Tonglen Meditation (giving back)

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02 Dec 2021 21:21 #364481 by
Hello all,

So being a DBT/Prisoner therapist, one of my favorite topics is giving back, service, mindfulness, etc. So I've practiced this meditation for a long time now, ever since I got out of the service. Tonglen meditation is about giving back. It's about an exchange. It is really taking the suffering of others on, and giving back space to those who might be suffering so that they may be able to live with, cope with, and defeat their suffering and hurts. It is sort of a healing/transmutation of energy meditation. I've always pictured it as breathing in darkness, and breathing out light gently.

So the steps go as follows:
1. Begin to breathe in, and as you do this imagine a person, town, city, population, culture, etc. that might be suffering in some way, be it they are hurting emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Then as you continue to breathe in, imagine that you are taking on that suffering into your heart center, slowly beginning to transmute that energy there in the heart.
2. Then as you breathe out, continue to see that population/person, and as you breathe out imagine you returning that once negative energy, that has now been transmuted by your compassion, which is now positive energy, back over that population/person. Imagine it giving them the space they need to heal, stand up, fight back, empower them, etc.
3. Rinse and repeat.

That's all there is to it, and honestly it is a great practice to get into, especially when dealing with ones own sufferings as well. When doing this, it can also help take the focus off of our own sufferings, and ultimately help us heal as well. Not saying that we ignore our sufferings, because we have to attend to those as well, however sometimes some of the best medicine is healing another and wishing them well. This is sort of a form of Metta prayer almost, and usually at the end of a Metta prayer I choose to forgive myself and ask for my own healing and happiness as well, so there is nothing saying that you cannot do this meditation for yourself and your own potential suffering as well. Hope this meditation technique touches you and reaches you in a time of need.


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28 Dec 2021 15:35 #364946 by Squint
This is wonderful, thank you, David. I'm going to try this today.

Can you tell me more about Metta prayer? I'm not familiar with it.

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