Tonglen Meditation Practice for Refugees

Tonglen Practice is a warrior practice for those who are seeking peace, tenderness and kindness within this world. 

  • Tong – giving or sending. 
  • Len – receiving or taking. 

It is also known as exchanging self with other. It is the aspirational precept to the path of the Bodhicitta, the seeker towards a mind that is awakened, enlightened by compassion, empathy and kindness towards all sentient beings. 

The practice involves breathwork which, at its most basic follows this pattern-

  • Inhale others pain and suffering 
  • then offer them, on the exhale, peace and loving-kindness. 
  • Inhale their physical discomfort and mental anguish 
  • Exhale for them to be free from it. 

This practice reduces attachments that keep us stuck in our own cycle of pain, suffering and limited beliefs of existence. It reduces the separateness of us and others and gets us out of our own ego-centric focus on what we lack or what limits us. By giving, by sending and by energetically helping through a generous heart-felt thought, we develop and expand our capacity for kindness. 

This practice of Tonglen clears the lens of our perception and we begin to see that all deserve to be held by the wholeness of a loving presence.

For this practice I offer a timely focus which you can use at home. Please use an image of the refugees and asylum seekers from the photographer Muhammed Muheisen and support his ongoing mission to document those who are victims of war and who have fled their homes for safety. 

Thank you for your interest in this practice. I also would ask you to consider your support for Fierce Calm who are providing free yoga classes, directly or in partnership with non-profit organisations, in shelters and community spaces, for marginalised and vulnerable groups such as refugees, survivors of domestic violence, survivors of violence and conflict, and people facing systemic bias due to sexual orientation, income, age, racial or cultural identity. They also provide YTT scholarships for marginalised and/or minoritised ethnicity students in training delivered by teachers reflecting these identities. Ourmala provides scholarships to train refugees and marginalised students, trauma informed teaching skills. They lead the delivery of the OURMALA studio, community and online beneficiary yoga programme for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Facilitating classes with the objective to open the healing potential of yoga accessible to all, while supporting the most vulnerable in society within a diverse, welcoming environment of safety, inclusivity, dignity and empowerment. Social justice is at the heart of Fierce Calm’s yoga and they strive to remove all barriers to access so that all may lead happy, fulfilling and dignified lives. Click here TO DONATE TO FIERCE CALM

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Published on December 4, 2023