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His Holiness the Dalai Lama

 

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Tonglen Meditation

"Breathe in suffering, and breath out compassion."

 

 

Snow Storm

 

 

Why do Tonglen Meditation?

 

Negative thinking causes us to make poor choices that bring back hurtful consequences (karma).

 

By doing Tonglen Meditation on a regular basis, we will let go of negativity, open the heart center, and develop clear thinking that leads to wise choices.

 

Tonglen Meditation helps us to deal effectively with difficult people and stressful situations.

 

If more of us replace negativity with compassion and wisdom, we will heal ourselves, each other, and the world.

 

Redwoods

Redwood Forest

 

How to do Tonglen Meditation

 

Preparation

 

Sit or lie down with a straight back and relax your body. Turn inside and focus on your breathing. Breathe slowly, deeply, evenly through your nostrils, from your abdomen, with the in-breath the same length as the out-breath, and without a pause in between the in-breath and out-breath.

 

Yourself

 

As you breathe in, let your greed, anger, jealousy, fear, attachment, confusion, and other negative thinking come to the surface. On your out-breath, breathe out this negative thinking, and fill the empty space with compassion.

 

Realize that you want to be happy, but your negative thinking causes you to make poor choices that lead to suffering instead. By letting go of negative thinking and developing compassion toward yourself, you will be free to make wise choices that lead to happiness. Negative thinking depresses the immune system, closes the heart, upsets balance, and leads to illness and suffering.

 

Compassion enhances the immune system, opens the heart, brings about balance, and promotes health and happiness.

 

Someone you love

 

Breathe in the suffering of someone you love, and breathe out compassion to the person. Realize that your loved one wants to be happy, but is suffering instead. Open your heart to your loved one.

 

 

Ocean Waves

Ocean Waves

 

Neutral person

 

Breathe in the suffering of someone about whom you feel neutral (for example, a clerk in a store), and breathe out compassion to the person. Realize that the person wants to be happy but is suffering instead. Open your heart to the person.

 

 

Someone you dislike

 

Breathe in the suffering of someone you dislike – someone you think has hurt you - and breathe out compassion to the person. Realize that the person, like everyone else, wants to be happy. Because of negative thinking, the person makes harmful choices that lead to suffering. If you increase that suffering, the person may behave even worse. You are best off developing compassion so you can think clearly about how to deal with the person in a manner that brings back good consequences, not bad ones (karma). Open your heart to the person.

 

 

The world

 

Breathe in the suffering of the world, and breathe out compassion to the world. Realize that everyone in the world wants to be happy, but too often makes unwise choices that lead to suffering instead. Realize that by developing universal compassion, you can help to relieve this suffering. Open your heart to the world.

 

Purification

 

At the end of your meditation, visualize the suffering you breathed in as black smoke in your heart center. You must let go of this black smoke, or it could increase your own suffering. Breathe out this black smoke completely. Then fill your heart center and your whole being with compassion toward yourself, everyone else, and the world.

 

Sunset

Sunset

 

 

 

Images representing Ethical Behavior (Yama), Personal Behavior (Niyma), Posture
(Asana), Breath Enhancement (Pranayama), Sensory Inhibition (Pratyahara), Concentration (Dharana), Meditation (Dhyana), and Unity (Samadhi)

 


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