Tong-len is a Tibetan form of Buddhist meditation; the words mean “giving and receiving” . In Tong-len meditation, breathing becomes a way of exploring feelings of altruism and compassion. On the in-breath, the person meditating considers mankind’s hurt and suffering, and then on the outbreath, the feelings of compassion that he or she feels. The meditation is inclusive, and all sentient beings are embraced through it.

Although extremely simple in form — it feels like being part of a tidal movement of ebbing and flowing — the experience deepens with regular practice. As with all meditation, intense concentration is required, but it should not be “forced” — the paradox of effortless effort is at the heart of meditation.



Recently I described my feelings as those of being discombobulated. It described my feeling of dislocation, as if not all bits of my mind and body were aligned, or even in the same place. Looking online, I found the word means in a transitive sense, “to embarrass” or “to upset”. The word is mock-Latin and apparently there was a trend for a raft of similar pseudo-erudite but entirely fanciful words in the late 1800s.