The Tonglen Practice for Fearlessness: 9-Minute Meditation
As long as we are indulging in the exhilarating fear of this season, we might as well look at the monsters inside, get to know the real fear already there.
The spiritual equivalent of watching a scary movie during your scary season is meditation. Oh yeah.
In the Wisdom of No Escape, Chodron talks about the Tonglen practice, which “has to do with cultivating fearlessness.” It’s a meditation, which is the best way to get to know your fear. “Since meditation has this quality of bringing you very close to yourself and your experience, you tend to come up against your edge faster. It’s not an edge that wasn’t there before, but because things are so simplified and clear, you see it, and you see it vividly and clearly.”
This meditation has 4 steps in order to progress us safely through, like walking through a haunted house.
To get in touch with the boddhicita, which means ‘courageous heart,’ we must touch on a sense of openness and spaciousness. For 5 breaths, imagine your heart expanding on the inhale, and on the exhale, you create spaciousness. This opens up the space.
Now on the inhale, imagine breathing in the dark, hotness of fear and then on the exhale, we breathe out white, cool, light pleasure and love. 5 breaths like this.
Then we call to mind something in our lives that is causing fear or the feeling of being stuck. We bring up and feel all qualities of this, breathing it in on the inhale. For the exhale, breathe out the love of a loving, some goodness of a situation in your life, ventilating, opening and sending out spaciousness, giving it out to the world on your exhale. 5 breaths, please.
Finally, we take in the overall fear of the world with the inhale, and for the world, we breathe out loving-kindness and compassion to all the world because everyone is feeling fear and pain. 5 breaths. Recognize that the uncomfortable fear you feel is something all sentient beings have and give out your love and joy to the world. We’re all sharing the same experience.
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