Practicing Tonglen Meditation In Times of Global Challenges

buddha sky mountains

We are in the midst of great upheaval and transformation. It can be challenging to navigate in a world that is so unsettled, with so much fear, anger, anxiety, and suffering. This is also the time that calls for those of us who consider ourselves to be helpers of humanity to step up and do the Work. There are a number of tools we have access to at all times, but the one that I find to be especially helpful is tonglen meditation.

What Is Tonglen Meditation?

Tonglen meditation comes to us from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The Tibetan word ‘tonglen’ means “giving and receiving.” This means that the meditation involves both output and input. What you are receiving is the suffering that everyone is experiencing right now. What you are giving is total compassion and energetic support to everyone and anyone who could use it (which is all of us). At its core, tonglen meditation raises the compassion we feel towards others, no matter who are they. It helps us develop the ability to help on a subtle and energetic level, using that powerful electromagnetic generator we call our heart, and bring more inner peace into the collective consciousness.

How to Practice Tonglen Meditation


When you practice this meditation, you should only do so until you feel you are able to. After all, there is a tremendous amount of suffering in the world, and feeling into all of that in order to transmute it can become overwhelming sometimes.

Here is how to practice tonglen meditation:

  1. Find somewhere quiet, where you will be undisturbed. Sit down comfortably, and close your eyes. Become still. Starting off, some long, deep breaths here can help.
  2. Awaken your heart-mind connection. Feel your energy field and consciousness expand, enjoying greater lucidity. You can use a loving memory to increase this expansion if you need some help.
  3. Now, it’s time to receive. Breathe in as much of the suffering in the world as you can, through every pore of your being. Feel the heat and heaviness of this energy.
  4. Now, it’s time to give. Breathe out pure, positive energy, through every pore of your being. Feel the coolness and lightness of this energy.
  5. Sync up the giving and receiving parts of this meditation with your in and out breaths.

Do It For One or Do It For All

It can be challenging to breathe in all the darkness that is within the collective. If you find it to be too much, you can focus on a single person instead. Identify someone who you really care about and want them to suffer less. Alternatively, you can focus on your own suffering. Whatever is plaguing you and causing discomfort within you, breathe it in. Then, transmute it using the internal alchemical process you can perform using compassion consciousness.

This is a powerful active meditation that will allow you to play a direct role in improving the collective situation humanity finds itself going through right now. I particularly like this meditation because it is a bit of shadow work and light work, ensuring there is a balance in our focus and attention. Both need to be looked at today if we are to individually and collectively evolve.

Practice tonglen meditation for the benefit of yourself, loved ones, and the whole of humanity. Yes, even people who you don’t like or leave a bad taste in your mouth when you think of them. Hear and feel the cries of the world, transmuting as much of that suffering as you can.