A Compassion Meditation
The practice of Tonglen- sending and recieving - is designed to awaken compassion, to put us in touch with genuine noble heart. It is a practice of taking in pain and sending out pleasure and therefore completely turns around our well-establish habit of doing just the opposite.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron
Find a comfortable position. You may want to put your feet on the floor in front of you and sit straight in your chair. With good posture, try to relax your body and mind. Start to turn your attention toward your breath. Thoughts or feelings may enter your mind, so in loving awareness, notice it. Then, center yourself again on your breath going in and out.
We begin by taking on the suffering of whom we know to be hurting and wish to help. For instance, if we know of a child who fell down and was hurt, we breathe in with the wish to take away the child’s pain and fear. Then, as we breathe out, we send happiness, joy or whatever would relieve that child’s pain. Now do the same for someone in your life that needs help, feel their suffering, their heart….now breathe out and send them breathe, life, joy, and happiness.
This is hard. It goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. To willingly try to empathize with suffering may seem unnatural to some. Allow this practice to open you up and help you experience a bigger view of reality.
Now think of something that you are struggling with. Feelings of anger, fear, or a situation that hurts your heart or makes you feel trapped. Breathe in that pain, those feelings, and then free yourself from being stuck there.
Now let’s go bigger. Think of everyone else in the world that is suffering from this same trauma or pain. What are they feeling?
What is it like to be in their shoes?
Breathe it in.
Let it go.
Continue this practice until you feel absolute compassion towards humanity and a clarity of mind.
God of grace, we know you work through our pain to create in us a compassionate heart for others. As we live throughout this week, let us practice this devotion: while we are walking in the grocery store, while we are waiting in the doctor’s office, in our everyday life, so we can open our hearts to our own pain and others. We do this so that we can know ourselves, know other’s, and ultimately, know Your love by practicing compassion.