When the world, or your life, seems on fire, you may feel frustrated about how you can be more helpful and solution oriented. You may ask yourself:
How can I engage differently with the pain I see in my life, in those around me, and in our world?
What can I do to help?
I am happy to tell you unequivocally, we all have the ability to transform or transmute suffering, our own or others, through spiritual and energy alchemy practices.
Recently I taught an updated version (especially important for us extreme empaths) of an ancient contemplative practice in our Awakening Healer’s Collective that I felt was important to share more widely. But first…
What is Sacred or Spiritual Activism?
While there may be many definitions out there, being a sacred or spiritual activist to me means working to create a loving, sacred, just and sustainable world. A spiritual activist practices energy alchemy and empathy in word and deed as a way to transform consciousness and create beloved relationships and communities.
A spiritual activist practices love in action. To practice love means responding to others from a place of compassion and empathy and to see the embodiment of the sacred or divine in all beings. By “sacred” I mean seeing the inherent beauty, awe, wonder and amazement of the universe and the planet and enhancing our capacity to appreciate the sacred in and feel our sense of interconnectedness with the universe.
An Ancient Practice for Increasing Compassion
An ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice called Tonglen addresses this need to offer others assistance in times of need, as well as develop compassion and selflessness.
Tonglen is Tibetan for ‘giving and taking’ (or sending and receiving), and is also known as exchanging self with other. Grounded in the felt experience of radical interconnectedness, tonglen serves as a powerful tool for sacred activism in our everyday life.
Tonglen practice reverses our usual tendency of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. Instead, it enables practitioners to turn towards difficulty with awareness and loving-kindness, and offer health, well-being, and abundance wherever it is most needed.
This meditation practice is designed to help ordinary people connect with the openness and softness of our hearts. In the process, we become liberated from age-old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love and acceptance and caring for both ourselves and others.
Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness of “emptiness”. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being, and embrace challenges as the doorways for genuine connection to others.
The stated purpose of Tonglen has been to develop one’s own selfless and empathic qualities more than or at least as much as creating a real difference for others.
Kumari’s Tonglen 2.0 Version:
While the concept of sharing self with others, and taking action and response-ability for disharmony and tragedy in the world is admirable– for those who are already empathic and feel too much of others’ suffering, the practice of breathing in others pain may not be advisable without some additional energy alchemy techniques to help transmute the heaviness.
Soul-ution: ADD these 2 Energy Alchemy techniques so you are not “taking on” pain and suffering into your personal and tender heart center.
1) Expand Your Heart space to the Cosmic heart / Divine Mother’s Heart/Universal Heart etc.
Breathe out from your chest with the intent to expand into the Cosmic or Universal Heart. In this way, you can experience inviting in or holding space for pain, like a tiny drop of poison diluted in a vast ocean of love versus a tidal wave overwhelming your tender heart space. You may still be aware of the negativity, but you are now so much bigger and more divinely connected and powerful than any human mis-creations.
2) Violet Flame of St. Germaine: The Transmutational power of Source
Have you heard about the Violet Flame?
Spiritual teacher Patricia Cota-Robles explains: “This is a frequency of energy, vibration, and consciousness that is flowing into the mental and emotional strata of Earth through the all-encompassing Divine Matrix of our Father-Mother God. This Gift of Sacred Fire is flowing in, through, and around every particle of Life on Earth and it has the amazing ability to transmute into Light the negativity that is being pushed to the surface in our individual lives and in the lives of people who are suffering all over the world.
The catch is, that in order for this powerful Gift of Light to accomplish this mission the Sons and Daughters of God abiding on Earth must give it permission to do so. We have the gift of free will, and through the misuse of our thoughts, words, actions, feelings, and beliefs we have either deliberately or inadvertently created the maladies existing on Earth. This means that you and I and every other person on Earth are responsible for transmuting the pain and suffering we have created throughout our various Earthly sojourns.”
Visualize this Violet Flame and place into your Heart space. You can also expand it to encompass your whole being if needed. Ask the Violet Flame to transmute any of the energies you connect to and turn them into pure Lovelight, or highest radiance.
Now you are ready to do traditional Tonglen with more ease and grace:
3) TONGLEN MEDITATION:
a. Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, awakened heart-mind, or opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.
- Visualization. Work with sensation, colors or textures. Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness for example, and breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light. Breathe in deeply, taking in negative energy. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely. Do this until your visualization is synchronized with your in- and out-breaths.
- Focus on a Personal Situation. Focus on any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. Breathe in others sufferings or disharmony; breath out happiness or the antidotes of love, joy, harmony, well being, or whatever is needed.
However, if you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling yourself, and simultaneously for all those who feel the same kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling unworthy, breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat and send out confidence, adequacy, and relief in any form.
- Expand Your Reach. Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you care about, extend it out to all those who are in a similar situation. Make it bigger than just that one person.
As you do this practice, gradually at your own pace, you will be surprised to find yourself more and more able to be there for others, even in what used to seem like impossible situations.
Tonglen has no limits. As you do the practice, your compassion naturally expands over time, and so does your realization that things are not as solid as you thought, which is a glimpse of emptiness.
Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun and author summarizes Tonglen:
“In short, breathing in as fully as you can, radiating out as widely as you can.”
TIP: take a small pause after the in-breath to convert the suffering or disharmony to the positive antidote which is to be breathed out.
NOTE: Taking on suffering via Tonglen does not mean to burden oneself with the misery of the world, but rather to acknowledge its existence and accept it. I would add: with the understanding that we can TRANSMUTE it via energy alchemy.
This 3 fold practice makes it possible to increase one’s own peace of mind even while being receptive and taking suffering or disharmony in.
Is it possible to heal the world energetically?
The further quantum physicists peer into the nature of reality, the more evidence they are finding that everything is energy at the most fundamental levels.
Best-selling author Deepak Chopra, MD who penned 91 books including Quantum Healing explains it this way:
“The physical world, including our bodies, is a response of the observer. We create our bodies as we create the experience of our world… The subtler one’s awareness, the more powerfully it can heal.”
Even if you are not yet convinced you are able to help someone else with this practice, there is great benefit to releasing the emotional charge you may be holding around a person or a situation.
Try this transmutational tonglen 2.0 practice for yourself and let me know what opens up for you. In my 30+ years of energy healing and spiritual teaching, I echo Deepak Chopra’s belief:
“If you restore balance in your own self, you will be contributing immensely to the healing of the world.”