Breathe in Suffering, Breathe out Joy and Compassion

In this time of tremendous suffering and pain as a result of the horrible shootings in Oregon and Connecticut, I am reminded of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen Meditation. Tonglen meditation takes in another’s suffering while returning to them healing with our exhale. Often our compassion for others must start with showing more compassion towards our selves. The shock and the horror that all of us have experienced from hearing of these recent tragedies is beyond what we can imagine and leaves us feeling powerless, angry, crushed with despair.

So what can WE do to transform these emotions that may be stuck inside us? What can WE do right here, right now to help these families who are grieving? In these times of great pain for others, I have found this meditation to be incredibly simple, yet powerfully transformative.


Step One: Breathe In If you have the time, find a comfortable position to sit for a few minutes or you can do this in just the few moments you have in between your daily tasks. Breathe in for a count of five seconds. Let your breath bring in the pain, the yuck, the regrets, the do over wishes, the suffering, the bad memories, the sunk feelings that weigh heavy in your heart, Breathe them in deeply. Let them expand until you feel that you will break. That crack will let it move on, to seep out and lead to growth. So bravely, breathe it in

Step Two: Breathe Out Exhale for a count of seven seconds joy, compassion, healing. Imagine a soothing warmth, or swirling technicolor clouds. Breathe out your hopes, best wishes, prayers, dreams, with crystal clear clarity. Feel the lightness of compassion, faith breaking through the old scars of pain, cracking hardened fears, opening to letting your highest self shine through. Share that warm soothing love with your heart’s smile as you breath out your best intentions for yourself, your loved ones, for the planet and cosmos!


Repeat for five minutes. Let each inhale sink in deeper, let each exhale expand light, warmth and joy through your whole being. It will take a few breaths to get into it but let go and keep your intentions focused. Trust me, you will feel better. More open to your own healing. More compassion for those who also suffer.

Breathe in for all of us, breathe out for all of us.