There’s no shortage of suffering in the world. I once heard a monk say that you don’t have to go looking for suffering because it’ll find you; it finds everyone. Suffering is part of the human condition. A blip of passing compassion goes a long way. One way of cultivating compassion is through the meditation practice of tonglen.
Tonglen centers on holding and releasing suffering for the benefit of all sentient beings. It is a quiet, good Samaritan practice.
If you’re dealing with a dark period of grief, despair, or general malaise, it’s understandable that this might not be the right time to dive into tonglen. However, if you are strumming along in life with neither highs nor lows, you might try it in your repertoire.
Rather than repeating a mantra during meditation, tonglen’s primary premise centers on inhaling suffering and exhaling compassion.
Think of tonglen as the catalytic converter of cleaning the emotional atmosphere with intention. It’s less about you, more about others. The intentional output offers others space to catalyze, grow, and heal.