Tonglen is a Tibetan word that means sending and taking. This practice is about working directly with our habit to avoid suffering and seek pleasure.

It’s a powerful tool to embrace our life experiences with more openness, compassion, inclusiveness, and understanding, rather than with denial, aversion, and resistance. When we encounter fear, pain, hurt, anger, jealousy, loneliness, or suffering, be it ourselves or others, we breathe in with the desire to completely embrace this experience ~ to feel it, accept it, and own it, free of any resistance.

How to Perform Tonglen

Rest your mind in a space of openness and stillness.

Work with a quality. Breathe in an image of something hot, heavy, dark, or burdened. Breathe out an image of something bright, cool, soft or joyful. Work with your entire body to breathe in and out.

Bring to mind a painful situation or a suffering person. Continue giving and taking with the breath. Inhale pain to your heart center. Exhale brilliant, bright joy.

Now, widen your reach to include anyone else in the same situation. All people everywhere who may also being feeling this pain. Breathe in their sadness. Exhale love.


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