Mounting Taking and Giving Upon the Breath
The meditations on both taking suffering and giving love can be powerful and helpful, but doing both in conjunction with the breath is even more so. Our minds have a very close relationship to our inner energy winds, and when we practice taking and giving mounted upon the breath, the inhale and the exhale, we are working to control our inner energy winds. As a result of controlling our inner winds, we also control our mind. Here is a brief description of the meditation:
We start by taking others’ suffering by imagining that we are breathing in their suffering, which appears in the form of black smoke, on each inhale. This smoke descends to our heart center, where it destroys our self-cherishing mind. Then, we hold our breath and think, “now all living beings are freed from suffering and my negative karma and self-cherishing mind are completely purified.” On each exhale, we imagine that we breathe out rays of light, the essence of our happiness, upon these suffering beings and think, “I am giving my happiness and good qualities to all living beings.” After doing this for several breaths, we develop the conviction that all living beings experience pure happiness as a result of our meditation practice, and rejoice.
After we become familiar with this practice during the meditation session, we can do it anytime, anywhere. With enough practice, even our ordinary breath, even while asleep, will be transformed into the practice of taking and giving. This is also an especially good meditation to do while we are sick. When we get sick, we can think about all the other beings with the same illness and develop compassion for their suffering, then make the decision to take their illness and release them from that suffering through taking and giving practice.