This is the first post of several on the topic of Tonglen meditation – my first suggestion of something that we can do to help to transform a relationship – whether that relationship be with ourself, with other, or even with a country.
In her book of daily mindfulness, Pocketful of Miracles, © 1994, pg. 422-423, Dr. Joan Borysenko calls this meditation “the meditation of giving and receiving,” and credits it to the Dalai Lama. In deference to her experience with this healing visualization, I will note that she encourages us to first use it for ourselves. Some apparently worry that this practice could harm them because it involves transmuting the pain, ignorance or illness of others. She recounts that the Tibetan lamas who use it hold that it cannot hurt us when done in the spirit of compassion, as the caring intent completely overcomes any potential of negativity impacting the person who practices this.
In support of Tonglen, I will share a personal experience I had with this meditation years ago. I was teaching a class at a college, and one of the students did not like me. Well, I didn’t ask her directly, but her body and facial language definitely gave me this impression. She scowled at me and avoided any contact with me, either in class or out of it.
After a bit of time spent wondering what I had done to offend her (which, of course, barring any conversation with the young lady, I would never figure out), I made the decision to do this Tonglen practice for her. I don’t even think I did it more than once or twice – but in the space of a week, this student looked at me one day in class and smiled! Yes, smiled! You could have knocked me over with a feather; I was a believer.
Susan C. Moyer, MSW
Is a sound healer and transformational coach. She has 25+ years experience in using alternate states of consciousness to access deeper healing on all levels: physical, psychological, mental and spiritual.