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Tibetan Healing Meditation:Tonglen May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness

Updated on July 9, 2012

Meditate to Heal Others through Compassion

Have you ever been overwhelmed with compassion for a fellow human being and wished you knew something helpful you could do for him/her? Well, there is a Tibetan meditative practice called Tonglen that will help, and not just the person that is suffering, indeed Tonglen aids the meditator too. I must warn you, however, because Tonglen is an advanced practice. Consequently, it should not be undertaken within the first few years of meditating because the absorption of energy can be overwhelming. Let me explain.

What transpires during Tonglen is that the meditator breathes in whatever energy is causing the suffering and literally pulls it inside him/herself. (This energy may be a result of mental or physical pain, fear, anger, guilt, disease, doubt, or frustration). Now, on the out-breath, the meditator consciously sends from his/her heart chakra--healing, peace, joy, well-being, peace of mind and fulfillment to this person. As a result, the person who does the meditation can easily become depleted psychically. In order to avoid this result, one must have developed a strong sense of not only self-compassion but also equanimity as an advanced practitioner of meditation (and possibly yoga too).

Compassion for Others

Have you ever wanted to help take away another's pain?

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Envisioning Dark and White Light

It may be helpful to envision a dark light coming into you while you are receiving the disturbing energy while simultaneously breathing in. Now at the top of the breath, neutralize the darkness with your mind, and on the out-breath visualize a white light zooming out of your heart chakra (or the crown of your head, or both) and send loving-kindness towards the person who is ill. These images below may allow you to visualize how the darkness becomes lighter and less heavy as you breathe for the ill person. Another name for Tonglen that the Tibetan monks use is "giving and receiving."

Darkness to Light

The darkness overwhelms us at times.
The darkness overwhelms us at times.

The Battle Between the Two Energies

This is the pause at the top of the breath.
This is the pause at the top of the breath.
Light is revealed!
Light is revealed!


After doing Tonglen, mentally say the equanimity mantra for the next several days during meditation.

This mantra is:

“All beings are responsible for their own actions.Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself. The freedom of others is dependent on their actions, not on my wishes for them. Ultimately, all beings have to free themselves. “ --(Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within)

A second mantra that is useful to close all meditation practices is the following, typically Buddhist mantra:

May all beings experience happiness and the cause of happiness.

May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.

May all beings develop compassion and equanimity.

May all beings remain attached to Source which is utmost Joy.

May all beings be free from too much attachment and too much aversion.

The Happiness of a Tibetan Monk!

Shifting to Positive Energy is a Must!

CAUTION! Do not do Tonglen for an extended period of time. Practice ten minutes a day at the most, and remember to neutralize at the top of the breath and also to dedicate the meditative session to this person during the final moments of the practice. Finally, it can be extremely advantageous to finish a session like this with one or both of the following mantras. This can be helpful because your energy needs to be restored to maintain your own balance and equanimity. It is easy to be pulled into negative energy; we all know this to be fact. When one wakes up on the ‘wrong side of the bed’ as they say, isn’t the rest of the day a total loss? Shifting one’s energy isn’t hard to do, but it is absolutely necessary when performing Tonglen.

For Whom Shall I Perform Tonglen?

Obvious recipients for whom a person performs Tonglen include one’s own family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors. Yet, you may do this for people you have never met as well. Indeed, it is possible to do this practice for groups of people, such as trapped miners, victims of earthquakes or tsunamis. In fact, you may even do this practice for someone who has passed on, especially if this person suffered a great deal in his/her life.

One technique that Buddhist meditators use when doing Tonglen is to start with someone close to them, then move to someone that is neutral (like the cashier at the grocery store), and continue with someone whom one dislikes. Furthermore, you extend your reach geographically to one’s city, state, nation, hemisphere, planet, galaxy, universe, multi-verse, etc… if you so wish. There really is no limit and it is quite beneficial to one’s meditative practice and to one’s karma, or state of grace.

Guided Meditation by Tulku Tsori Rinpoche


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