Open Hearted Tonglen

In my coaching practice, Open Hearted Tonglen is one of the most powerful and effective coaching tools that I teach clients. The process is simple, and the results are extraordinary. 

What is Tonglen?

Simply said, Tonglen is about awakening our compassion by connecting with our breath and using it to transform the energy of suffering into loving and empathetic light. While there are many variations of Tonglen, this is the Open Hearted approach.

Rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, Tonglen is Tibetan for 'giving and taking.’ Tong means "giving or sending", and len means "receiving or taking.”  

Open Hearted Tonglen (OH)

Open Hearted Tonglen focuses on recognizing that we all suffer. For many of us, our tendency is to avoid feeling our pain, letting it fester within us. This leads to negativity, depletion, and feeling stuck. Tonglen is a method used for overcoming fear and anxiety, giving us the opportunity to change our attitude towards pain and suffering, dissolving it within ourselves and others.


In OH Tonglen, we open our heart to the pain or suffering of ourselves or someone else. While focusing on our in-breath, we visualize taking that pain into our heart. With our exhale, we imagine spreading a compassion filled light that radiates warmth and clarity. We embrace ourselves (or someone we are focusing on) with gentle, soft, understanding energy. This peaceful energy continues to expand. 

I often use the visual of a rock tumbler with my clients to describe the “toggling” or tumbling” of the energy in our heart center. The raw rock, (the in-breath of pain) is tumbled, resulting in a beautiful, polished stone with the out-breath. I envision this compassion flowing as a soft pink energy, like pink rose quartz, radiating from my core. As the vibration grows wider, it fills my entire body and mind.

The Benefits of OH Tonglen

As we take in the suffering and negative energy, we transform it into a lighter energy. As we breathe out, we visualize sending out positive, tranquil energy, creating a greater sense of peace and ease in our everyday lives.