Heartful Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 4

Tonglen Practice

10 min - Practice


Building on Seasons 1 and 2 of Heartful, we build on our loving kindness and compassion meditations by diving in to the fierce practice of Tonglen, a Buddhist meditation practice of sending and receiving. Kira guides us through a full practice.
What You'll Need: No props needed


Read Full Transcript

So let's practice Tong Lin together. If you haven't yet mastered the skills of loving kindness and compassion, please go back to season one and two and practice those first. This is a fierce practice, it's the real deal, and those steps will help it be successful. Big deliberate inhale. Exhale, let a ha happen, soften the belly. Do this again. Inhale. Exhale and ha. Snuggle down through the sit bones, let the belly feel full, open. Like we practiced in the compassion sequence, begin to feel the movement of the breath in the belly. Allow yourself to feel rooted, grounded, and stable. Yes. Maintaining this rooting only as you feel ready. Give a little bit of pressure down through the sit bones to help allow your heart to naturally blossom. Shoulders roll back and down, let the elbows get heavy, and let your palms turn up. And now still feel the breath in the belly a bit just to maintain a connection towards the earth while you simultaneously start to let your heart come into your field. I feel the center of your heart. This will naturally pull the breath a little bit longer so the breath will feel more balanced in the in the torso. Uh-huh. Okay, now find the alignment of your skull so it feels properly balanced on your spine. Let the upper palate of your mouth dome. Let your eyes feel kind and let your hands feel tender. And allow yourself the necessary space to really tune into this seat. Your seat will assist you in your practice. Your eyes can be closed or they can be softly focused out in front of you. And now tenderly allow your friend, loved one, someone who you truly care about, who is suffering to come into your field of awareness. And be aware of their suffering. Maybe it's an illness, maybe it's a particularly difficult life situation. Again, you're not trying to fix it. So before you begin the practice of Tong Lin, can you make room for the suffering? Can you allow the suffering to be seen and felt more clearly? Simultaneously now start to connect to the feeling in your heart center that we practiced with the loving-kindness where truly the deep heartfelt wish for another's happiness sits. And it's from this combination of your genuine compassion and sincere heartfelt wish of joy and happiness for another that this practice comes from. So only as you're ready, and we'll sit together and practice this about five minutes, okay? So only as you're ready. On the inhale you imagine drawing in a black smoke through your nose towards that hard pearl of the self-cherishing mind in the center of the heart. The pearl breaks, the diamond appears, and as you exhale you offer that white light from your primordial nature. As you inhale you draw the suffering in in the visualization of black smoke. You draw it down to the center of the chest towards that hard pearl. The pearl breaks open to reveal the diamond and the white light you breathe back out through your nose towards the knee. Continuing.

And just help your mind stay focused on this. Just doing your best to stay present and attentive without being rigid. I'm drawing in the black smoke aiming it at the self-cherishing nature of the mind. Letting that crack and exhaling back that white light. It's not unusual for thoughts of what this being needs to do differently to arise. Just do your best to nod them on their way. As might have happened to you in earlier practices you might have started with one person. Somebody else might have butted their way in. Just let that happen. Desire for wanting credit for your good Samaritan actions is a pretty common feeling. Laugh that on its way and continue your work. Worry that this might actually work and you might actually catch their disease or illness or life problems. It means you're on the right track. It means you have exposed what we are trying to expose which is the part of us that doesn't want to suffer. Let the back of the heart stay relaxed, belly soft, skull aligned. Notice if your throat has gotten hard, let your throat feel a little easier. If you're really working the breath, like see if you can tone it down just a little bit. The breath is merely a vehicle to hold the mind steady in this case.

Breathing in that black thick smoke, aiming it at the black pearl in the center of the heart. Letting the black pearl open, revealing the diamond, the part of us that is never tarnished, the part of us that cannot suffer. And offer that white light back on the exhale. Last few moments. As you feel ready after your next exhale, rest. Thank your loved one, your friends, if you had a crowd, thank them for assisting you in your practice. Let yourself rest in your own heart, feeling the breath. And maybe big deliberate inhale, exhale everything. Let your hands find each other. Good work my yogi friends. Love.


1 person likes this.
Thank you, Kira.
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Claudia Jean
Thank you, Kira, for such clear and loving instruction on the challenging practice of tonglen.
Ana N
1 person likes this.
Thanks Kira for sharing this beautiful practice. I'd like to hearing something about you. Love ❤️
Kira Sloane
Ana, missing you!
Michelle F
1 person likes this.
hola preciosa!
as you said-" if you havent yet "mastered" the skills of compassion and loving kindness please go back to those practises"
- I totally had the sensation of just not being as compassionate and loving as I could be - and I also wondered if this was even ever going to be possible - to be so totally compassionate and kind. Anyway I thought I better go back!
Thanks for reminding me not to be in a rush - why do i need a "fierce " practise anyway- though I must add I loved the image of the exploding black pearl and the diamond sparkling so clearly -
have a wonderful day!
Kira Sloane
Dearest Michelle, I so hope I have not discouraged you. These practices are meant to expose us to ourselves. Seeing yourself clearly as you did, means it was successful! I have found great freedom in knowing the depths of my smallness. Glad you are here. With Love, Kira
Michelle F
1 person likes this.
gosh Kira - quite the contrary! I am amazed at the very real tangible connection I feel to you and the practices you share without us ever having met-I feel encouraged and supported to go deeper but simple realise I have a tendency to "rush" - and so decided to go back to loving kindness and do a little more "homework!" I thank you - and everyone at yoga anytime from the bottom of my heart! have a wonderful day
Kira Sloane
Michelle, I am so grateful to your sharing of your experience this morning. Happy to be practicing together. Love, Kira
Melissa H
3 people like this.
I have been suffering so much over the atrocities with the immigrant families torn apart and tramautized by border patrol. This practice helped a tiny bit. I need to do it everyday. Remembering the diamond in my heart that cannot suffer grounds me. Thank you, Kira!
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