Reflection on Spring Healing
As the snow and ice recede in the springtime, sometimes it can reveal things that we have not seen all winter. Garbage, dog poop, broken sidewalks or roads are all hidden until the spring when we become aware of opportunities for cleaning and mending. I suggest that we can become more aware of healing opportunities similarly in the spring when we peel off our layers, both physical and metaphysical and take stock of how we have weathered the winter. Think about what needs healing in yourself, in others and in the world at this time.
Tonglen practice is a Buddhist technique to help heal ourselves and others through breathing in suffering and breathing out healing, breathing in darkness and breathing out light, breathing in negative energy and breathing out positive energy. Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron describes in this way: “Tonglen practice, also known as “taking and sending,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age- old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.”
So as we walk the labyrinth this Equinox, let us visualize the walk into the centre as the ‘breath in’ for the Tonglen practice and the walk back out as the ‘breath out’ in the practice. As we walk in, we gather all the suffering of those we care about into ourselves, and as we walk out, we release the healing energy we want to give them back. Pay attention to your breathing as you walk as well, doing the same practice with the in and out breath.
Lord, look upon me with eyes of mercy. May Your healing hand rest upon me, May Your life-giving powers flow into every cell of my body And into the depths of my soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring me To wholeness and strength for service in Your Kingdom.
By Natalie Henrick, PhD