The Buddhist term bodhicitta in Sanskrit means the awakened heart and mind. “Citta” is translated as consciousness of heart and mind; “bodhi” means awaken.
Sometimes we can mistake our meditation practice as a tool to fix our self. What we’re really doing in is learning to accept what is – and fully FEEL – what is true.
For me, the path of botticitta is the willingness to be open to what’s difficult – a willingness to touch all those raw nerves that makes us fully alive. That takes a lot of heart.
My wife’s family come from a long line of Buddhist monks. I’m often reminded by our Aunt June, that in most Asian cultures the word for mind and heart is the same. So, I invite you to think of mindfulness and hart-fulness together, as one. I know it helps me add in that feeling of true compassion for my self and gives me more freedom to be with what is.
So, we can use Tonglen as “the middle way” – to be with – the act of compassion. It’s kind of like we are learning to put down our armor. If we give up our resistance – if we feel the pain, the fear, the love – our defenses and story will start to fall down. We really see that the only way to open… is to listen.
With Tonglen, we’re learning to say, “Ok, there’s the pain. Can I let go of my resistance and just let myself feel fully what’s true here?”.
We learn to breathe in with Tonglen and just open ourselves to be touched by the pain. Then, we learn to breathe out and sense that wide open space that can hold it all. So there’s breathing in and being touched by the pain, breathing out and letting go into that love, that heart-fulness, that wide openness.
In my friend Kevan Gale‘s guided Tonglen meditation below, we sense our own pain, our own suffering and then other’s – and we breathe with that but then we open it and widen our circle, so that we’re breathing for all of those beings that have that same experience of suffering as we do.
It takes courage and heart to let go of this resistance and be willing to sit with what’s here. It takes compassion to get under our storyline, our drama and notice what it feels like in your body – because as I said last night – that wounded feeling, that shakiness, those feelings that we tend to push away can feel “pretty crappy” the first few thousand times we choose to feel them.
I hope this helps!
10 Minute Guided Meditation with Kevan Gale of Stil Studio (this session was recorded live during class)