As we head into the remaining bits of 2015, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past year. This year has felt particularly challenging not just for me, but also for lots of people in my circles.
Speaking for myself, it’s been a year of (sometimes tumultuous) transition as I consciously chose to scale back certain parts of my business to better honor my overall health and well-being while still providing as much value and service as my team and I can do.
For folks in both my personal and professional life, it’s been a roller coaster of tough times from the loss of loved ones, major surgeries, health issues, tragic accidents, job loss/transitions, relocations, and the like – more so than past years it seems.
Not to mention all of the hardships going on at a more global level.
This is not to be a Debbie Downer. Rather, it’s a call for more awareness, compassion, and transformation.
How has this year been for you?
If you’ve had an especially challenging time, I’d love to share with you a practice that I’m just starting to do more of. I’m a total novice AND it’s still helping to shift things for me. And hey, if you’ve had an exceptionally peachy keen 2015 (so happy for you, btw!), then you’re primed to send some extra love and good juju to folks everywhere. Hooray!
One of the messages that really spoke to me when reading Pema Chodron’s wonderful book Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change was this concept of Tonglen.
You breathe in pain, suffering, fear, anger, and sadness from others. These could be individuals or groups of people who you know or don’t know, who are near or far. Tap into the collective ache and hurt.
Then use your out breath to transform all of that pain and difficulty into love, compassion, happiness, hope, ease, and peace. As you exhale, spread healing energy and positive emotions to the world at large.
You’ll probably start to notice an expansive feeling as you connect with something larger than yourself.
I must admit that as an Enneagram 4 I’m prone to getting all “woe-is-me” especially when I’m stressed or overwhelmed. What’s great about Tonglen meditation is it helps you move past your own crap and realize that we are all one.
You can watch a lovely short video excerpt from a talk Pema gave on Tonglen here. (If you’re short on time you can jump to minute 1:22 when she starts to describe the actual practice a bit more).
If this is a bit too woo woo for you, here’s an unexpected side benefit I’ve been finding in even just short bursts of Tonglen.
From a heart-centered entrepreneurial perspective, tapping into others’ pain is helping me develop a deeper sense of compassion and empathy for the pain points and predicaments that my clients and community are faced with. I know that sounds fairly basic and, if I’m being totally honest with myself, I also recognize that the more years that I’m in business the more easily I can let myself become jaded by and impatient with certain fundamental topics or questions. Perhaps you can relate? This practice helps me try to walk in others’ shoes and is quite humbling and informative.
So whaddya say? Want to give Tonglen a go? I’d love to hear what you discover!