First off, Happy New year!
I did it! I survived Christmas holidays. Oh sure, there were many pleasant moments over the festive period- a break away from the office, Christmas movies with the kids, baking- but there was also an underlying level of stress with all of the expectations of the season. It is always a hard time of year for me as I am far away from family and loved ones in Canada, but this year proved to be especially difficult.
If anyone has heard me teach, they will probably know that I usually bang on about the wonders and effectiveness of a good ol’ self compassion break when things get tough. However, I was staying at my colleague Fay Adams’ house on the eve of my holidays, recording our brand new online Mindfulness course, called The Wonder of The Everyday (for more information: click here and scroll down ), and she reminded me that Tonglen for Self is quite useful, too.
I’ve practiced Tonglen for Self many times, however, it has usually been embedded in a longer meditation. So, you can imagine my surprise and gratefulness to find that practicing Tonglen for Self as an ‘on the go’ practice brought an immediate ease to my stress levels and it most definitely saved my Christmas holidays.
So what is Tonglen for Self?
Tonglen is the Buddhist practice of Taking and Sending. A very basic description is to simply recognize and breathe in the suffering of others or yourself, allowing your compassionate heart to transform this suffering into compassionate light and healing and then sending out that light as you exhale.
All throughout the holiday season, whenever I felt anxiety, stress, discomfort, I simply breathed it in, allowing it to touch in and be transformed in my heart into self compassionate ease that I breathed out, softening my body and creating the space and comfort to carry on whatever it was that I was doing. This whole process only took a few moments and was revolutionary for me. It was quick and effective and it clicked.
So, this week’s challenge invites you to practice Tonglen for Self whenever you feel the stress levels rising. To do so, simply breathe in the sensations, feelings and thoughts of the difficulty, allowing and envisioning it to be transformed in your heart and then exhaling and softening around the difficulty with compassionate healing light with each exhale.
To watch my new Youtube Street Presence clip, (a brand new Youtube feature from the Mindfulness Association- make sure to subscribe to our channel!), outlining my experience please click here.
Let us know how you get on!
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