We have all been living with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for the past few weeks — and the weeks are quickly turning into months.
It is natural to look for comfort, relief, something to cheer us up. This is absolutely normal and valid but the truth is — and we see this writ large — we are not in control of the things that scare us. We can’t elude or avoid the difficult situations we face. And trying to ignore or bury our feelings just creates more anxiety.
The wonderful Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chodron offers another approach to finding peace amidst fear — a meditation called tonglen. She shares a talk about how to practice tonglen on her website.
Tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering – our own and that which is all around us, everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming our fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our hearts. Primarily, it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us. This talk by Pema Chödrön consists of the basic tonglen instructions and guided tonglen practice.
This talk is well worth listening too, even if you don’t have time or interest in a new meditation practice. She offers a straightforward shift in perspective — that instead of running from our fears, we can turn towards them with openness. When you do this, she explains, the fear(s) lose control. They can’t push you around in the same way.
Chodron offers a refreshingly realistic, humble, undramatic way to change our mindset and find another way to walk this path before us.