When Suffering is Heavy
Andree posted a great comment to Monday's question on supplements to meditation practice. I had read about tonglen practice, but I felt that something was missing from my understanding about what to do or how to approach the practice. I thought the way she expressed it was very clear. It made something sort of click for me, so I encourage you to check it out if tonglen is an unfamiliar practice for you. So, thanks Andree for all of your wonderful comments.
I received some news this week about the passing of a long time family friend and also news about a sorority sister whose sister has been on a ventilator for some days. It has been one of those weeks when death and its shadow has come to hover over people I know and I can't help but feel compassion for them. In this context, tonglen makes an incredible amount of sense to me as a practice. Previously when I'd first heard about the practice it sounded a bit ascetic, but in this moment I realize that it is truly compassion in action.
I'm off to make tonglen my practice for the night. When suffering is heavy for those you know (or when you find yourself moved by the suffering of those you don't know) this is a practice you can try. For more information on tonglen practice, check out this article by Pema Chodron who teaches often on the practice.