Let me start by saying this post is ultimately about breathing and compassion. So if you’re holding your breath or withholding compassion from yourself or anyone else, take a moment right now to kindly and mindfully fill your lungs.
And now a question: does anyone else out there feel exceptionally full in heart and mind and spirit?
I find myself tuning in each morning to NPR, watching Facebook for updates from my friend Bob in Japan, as well as on the continuing shared horror over the gang rape of an eleven year old girl in Texas and the deeply disheartening response to that, and looking online at news on all that’s happening in Libya and elsewhere.
And with each new bit of information, I feel more paralyzed, like I’m sinking into quicksand and unable to do anything about it.
Last year, in the midst of personal grief, my kind friend and acupuncturist Kate mailed me an article on the practice of tonglen, basically a way to breathe into suffering, our own or that of others, becoming compassionately aware of it, and then breathing out relief to all who need it. I found it to be profoundly healing and helpful for me to move forward, moment by moment.
For a more thorough description of and guide to this practice, I’m linking to an article on Tonglen by Pema Chodron. As a little glimpse of what she writes: “The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering–ours and thatwhich is all around us–everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method of awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be.”
Below is a picture I found on a great site (morguefile.com) of freely shared photos. In closing this entry, with compassion from me to you, a heart shaped cactus seems appropriate–something blooming in the desert, images of love and pain together.
Shall we breathe together?