Tonglen

Last Tuesday I was able to go to the Meditation Sangha that I haven’t been able to go to for months because of work obligations.

In about a two-hour span I learned three things about letting go:

1. Let Go of Timing – Everything Happens In Its Own Time & Space

The Sangha starts at 7:00 p.m.  I got there at 6:45 p.m. so I wouldn’t feel rushed.  When I got to the parking lot there were about 10 cars there.  Usually there are about 4-5 people who come and go to the Sangha as I recalled. There was a “free” yoga class going on when I got to the meeting room.  Some of those people stayed for meditation and new people came after yoga was over.

It ended up being about 13 people in class.  Those who I remembered from when I’d come last  (about a year ago) welcomed me back.  I mentioned how the Sangha had grown and Darla, the creator of the group, told me that it started out with three (3) regulars and it has taken 10 years to grow to 10 regulars who come on a weekly basis.  I found that truly amazing.  The length of time it takes for something to grow and be sustainable.

That helped me learn to let go of the panic I was beginning to feel about no one registering for The Black Folder Project Workshop.  I just let go of thinking it had to be an immediate hit and was instantly alright with letting happen how I always knew I wanted things to go with the Project – organic – just let those who need to come – come. It might take 10 years for me to get 10 people in a workshop…who knows…but that is okay…so that was my first lesson in letting go.

2. TONGLEN

I didn’t remember Darla giving instructions for meditating or techniques that one could use while meditating.   Darla usually just recapped the process of how things would go for the hour:

She’d light incense, a candle, read a passage from a book, we’d do 20 minute sitting meditation, then 10 minute walking meditation (which she explained the how and why of that),15 minutes back to sitting and then you could stay for 30 minutes longer for the optional reading and discussing an ongoing book the Sangha was reading.

This time though she mentioned something I’d never heard of  called TonglenTonglen.  It turns out that it’s an EASIER way for me to practice compassion or Metta Meditation.  I had been doing Metta Meditation for some time,  but it can be laborious going through all the steps and different people who are in your life.

Tonglen is easier because you can just use one person.  You breathe in the pain they are probably feeling or you think they are feeling and breathe out relief for that pain.

Tonglen is about taking and sending or Letting Go to Let Come!

It was as though this practice connected some dots for me.

The pain that you see that’s  all around you is the same pain that is inside of yourself.  It is inside of others as well, so it teaches you to learn to embrace it and “feel” it in your body.  Breathe into it.  Identify it if you can, but sometimes you can’t even identify the pain.  It allows you to embrace both pain and joy which in really a more mature way of  thinking about co-creating our future.

Pain and Pleasure – Two Sides of The Same Coin

The example that brings this home to me is an example of a battery.   You have the positive and the negative charge or the battery can not work.  You have to have both.  So, you can’t just want joy and bliss all the time in your life because that is not realistic.  You have to embrace both the painful feelings/experiences and the joyful feelings/experiences and just allow them to happen.  Don’t fight against the painful things.  The key is how you react to everything that makes the difference of if you will continue to grow and mature.

The Breath and The Pause

The more I meditate and research letting go to let come the more I keep coming back to the breath.  Somehow you can not escape the breath.  Breathing in and breathing out is the easy part, it happens naturally, but it’s in the pause between the “out” breath and the next “in” breath that you find the answers, but you have to recognize that.

Breathing “out” is like letting go, then you have the pause (or the tunnel as I call it) and then the letting come  – or the next “in” breath.

The letting come is right after the pause or the silence which is ever-present.  Call it what you want – God, Universal Mind, The Source –  I just call it the ever-present silence that underlies everything — back into which it comes and goes –it’s always there.  You just have to trust that pause.  You have to trust that everything will be okay during and after the pause.  You can’t get to the “in” breath or letting come unless you go through that pause/tunnel/eye of the needle/presence/God.

3. Ask Yourself Why First – Then Do Something You’ve Never Done Just for the Experience

I had never ever stayed for the readings after the meditation period, so I questioned myself as to why.  Several things came up: 1 I don’t feel like reading after meditating, 2.  I don’t feel like pulling out my reading glasses, 3.  I really don’t want to talk and get people to “really” know me unless I want to, nor do I want to “really” know what’s inside of  others unless I want to.  I just wanted to meditate and leave.  After I asked those questions of myself and heard the answers, I just let all of that go and decided that I would stay and see what it was about – why not – just have the experience.

Actually no one had to read.  Darla had brought her laptop and the book was online, yet most had a copy of the book and silently read along. So I didn’t have to read or have my reading glasses.  After the reading from a book by Pema Chodron people went around and started talking about what was important to them from the reading.

I had already decided that I would just listen and observe, unless someone asked me to say something.  MOST everyone was talking about letting go of something…letting go of control, letting go of not paying attention, letting go of stress, ect…

I don’t think I’ll need to stay for the reading next time, but I was glad I did on that day. I let go of whatever was holding me back from staying and just having that experience.  You can not KNOW until you experience it.  You can imagine, you can wonder, someone can tell you about it, but you can’t really KNOW…so now I KNOW.  The lesson is to get beyond just downloading what you think something is about and HAVE EXPERIENCES.  Life is about experiences…so…experience it!