In her book “When Things Fall Apart”, Pema Chodron describes the practice of Tonglen as ” a method for connecting with suffering – our own and that which is all around us everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming our fear of suffering, and for dissolving the tightness of our hearts.”
It is the practice of opening our hearts and allowing ourselves to feel the pain as means awakening compassion. Where we no longer seek to run away or hide from pain, but instead let it soften and purify us to make us more loving and kind.
By breathing in the pain, both our own and of others going through the same experience and breaking out love, compassion, forgiveness or whatever is the antidote to that feeling of pain, we transmute that suffering into something healing; thus the concept of using suffering or poison as medicine for awakening our consciousness.
So this weekend, whenever I felt any kind of pain or loneliness or resentment, I tried to breath it all in and to breath out relief from that pain, belonging or love as was appropriate. It helped me to not pick up the phone and text or reach out in some other way. When things that bothered me from my ex’s past came up, I tried to do the same, turning it into forgiveness and compassion. I tried to feel love and appreciation for the fact that he had been honest with me about everything and even though I am no longer affected by any of it, to look upon him with kindness. Holding onto pain would not serve either of us.
When I stop the train of thought and take a deep breath in, for that moment, my thinking is suspended and when I breath out with those kinder thoughts, I find that I no longer go back that repetitive pattern of thinking.
When I thought of him and what he might be feeling, wondering if he missed me, again I tried to breath it in and breath out a feeling of love. This concept is still very new to me, but it does work.