Friday, September 25, 2015

Embracing Pain, Overcoming Fear

Soul Collage: My Creative Self
Tonglen is a Buddhist breathing practice to overcome our fear of suffering, awaken the compassion inherent in all of us, and release the fixations of ego. Anytime you suffer, this practice will be healing. 

Even if you can't name your pain or experience it fully, you can sense it in your body. Stay in contact with that awareness and breathe in your pain with the wish to take away your fear. 

Note that you are not asking to take away your suffering, but rather your fear of suffering. Then breathe out relaxation, relief, joy. Do this for several breaths.

You can also begin the practice by taking on the pain of someone you know, breathing in the wish to take away their fear, breathing out relaxation, relief, happiness for several breaths.

Doing so, you may come face to face with your own fear, resistance, anger or any form of personal pain, often when you are feeling stuck.

Then you can change the focus and do the practice for yourself and all others like you who are feeling the same pain. I especially love this third aspect of tonglen practice, breathing in the pain of everyone in the world who suffers the same feeling, breathing out relaxation, relief, and joy. It touches me as a reminder that none of us is completely alone, that all our emotions are shared with anyone who has ever lived.

Tonglen may be a formal meditation practice. You can also use it any moment you experience pain or see others in pain. As you invite this larger view of reality, you'll begin to notice your perceptions changing. Your assumptions of how things are will not be nearly as solid as before.