Atisha’s Heart Meditation

The Heart Meditation comes from the Buddhist Master Atisha and is based on the same principles as the Buddhist practice of Tonglen.

It helps us stay fully present with feelings and contractions without having to carry it around; without grasping or resisting what is happening. It cultivates compassion and the capacity to allow feelings to flow through without them getting stuck.  

You can practice this meditation alone with eyes closed and also throughout your day as you interact with others. It is a practical tool to stay with an open heart in the midst of any experience.

:: This version of Atisha’s Heart Meditation is by Arjuna Ardagh:

Allow your breath to move gently in and out of the middle of your chest, enlivening the center of the chest.

Imagine that there is an open window in the middle of your chest, an open window into the vast sky of the heart, an open window into consciousness.

As the in-breath moves through the open window of your heart, you can breathe in whatever is here in this moment, allowing it to dissolve back into the source of all. If you’re noticing thoughts, allow them to ride the in-breath, to be absorbed into the open window of the heart and to dissolve back into the vast sky of consciousness as a drop dissolving back into the ocean.

You can allow this quality of presence and love to ride on the out-breath and to bless the world around you. You can do the same with feelings and body sensations. Allow them all to ride on the in-breath and to be absorbed back into the open window of the heart, dissolving into the source of all. On the out-breath, allow blessings to ride out, blessing your surroundings.

As this becomes easier and more natural for you to do, you can now expand your awareness to include other people’s feelings and thoughts and body sensations, absorbing them all in through the open window of your heart and allowing blessings to ride on the out-breath.

Keep on expanding, breathing in all suffering, all pain and all misunderstanding, just breathing it into the alchemy of the heart, allowing it all to be transformed, and breathing out blessings.

You can even expand your awareness to include the whole earth, starting with your town, country, and continent and expanding until you can feel the whole earth and all beings from all times with their hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows, fear and anger; and just breath it all in. Then breathe out blessings.
You can do this for a short time in the morning or evening, but it is also a way of meeting each moment.