Practice Tonglen to Expand Your Compassion
The practice of tonglen is used to stretch your ability to be compassionate. It is a Buddhist practice used to connect with suffering–your own, as well as that which is around you–which helps to open and expand your heart.
You begin the practice by using your breath to take on the suffering of a person you know to be hurting and who you wish to help. For instance, if you know a person with a difficult health issue, thinking of them as you inhale, you breathe in the wish to take away all of their pain and fear. Then, with your exhale, you send them joy, love, peace, or whatever you feel might help relieve their pain.
This is a practice that can bring you face to face with your own fear–your own resistance, personal pain, or stuckness–that is occurring in that moment. If something comes up for you, change the focus and begin to do tonglen for what you are feeling and for millions of others like you who are at that very moment feeling a similar sensation of stuckness and misery. You can then send compassionate care to yourself and others who are experiencing similar distress.
Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.
Rather than avoiding suffering, which we tend to do, we can face it head on and use it as a path to healing and compassion