When people in our lives go through times that are excruciatingly difficult, it is normal to feel powerless.
We can’t grieve for them and sometimes we can’t even make them feel better. When you truly love a friend, it’s as if you can feel their pain directly.
Empathy means “feeling into” as opposed to sympathy’s “feeling with.” This meditation known as Tonglen is a method of connecting with suffering.
We can’t speed up the process of healing, either for ourselves or anyone else, but we can open ourselves up to the fact that pain itself can be a transformative tool.
The next time you feel struck by someone’s suffering, don’t try to blow over the sensation of tightness in the heart. Try this very simple and profound breathing practice that, as Pema Chodron says, “goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together.”
Take a breath in and imagine that you are taking some of the person’s pain directly.
Take a breath out and imagine sending that person what you feel they need, whether it is physical or emotional relief. Breathe in this way for some time.
After at least a couple of minutes, feel the connection, not only between you and this person but also between you and everyone who has ever had this feeling.
For anyone who has suffered and will suffer. For the fact that we can accept life, just as it is, and hold each other up when we need it the most.
Open your eyes and feel yourself exude compassion.