In a world drowning in so much pain, suffering and injustice –us everyday humans who have no great influence, power, or platform, we can at times feel hopeless and overwhelmed at the state of things. Truth is, when the problems are big and out of our control, we as a single individual have little resources to contribute to meaningful and positive change. Doing todays compassion meditation is one way we can all contribute positively to change – it is one way we can all make a positive difference to the world we live in.

It is also a meditation that can be directed closer to home – whether that be to someone you know who is in pain or maybe it is yourself.

Today we are going to do an Extending Compassion Meditation —it is a meditation that is inspired by Tonglen, a Buddhist practice of “giving and taking or sending and receiving.” More specifically, this practice involves consciously breathing in the pain and suffering of yourself and others and on the exhale, sending space, compassion and healing to yourself and others.

This compassion meditation, has the power to open our heart and deepen our love and compassion for ourselves and the world around us. By embracing, rather than rejecting, the unwanted and painful aspects of human experience, we can overcome fear, learn how to balance both pain and suffering while cultivating greater empathy for others.

This extending compassion practice may feel scary, after all the thought of taking on extra pain and suffering can be worrying for most.

That said, people have been practicing the compassion meditation or tonglen for more than a thousand years and there is growing evidence to show that it can lessen anxiety, create peace of mind, and foster an increased sense of connection to others.

The one problem you might face is that you feel too much emotion when facing other people’s suffering. If this happens, meditate on less serious issues and situations of pain.

Today’s practice can help reduce the stress of larger problems in the world like Covid-19, war and systemic racism. It is also a remedy that can snap us out of our own self-entitlement and self-centredness and remind us of our shared suffering, our shared humanity, and our shared capacity to change and overcome problems.

Find a comfortable position either laying down or sitting up. Get yourself comfortable with eye-pillows, blankets, cushions, and bolsters. Set up your space with intention. You may like to light a candle or burn an incense. Maybe hold in your hand your favourite crystal. Today I am sitting up on my meditation cushion and have a hand-made blanket that is deeply sentimental to me draped over my shoulders. I am burning a eucalyptus and sage candle. In my hand I am holding my rose quartz crystal – the crystal of the heart and deep unconditional love.

A few moments ago, before I joined you I cleansed my space with a smoking ceremony.

I will give you a few moments to set up your space and settle in.

 

 

TRANSCRIPT

Close your eyes

Take a long slow deep breath in – feeling the weight of your body contact the ground below you.

Relax the forehead, jaw, and neck
Take another breath in
As you exhale let the shoulders drop and relax.
Allow your belly to soften
Breathing into your heart space. Allow the chest, belly, thighs, and calves to soften and relax
Inhaling deeply – exhaling completely
Invite yourself to soften, expand and allow
Spend a few moments here following the breath and softening the mind and body.

Allow yourself to relax and settle into this moment. You are here and present, gently following the sound of my voice and the words I speak

Take a moment to set your intention to invite in feelings of suffering and to remain present with it. If this is your first extending compassion meditation – don’t worry, you will only be focusing on something that you can handle.

The breath grounds you. The breath protects you. The breath strengthens your resilience to pain and suffering.

Envision a pink bubble around you. This is your safe space. If anything comes up that you don’t feel able to handle in that moment, you may simply return to your breath and invite the breath to soften and dissolve any intensity of emotions.

Together we will take another minute or two to connect with a deeper state of calm, simply observing, and tuning in to our own awareness.

Let us connect with a sense of compassion. To do so, you might bring your attention to the softness of your heart or evoke a memory that makes you feel warm and fuzzy – something simple like a playful puppy, witnessing an act of kindness, or maybe a child’s smile.

Breathing in -invite the warm feeling of compassion to pierce and permeate your heart. Allow the compassion to fill your heart, your entire being and the room around you.

Tuning inwards, reflect and sense if there's any part of yourself that is asking for healing attention. Any place where you've been feeling stuck, you feel like you've contracted or
maybe become reactive.

Could it be that you suffer anxiety, depression, grief, anger, physical pain?

Find something that you'd like to bring the healing presence of compassion and healing to.

Whatever personal pain or suffering you might be dealing with in your life, know that “other people feel this too.” You are not alone.

Healing begins with the realisation that there are millions of others just like you, who at that very moment are feeling the same pain or sadness.

Millions of other people feeling exactly how you do, dealing with similar challenges, and having to find resilience and peace within the dark clouds of pain and suffering.

Imagine yourself and these millions of people in a circle holding hands. You are all together, all feeling the same pain and suffering. Visualise the suffering as a dark, heavy cloud surrounding you all.

Move your awareness to your heart space and breathe in deeply, imagining yourself inhaling those dark, heavy, uncomfortable, cloudy feelings, directly into your heart.

Breathe in all the pain and suffering of what you are feeling. Breathe in all the pain and suffering of those people who are dealing with that same emotion you are,

As you breathe in the darkness and pain, your breath may feel heavy, grainy, slow. Breathing in the grit, the rawness and vulnerability of the world. You have a willingness to breathe in the hard stuff of life – breathing in substance and honesty

As you breathe out from the heart space, imagine that your heart is a source of golden, warm, compassionate light, and you are breathing that light out and into everyone in your circle who are experiencing the same pain and suffering as you. Let the golden, warm, compassionate light permeate every cell of your being – let it permeate everyone in your circle.

Breathing in deeply - Imagine that the dark cloudy feelings of suffering are fading as they are being drawn down into the light of your heart; the dark cloud of suffering is transforming into a golden, warm light at the centre of your heart, alleviating the pain and suffering.

Exhaling completely - breathe out relief, and “space” for sufferers’ hearts and minds to be able to live with their discomfort, fear, anguish, pain, or suffering.

Breathing in - inhale compassion for yourself and others and then exhale loving, healing energy to yourself and to them.

Next, try expanding your compassion further outward. Visualize a person or being that you would like to help. It could be a loved one. Or maybe it is someone you have never met – it could be someone you have seen on tv, a vulnerable person from a minority group, an animal, it could even be someone in a particular town or country, maybe it is something in nature or on the planet. Imagine seeing this person, being or place in your mind.
Let’s make the taking in and sending out bigger – more impactful. Whoever or whatever you are visualising in your mind to send love, light, and relief of suffering to, extend it out to all those people, beings and places that are in the same situation.

Visualise a dark, heavy cloud of pain and suffering hovering over whoever and whatever you are visualising.

Inhaling. Being mindful of the energy of pain that you observe and are willing to absorb. You notice a heavy, dark, dampening energy. Bring to mind the way in which they are suffering. Visualize being in their position. Breathe in their pain so you are taking the suffering out of them and into yourself.

Breathing in deeply – continue to breathe in all the pain and suffering. Allow yourself to feel the pain and suffering. Acknowledge the pain and suffering. With each in breath imagine inhaling the cloudy, dark feelings away from them and into your own heart. With each breath in – you are cleansing and lightening their burden.

As you breathe in the darkness and pain, your breath may feel heavy, grainy, slow. Breathing in the grit, the rawness and vulnerability of the world. You have a willingness to breathe in the hard stuff of life – breathing in substance and honesty

Take a couple of breathes here to ground yourself. Remind yourself you are strong and have the resilience to support those in pain. You have the ability to balance both joy and suffering in your heart

Gently exhaling, connect the breath with intent. Breathe out from the heart space, imagine that your heart is a source of golden, warm, compassionate light, and you are breathing that light outward. The golden, warm, compassionate light permeates every cell of their being – it also permeates every cell in your body.

Breathe peace, justice, and happiness into the world. Visualize sending whatever it is that is needed to ease suffering. Breathe healing energy out into the world.

Breathing in deeply - Imagine that the dark cloudy feelings of suffering are fading as they are being drawn down into the light of your heart; the dark cloud of suffering is transforming into a golden, warm light at the centre of your heart, alleviating the pain and suffering.

Exhaling completely - breathe out relief, and “space” for sufferers’ hearts and minds to be able to survive their pain and suffering.

Exhaling – send out a stream of warm, golden healing light. Exhale support and love. Exhale positivity and hope. Exhale light, compassion, and strength.
.
Breathing in – draw in any final dark clouds. As the dark feelings enter your heart, imagine that they are disappearing without a trace into the light of your compassionate heart.
Visualise all being surrounded and permeated by the calm and comforting light that you are breathing out from your heart.


Breathing in deeply – resting in this space of compassion and loving awareness.


Bring your hands together in prayer in front of your heart space.

Let us close this meditation with the offering of compassion to people everywhere, to all forms of life, without limit, without exception

May all beings be free of pain and suffering. May all be well and happy. May there be peace, compassion, and unity between all beings.

Let us bow our head towards the tips of our fingers and seal the sacred container of today’s compassion practice. The light that resides inside me bows to the light that resides inside you. Let the good in me salute to the good in you. Namaste.


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