Tonglen practice reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in our own pain or other people challenges, with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit us/them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age- old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.

The best place to start Tonglen is with ourselves. We can transform areas where we are stuck or have blocks. Drop into the awakened heart-mind, surrender all thoughts to Divine Spaciousness and Clarity. The next step is to start working with textures and feeling states. Notice any darkness, heaviness or heat as you breathe in, as you breathe out gift yourself freshness, light and coolness. Stay in this cycle of breathing in challenges and breathing out oneness, feel the darkness abating and the light increasing.

After we have practiced and honed this ability to heal ourselves we can move to transforming other peoples stops, blocks or hindrances. Make the taking in and sending out bigger and bigger. If you’re working on a family members self-hatred expand the number of people, or the energetic field, to all people hating themselves in your community. A caveat, given that everything is connected and we are all one, we can work with an infinite number of Beings! 

Something that is profoundly beautiful and fun is to envision yourself in orbit around the planet taking in and sending back for all Beings, animals, plants, global warming; we can take in war like behaviors and give back peace!

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