Pema Chodron: How to do Tonglen, a meditation practice for difficult times.

Via on Sep 23, 2008

Tonglen, a simple yet counter-intuitive meditation practice for tough times. Reverse the flow of ego:

1463634_10153593468945246_667043481_nThis post now appears on Huffington Post. Support Pema’s message of tonglen and meditation getting out to the American masses by leaving a comment here.

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In times of things falling apart, duress, heartbreak, stress…a meditation practice to baitswitch our silly crazy mopey ego and engender happiness, compassion, equanimity.

I grew up knowing Pema Chodron (the second most popular Buddhist in America, after that Dalai Lama guy). Or, rather, she knew me (I was just a little kid running around not paying attention to anything). My first memory of her is at Whittier Elementary in Boulder, Colorado, where I attended kindergarten. She and my momma were, and are friends.

As I grew up, I got to know her a little (doing service shifts at her cabin at Shambhala Mountain in 1992, where she helped Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche teach his first Seminary) and was always struck at how strong and powerful this kindly, small woman was—what a leader.

Everyone knows she’s sweet (that voice!). But seeing her on Bill Moyers, not even nervous or blinking, then doing the same thing with Oprah—well I realized again and again that this woman knows exactly who she is, and what is what.

These days, I still know her a little bit, though I only rarely see her (recently saw her a little at the Karmapa’s first visit to America).

Here (below) she talks about tonglen practice, one of the fundamental meditation practices of Buddhism as taught by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It’s great for doing if a loved one is dying, or your mind is in particular tumult…you can learn how to do it from her books or at your local Shambhala Center, it’s easy to learn and actually very practical, powerful and easy to do. Video (or, click here to check out her and Oprah’s conversation).

It’s good to set the stage by meditating (click here for Trungpa’s classic instruction) for a few minutes before, and after, your tonglen practice—so that you don’t hold onto the black/hot/heavy inbreath or the white/cool/bright outbreath (you’ll know what I mean when you watch the below videos).

It’s great to see a younger Pema surrounded by the traditional Shambhala Buddhist/Eastern TigerLionGaruda and Dragon banners in the below videos:


Bonus: Gampo Abbey video.

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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62 Responses to “Pema Chodron: How to do Tonglen, a meditation practice for difficult times.”

  1. onlinemoon says:

    Thank you for given credit to the Indian monnik Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana. Nowadays American yogis act as if yoga and meditation is their invention.

  2. [...] all blames into one”—can you recommend any readings re: narcissists and how to approach tonglen with those who repeatedly cause harm to others (and one’s [...]

  3. It was nice to read the complete blog post. I like the way you explain things.

  4. I love the way you have described all this. I have been searching for this information and now I found it. Thanks and keep posting new things.

  5. [...] Click here for two five-minute videos on practicing a style of meditation for troubled times. [...]

  6. Nice then doing the same thing with Oprah—well I realized agai

  7. Solavei says:

    The world has never needed meditation and kindness more than now.

  8. Mark says:

    I found Pema Chodron at a critical time in my life. Her thoughts in her books (sep: The Wisdom of No Escape) changed my life. What a wonderful human. And, she has done a great job of staying humble and thus, effective. I love Pema.

  9. Clara says:

    I enjoyed her videos very much! Will look for more. Thank you for the post.

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