Giving And Receiving

Many years ago, while listening to a talk by Pema Chodron, I heard her say something about a Tibetan practice called tonglen. A loose translation of tonglen is “giving and receiving.”

Even a couple of years ago, I attended a concert in Oakland, California in which one of the artists played the piano and sang a song that had the following refrain:

Breathe in the pain.

Breathe on out the love.

I was touched by these verses and didn’t really know  how to do tonglen. More talks from Pema Chodron didn’t clear this up for me.

Heart Shaped RocksLast week, I had to tell my daughter in Barcelona, Spain some bad news. I knew that the news would make her suffer a lot. I didn’t want to hurt her because I love her so much. After all, she’s a grown woman of 29 years.

Prior to contacting her via Facetime, I spent several days contemplating how she would feel and I actually began to feel her pain. At the same time, I felt the love that I have always had for her.

I also had to break the same news to my 31 year old daughter, as well. She is living at home, so it was much easier to contemplate telling her. However, the same considerations entered my mind. I could feel her pain, and I could also fell the love I have for her.

I started practicing with one girl at a time. I’d breathe in the pain I felt for the 29 year-old, knowing that she would be hurt. Then I’d breathed on out my love for her.

I repeated the process for the 31 year-old and realized that I was practicing tonglen, or giving and receiving. This made the telling a lot easier.

I first told the 31 year-old and once her initial crying stopped and we considered the situation as completely as possible, I told her about my meditation practice of tonglen for her benefit. I believe that she felt much better about the situation because she could feel my love.

A few hours later, the process was repeated for the Spaniard, with similar results.

Would you like to learn the mindfulness practice of tonglen, giving and receiving? Answer below or send me an email and I will send you instructions. If enough people reply, I’ll post the instructions in another article.

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