April 16th, 2013

Lodro Rinzler: A Buddhist Meditation Practice for the Boston Marathon Tragedy

helliongoddess posted this on buddhistgroup

" ......Tonglen is a Tibetan word which can be translated as "sending and receiving." It is a practice where you breathe in the things that are painful or uncomfortable for others and breathe out, sending those people pleasing, soothing qualities. It is a practice that enables us to be open, vulnerable and yet offers strength within that context. I offer pith instructions below (click here for more from Shambhala acharya Pema Chodron).

1. Gap

To begin, sit in meditation for at least 10 minutes. For instructions on how to meditate, click here. When you are done, raise your gaze a bit and allow yourself to experience a brief mental gap. Allow your mind to experience its own vastness. Connect to the present moment, without an object of meditation.

2. Textures

As you return to focusing on your breath, begin to place your mind on a variety of textures. As you breathe in, imagine that you are breathing in hot, heavy energy. This may feel a bit claustrophobic, which is fine. Breathe in this weightiness, through every pore of your body. Then when you exhale, breathe out fresh, cool energy. Do this practice of breathing in and out, visualizing these textures, for a few minutes.

3. Individuals

Having gotten the hang of the ebb and flow of connecting your breath to these textures, bring to mind an individual involved in this tragedy. It might be someone you know of, or perhaps you have only seen their photo. Try your hardest not to shut down your heart but remain open to the scenario. As you breathe in, feel as if you are breathing in their specific pain. You may breathe in fear, or physical discomfort, or grief. We may not know exactly what everyone in Boston is going through but we all know those basic experiences. You can breathe that feeling in, and breathe out a sense of calm, or relief, or spaciousness to those people. Whatever comfort you can offer in this moment, offer it on the out-breath.

4. Go Bigger

As you conclude working with a specific person or persons during your tonglen practice, you can extend your practice larger than that scenario.  For example, you can extend that aspiration of relief to every one elsee who lives in Boston and is grieving or in physical pain.  The idea is to make this practice radiate far and wide, so all beings feel a sense of comfort as a result.

It is important to start as personal as possible in this practice, before going big.  If you sit down and just contemplate how many people are in pain and attempt toglen for them you may end up having this be a theoretical exercise.  If you start with one person, even if you have only seen their picture, you have a greater chance of it becoming real and experiential.*  At the end of your tonglen practice, return to the basic meditation practice for another few minutes.  Ground yourself back in the present moment by focusing on the natural flow of your breathe, sans visualization.

Through engaging in this practice we learn to become open-hearted, without judgement......"

Lodro Rinzler: A Buddhist Meditation Practice for the Boston Marathon Tragedy