Over email and survey, many of you have reached out asking for a practice to support us in dealing with difficult emotions we may feel when reading/watching the news. Thanks, first of all, for bringing attention to this very real issue - there is so much suffering in the world that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all that is happening.
Here is a practice you can do whenever you start to feel this sense of overwhelm: Tonglen, a method to connect with suffering.
Take some time to find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position.
Begin by breathing in whatever you are feeling—fear, agitation, anger, resistance—and accepting it. On the exhalation, breathe out well-being.
Clear your mind by bringing awareness to what is agitating you and breathing it in, accepting it with kindness. Then, as you exhale, give yourself some spaciousness. Do this breath practice until you are calm and present.
When you feel settled, begin to establish a rhythm of breathing. On your inbreath, imagine that you are inhaling heavy, hot air. On your outbreath visualize exhaling cool, light air. Continue with this pattern—breathing in heaviness and breathing out lightness—until it is familiar to you. The heaviness is suffering; the lightness is well-being.
Send a deep, cool, light, and spacious healing breath to those who are suffering. Let the outbreath flow through every pore of your body.
Breathe in their suffering. Let your heart break open. Send them healing with your outbreath. Continue with this practice for as long as you’d like.
Take time to reflect; how does your body feel now?
Thanks so much for your practice, and please do reply to this email to let me know about your experience!
Peace and light,
*Thanks to the Upaya Zen Center for this practice.