Here in the West stress in one of the biggest killers but it doesn’t have to be. The ancient practice of Tong Len is proven to reduce stress levels simply because it can assist change in the way we perceive the world. Here’s how to practice Tong Len…Sit or lie quietly, and close your eyes. Try as much as possible to keep your spine straight, hands together in the lap, thumb tips pressed lightly together. If you like you can use an object or spiritual image. It’s always recommended that we sit upright doing this practice but for those of you unwell or unable to do so, a prone meditation practice will still work.
We start by imagining someone that we want to help. It could be a friend with depression. Here we breathe in the heaviness of their energy and suffering and breathe out joy and peace, or whatever other energy you feel would bring them comfort.
The suffering of others is also our own suffering, so this meditation can help us as we try to help others. If you are in some kind of pain, breathe in your own pain and also the pain of everyone who is suffering from your affliction. Breathe out relief to everyone, in whatever form feels most right to you.
Don’t worry that the things you breathe in will become a part of you, further weighing you down because as you breathe in suffering, it is transmuted back into light and it dissipates harmlessly. Sometimes we may not even have a word for what we are breathing it – it will simply be a feeling, a weightiness, a blackness or even a void. Breathe out hope, lightness, joy and well-being. Breathe out ease. At times when we’re in turmoil, this suffices. As we bring peace to others, we bring it also to ourselves. It is a very soothing and calming practice. You don’t need to belong to any particular religion, or follow any particular spiritual philosophy. This simple practice just acknowledges the fact we’re all human, all connected, and all the same – no matter who we are, or where we come from.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama says of Tonglen:
“Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense