One of the practices I have committed to over the years is now called “subtle activism”. Subtle activism involves any activity we undertake to support positive change that involves prayer, guided imagery, directing intentions to local or global situations, etc. One of the primary subtle activism practices I have used for many years is a Buddhist practice called Tonglen.
Tonglen is a process that invites us to breathe in our own suffering and that of countless others in our world, and then breathe out ease, comfort, peace. Through identifying the negativity and distress around us – recognizing that it is part of the human experience and, as such, not separate from us, along with the fact that many people are also experiencing exactly the suffering or negativity that is the focus of our meditation or experience right now – we diffuse some of the intensity of this suffering and chaos. In the Tonglen process, we breathe into the fire of love in our heart any suffering, distress of whatever kind, and then breathe out – through every pore, from our whole body and then out into the world – ease, calm, comfort, peace, compassion – whatever transforms the suffering we have taken in.