Day 351 – Tonglen


Zencast 348 – Knowing the Mind, Training the Mind, Freeing the Mind

I admit it. I’m guilty of trying every training under the sun and then abandoning it after a few days, weeks, months, and moving onto something else. I always think that ‘this’ one will ‘be the answer’ to the problems I’m experiencing in life. Yet, I know that if I just sat every morning and night I could deal with a lot of these problems much more easily and consistently than switching practices all the time allows.

Lately, I’ve been dealing with a lot of clinging, wanting, passion and neediness. This reverts to anger and aversion when I don’t get what I want. The struggle then is to prevent the neutrality that follows, which may sound good, but is ultimately just another way of closing myself down so I don’t get hurt.

So, I’ve started practicing Tonglen. Yes, yet another technique I think will solve these issues. And it could very well end up being another practice I give up and forget about. However, the great thing is that for now it is working. Most every time I feel that clinging rising up, before it can get into aversion I breathe in the black, sooty, hot mess of my emotions and I breathe out the cool, open, calm white space of my out breath.

I had been drinking Dr. Pepper. I was eating bowls of chocolate cereal. I tried turning on the TV. But the emotions just kept coming in waves and I realized, with the help of Pema Chödrn and Thich Nhat Hanh, that I’m simply running from my problems rather than finding solutions.

And I need a solution. I really do. I need to move forward with my practice. That’s why I’m sitting morning and night (when I don’t forget). I’m writing in my gratitude journey nightly. I’m talking with the universe after I meditate and I’m working hard to get out there and make life happen for myself when there have been times that I used to simply crawl up in a ball, reach for the remote and eat and drink myself to sleep.

Thankfully, I came to understand that these problems that arise in my life are only problems if I allow myself to retreat, to hide, to escape from them. The real juice is in getting up and living no matter if I find myself on the brink of tears several times throughout the day.

I know that these vulnerabilities and weaknesses, these aspects of myself that are sticky and icky will eventually pass, until something else occurs to bring them all up again. What I need is the tools to help get through them without preventing myself from living. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and it’s simply just not worth going through again.

It also keeps me from my life’s purpose and from the joy that is always out there for me to grab.

So, right now I may be breathing in black and white, but I’m working really hard to keep my heart open, my thoughts in The Middle Way and my butt in my seat morning and night. I’m really hoping that this time, this ‘one’, this practice will stick.



4 Responses to “Day 351 – Tonglen”
  1. Donna B says:

    Perfect description of living each day and moment without unhealthy addiction….thats my gratitude!

  2. Pamela says:

    You are so aware and wise. I am continually inspired by you!!!

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