The word Tonglen, or Tong Len, is Tibetan for “giving and receiving”, with Tong meaning “giving” and Len referring to “receiving”. This Buddhist meditation practice focuses on taking in the pain of yourself or others with compassion and giving out a healing antidote. The goal of this meditation practice is to overcome the fear of your own or another's suffering and to build compassion.
A Tonglen meditation practice can be helpful when you, or someone you know, is experiencing emotional heaviness. Instead of turning away from your own or another person's pain, or empathizing too deeply so that you become overwhelmed, you can practice tonglen to transform pain into compassion and love.
You can also practice tonglen meditation on yourself by breathing in a current problem or difficult emotions and breathing out an antidote for yourself and all others in the world who are suffering in the same way. This builds compassion when you feel aversion to your own problems or other people's struggles, and want to push them away.
One of the most powerful aspects of the practice of tonglen is that it can be done in daily life whenever you can become aware of your breath. As you breathe in, practice taking on the pain of someone that you care about. As you breathe out, imagine sending an antidotal form of loving-kindness to the one you care about, and all others who are suffering similarly.
If you feel fear, for example, you can breathe in the fear, and breathe out antidotal courage for yourself and all others in the world who are currently feeling fearful.
I have created a free worksheet for you to download HERE.