7. Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath.
This slogan refers to the practice of Tonglen (literally “sending and taking”), a formal meditation practice. Tonglen is a revolutionary practice of exchanging self for others; in Pema Chödrön’s words it “reverses the logic of ego.” My typical, habitual response to suffering and pain is to turn (or run!) away from it. Likewise, when I experience joy or satisfaction I habitually want to keep it to myself, if not eat it whole.
In the practice of Tonglen, however, I am instructed to take in pain and send out relief! What a strange idea in our conditioned culture of self-promotion at the expense of others.
To view written Tonglen instructions, download this document.