenhagen. In the airport's gift shop, these was a section that was called American candy and the candy that was offered were Nerds and Milk Duds. I am still laughing at the picture she sent us.

    1. It is a kind and rather easy way of trying to deal with problems that are bigger than us and only can be solved by the universe, it seems.

      Thank you for stopping by, Blonde,


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