Tonglen Meditation

Definition - What does Tonglen Meditation mean?

Tonglen meditation is a meditation practice developed by Tibetan Buddhists that includes a breathing technique.

A Tibetan word, tonglen means "giving and receiving." As such, the concept of this meditation technique involves giving and receiving, which refers to taking in the suffering of the self and others and giving compassion and support to those in need. In this way, Tonglen meditation increases compassion toward others and develops the ability to aid in addressing another's distress.

Yogapedia explains Tonglen Meditation

To practice Tonglen meditation, sit straight or lie down flat on the floor. Place the palms on the knees if sitting, or place the hands on the heart chakra if lying down. Keep the eyes closed. Bring the focus to the breath. Breathe in and out slowly. While inhaling, let negative emotions such as fear and hatred surface. While exhaling, let out negative emotions and let the space be filled with love and compassion. With every inhalation, bring the awareness to the suffering of a loved one and take in their suffering. Breath out compassion and support with every exhalation. The same approach can be applied to anyone, including those one dislikes. After performing this meditation for 15 minutes, perform the purification process by imagining the suffering as black smoke at the center of the heart and exhaling it out of the system. Fill the heart with love and compassion.

As one advances in the practice, the heart opens to the world, breathing in its suffering and breathing out compassion. Eventually, the yogi realizes that the wrong choices of others he/she dislikes are only the result of their karma, which makes one forget their wrongdoing and allows one to wish them well.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter