Tag Archives: Life

TIBETAN MEDICINE ~ A Lu Jong New York Learning Series – Part 3

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CONTINUING with our exploration of Tibetan Medicine …

When I teach LU JONG I explain the practice has its origins in the merging of three sources of wisdom: Tibetan Medicine, Bon, and Tibetan Buddhism.
I get many questions about Tibetan Medicine so why not, in the spirit of ‘Back to School’, take a brief look at what some of this is all about?

***Before we proceed any further I would like to clarify that I am NOT a doctor of Tibetan Medicine, nor do I diagnose and/or treat people in this area of expertise.My knowledge comes from what I have learned from my teacher and Root Lama, the venerable Tulku Lobsang Rinpoche, who IS a doctor of Tibetan Medicine in addition to being a high Tantrayana Buddhist master.

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THE THREE HUMORS (INTRO)

 
Having briefly touched upon how the Mind is the ‘behind the scenes’ power for the Body to exist, we move into the realm of the Three Humors as they are the basis of the theory and practice of Tibetan Medicine.

 
The humors are the vital substances of the body responsible for all bodily functions. They rule physiology, anatomy and morphology, regulate the functioning of the body, its organs, the brain, nerves, bones, blood circulation, lymphatic systems, digestion etc. The three humors also produce the temperament and quality of a person’s body and mind. In effect, they weave together the physical and subtle levels of the Body.

 

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The Three HumorsLung (Wind), Tripa (Bile) and Beken (Phlegm) carry both subtle and physical energies in and out of the body from birth to the end of life. They are also inherently delicate by nature and thus can easily become unbalanced. All diseases are described in terms of an imbalance of one or more of the humors.

Since the three humors are an integral part of our bodies, in Tibetan Medicine, it is said that we carry the seeds of disease within us. As soon as there is a cause and a condition, the unmanifested disease will become apparent.

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Taking this one step further … each humor is also linked to one of three mental poisons. When Tripa (Bile) is out of balance it causes anger, unbalanced Lung (Wind) causes attachment or grasping, and unbalanced Beken (Phlegm) creates delusion or ignorance. It is precisely this association that creates the link between imbalances of the mind/emotions and those of the body.

 
For example, if someone is always angry (bile), no matter what is done to treat the liver (gallbladder), if the anger is not addressed as well the liver will continue to ail. Healing the Body also means Healing the Mind.

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In sum … Balanced humors give positive health and harmony to the body/mind, and provide a good base for the development of the immune system. On the contrary, the loss of balance among the humors causes energy disharmony, either physical and/or mental disequilibrium, which may appear at any time and become the cause of diseases.

************* In the next installment we take a closer look at each of the three humors.

 

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Speech & Breath Training

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OM AH HUM Meditation

This brief mantra represents the transformative blessings of the Body, Speech & Mind of all the Buddhas. Mantra literally means ‘mind protection’.
With this mantra we request their blessings to purify our own Body, Speech & Mind.

Feel the vibrations as you chant. Feel the connection with your breath. This meditation is also very helpful for lengthening the breath as you calm the mind.

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PREPARATION

Sit comfortably and relax your body. Let your breath and energy flow naturally.
Relax your mind by letting go of any other thoughts. Don’t think “I’m meditating”, “I’m humble”, “I’m bad at this”. Don’t think anything – just BE.

Decide to keep your attention focused on the meditation for the duration of the session.

Close your eyes and envision a white OM at your third eye, a red AH at your throat, and a blue HUM at your heart.

PURIFICATION OF BODY

Concentrate on the white OM at your head and see it as the energy of the body of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Make the sound “OM” and recognize it as the sound of Universal energy, the representation of enlightenment.
Visualize a white light emanating from the syllable filling your entire body with radiant, white light energy cleansing and purifying you.
FEEL it as you continue making the sound “OM” several times.
When you stop, don’t do or think anything. Remain perfectly still, aware without expectation.

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PURIFICATION OF SPEECH

Concentrate on the red AH at your throat and see it as the pure speech of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Make the sound “AH” several times and recognize it as the energy of speech as you call forth the manifestation of enlightenment.
Visualize a radiant red light emanating from the syllable filling your body completely as impure elements are cleansed and purified.
Again, when done just sit and be. No need to interpret sensations.

There are two ways to meditate at this stage: One is to place strong awareness on the stillness of the mind. The other, when distractions arise, is to direct awareness of loving kindness upon yourself. You can alternate between the two.

Then, you visualize your loving kindness manifesting as a full moon at your heart.

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PURIFICATION OF MIND

At your heart, on the full moon, concentrate on the blue HUM and recognize it as the wisdom of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifesting enlightenment within your body.
Make the sound “HUM” several times and visualize a blue light from the moon and HUM emanating from your pure heart filling your whole body.
All indecision and narrow thoughts disappear, there is only a blissful sense of universal love and compassion.
FEEL and BE without expectations … allow your awareness to embrace all of universal reality.

Meditate like this for as long as you wish.

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CONCLUSION AND DEDICATION

There are two experiences we can achieve with this meditation: Wisdom and Method.
The Wisdom experience is the intense awareness of your own consciousness.
The Method experience comes when you get distracted, and use that as a resource to re-generate loving kindness.
When your concentration is good, place your attention on wisdom; when you are distracted, generate loving kindness (method).

Finish your meditation by dedicating the merit, or positive energy of this practice, to all sentient beings: May they too be free of suffering and its causes, and may they attain perfect peace and happiness.

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May all beings be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth and affection.
May they be protected from harm and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May all beings enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.

Summer Teaching in NYC by Tulku Lama Lobsang

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A great chance to attend a fascinating teaching in NYC

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TOWARD AN AWAKENED HEART

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I once read a quote that really stayed with me:

“…The conceit of self is challenged and eroded not only by the circumstances of our lives but also by our willingness to meet those circumstances with grace rather than with fear.”

When word spread in the village of a beloved teacher’s failing health and impending death, well wishers gathered to pay their last respects and to honor him. Streams of people extolled his kindness, patience, eloquence and compassion.

The Master listened and smiled weakly as the visitors seemed to go on for hours. Finally, his wife noticed he was growing restless and asked that he be allowed to rest. Turning to her husband, she asked what was bothering him remarking that such wonderful things were being said about him.

“Yes,” he replied “It was all wonderful … But did you notice that no one mentioned my humility?”

The ‘conceit of self’ is said to be the last of the great obstacles on the path to full awakening. Cleverly disguised as humility, empathy, or virtue, conceit can appear as feelings of being worse than, equal to, or better than others. This in turn gives rise to the messy and jumbled world of comparisons, judgements, jealousies and insecurities.

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Hmmm …

Superiority Conceit is easy to grasp: Basically, this is where we consider ourselves better or worthier than others – it builds upon our appearance and achievements.
Who hasn’t (even for a split second) noticed a fellow meditator shifting positions on their cushion as we congratulate ourselves for remaining stoically still?
Or how about that great story we are itching to share, the one that highlights some ‘wonderful’ personal achievement, or quality we possess, only to discover our audience couldn’t be less interested?
In its obvious form conceit displays as arrogance and self-righteousness. There are also more subtle versions such as the immutable belief in our ‘rightness’ – which in turn blocks our ability to receive criticism or to truly listen to another person.

Inferiority Conceit is one everyone can relate to: Feelings of unworthiness, of ‘not being good enough’, which have become a common aspect of our competitive culture.  Oddly this conceit also builds upon our appearance AND the mental laundry list we keep of all the mistakes we have ever made.
This is the domain of envy, resentment, fear and blame … further reinforcing our belief in an ‘imperfect’ self.
Moments of personal progress are ‘mistakes or flukes’, achievements are the prizes of the ‘more perfect’ others.
When we break out of this cycle of self-judgement we develop our self-confidence and can see that each person, in each moment, has an equal possibility for joy, the capacity for compassion, and a potential awakening on their path.

Equality Conceit is not subject to the Goldilocks Principle one would assume: Here we fall into the realm of mediocrity. Why bother? Don’t we all share the same flaws and delusions? There’s a lazy comfort with this outlook, ‘sameness’ means we don’t need to strive toward higher goals alone … “Misery loves Company”.
When we notice that someone falls asleep during a teaching, suddenly we feel better about ourselves because we feel the same way. It’s reassuring to observe ‘apparently’ happier or more successful persons (than ourselves) and to focus on their flaws to somehow justify our own struggles.
Who hasn’t seen the chuckles when a celebrity trips and falls on stage at an awards ceremony?
The downside of this attitude is a constant sense of disappointment and cynicism about human nature.


Conceit perpetuates the dualities of “self” and “others” by taking the stories and identities we build for ourselves and using them as the foundation for how we relate with others and the world.

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To break out of these cycles takes hard work along with the courage to use each ‘conceit’ moment as a chance to practice mindfulness and restraint.

Life can be unpredictable, and as such, gives us many opportunities to practice letting go of control with sprinklings of hardships, illnesses, and other obstacles.

But it’s OK to face the limits of our powers and to let Life happen, because in doing so we learn to cultivate a heart that can unconditionally welcome all things.

Student: “What is the secret to your happiness and equanimity?”

Teacher: “A wholehearted, unrestricted cooperation with the unavoidable.”

This is the Heart of Mindfulness and Compassion.  This is an Awakened Heart.

How it Is

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When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.

She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching

Expectations and Adventures in Parenting

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Parenting is one of those skills that is never quite as clear-cut in Reality as in Theory.

 
We all had grandiose ideas about what we would “never do or say when WE became parents”, and all those places where our own parents “didn’t quite get it right” wouldn’t be problems for us.  Hah!

I remember back in the “Pre Chaos & Disposable Income” days of yesteryear, I had a friend who imagined her future child as a well-mannered, mini adult. She described how they would spend intellectually stimulating afternoons at the galleries, dressed in light shades of cream and white linen; finger foods and television would be unheard of, bed times never up for discussions, and she would magically be able to continue her successful legal practice AND be the perfect PTA mom.

 
Yes, I too had my ‘confusions’ … I envisioned ONE little girl to whom I would pass on my knowledge of cooking, knitting, embroidery and globe-trotting.  We would live in the city yet always have our backpacks ready for an adventure.

Well, here we are:  My friend has an athletic, tomboy who excels in engineering, rock climbing, and dirt bikes, and would rather die than be seen wearing a dainty dress for afternoon tea.

And how did things work out for me?  I can’t complain, I have THREE young men (none of whom have any interest in knitting) and I ended up trading the city for a bunch of acres in the country.  I get to have exciting “jaunts” to the supermarket and soccer fields.

loveAs I considered the few things over which I still think I have some control.  I realize that what matters most is the quality of person I bring into the world.  That means instilling core values such as integrity, compassion and mindfulness.

An awareness of how we affect other people, to be respectful of differences, and most importantly to maybe even generate a little happiness when we interact with the world.

Two things I try to inculcate in my sons are the principles of Patience and Non-Stealing.

Patience, as I present it, is an internal practice.

We all fall prey to the need to hit the elevator button a couple of extra measures because it will somehow make it ‘come faster’; and kids have little innate tolerance for long lines at the supermarket (or any other place for that matter).
I take the time to explain that such impatience is not only hard on themselves, gnawing at their insides even when they ‘appear’ to be calm outwardly, but that it is also hard on the people around them.
Bumps in the road will happen, delays are even more frequent, that’s Life – however, we DO have the power to decide how to react to these challenges.  They can choose to be miserable, or calm and serene, but either way the delay will run its course.
I read somewhere that a synonym for “Patience” is “Self-Possession”, I like that … to be in charge of yourself.

What opportunities do I use to illustrate my lesson?

  • I say ask yourself,  “What’s the worst that can happen?” and is it worth the hissy fit you are sharing with the world?
  • If you feel you are behind on your school project, try to look at what you have accomplished instead of grousing about what is yet to be done.
  • In an argument, try to count or take a couple of deep breaths before you let loose your snappy reply – “Engage your brain before your lips”.  I still struggle with this one.
  • And, remember to thank others when they are patient with you.  Try to remember how they make you feel by not grumbling at you, and be a person who can do that for someone else.prayer

Non-Stealing I express as an outward focused practice.

This isn’t the obvious rule about NOT taking physical things or the dangers of relying upon plagiarism to get that school report done on time.  This is a much more subtle teaching about the value of the intangible but equally valuable assets of Time, Energy and Praise.  It’s about showing consideration for someone’s possessions AND needs.
People who are always late, the chronic complainers … the little drips that wear away at the stone.  Who hasn’t experienced these people?

How do I try to inspire some “non-stealing”?

  • I express that debts should be repaid promptly – whether it’s money or a favor, it’s not kind to make people wait for having helped you.
  • Punctuality is always appreciated because it says that you recognize the value of the other person’s time.
  • Be honest when you catch a mistake at the register, give back extra change or the cashier will have to pay for it.
  • Pay attention when someone speaks to you, and be generous without thinking about potential rewards.  Generosity is more than giving money, it is also about giving some of your time or talents.  Generosity is the extreme version of ‘non-stealing’.

I can’t make these teachings lengthy exchanges or their eyes will glaze over, but sprinkled here and there I can only hope that some of these seeds will sprout and then … Victory will be mine!!!

Er, ahem … I meant … they will hopefully carry these lessons forward to their own children.  Whew!

 
Now, if only I could manage to teach them how to knit …

There is no such thing as failure. There is only Sweet and Sour reality …..

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The I Ching hexagram, ‘Oppression‘, comes to mind:

“… Hard times shrivel our spirits, and give rise to a multitude of “crows” in the form of troublesome worries. Times of great loss or personal failure break weaker people; but the strong of heart can bend with fate …”

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Valentine’s Day has a habit of highlighting the Sweet and Sour around us.  For every kiss that ‘begins with K’ there’s a lonely heart sitting at home.

No, this isn’t about affairs of the heart … more like it’s about Challenges and Change, and relationships are examples we can understand.

When things go sideways, it doesn’t mean the entire experience was a fail.  Not every lesson lasts a lifetime, and it’s important to glean the wisdom we are offered and to honor the opportunity for growth.

Sometimes we resist change because we are afraid of the unknown, sometimes because we fear being seen as ‘quitters’ or failures. My thoughts are that each of us must walk our own paths, listening to our deepest instincts, and everything else is simply people on the outside looking in … opinions and theories.  Background noise.

“… Keep in mind that failure – the final taboo in modern society – is but one part of the inevitable cycle of life for those who dare to live fully and completely. Never to fail at all is to fail in the biggest way.”

New experiences, new relationships, even the release from a toxic or dead relationship … Change … are all wonderful reminders of how much Life has to share with us.  These ‘re-dos’ can be blessings in disguise.  Old patterns and dead-end habits must be purged to make room for growth and fresh starts.  We see this in the cycles of Nature, the leaves that fall from trees aren’t ‘garbage’, they also become compost to nurture what will be further growth for the tree.

See?  We are the trees, and even our worst mistakes will carry something of value for us.

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I was at a Yin Yoga Teacher Training recently and the instructor (the super-duper Corina Benner) read a poem that really stayed with me:

‘She Let Go’
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do
it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or
congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…
There’s only one guru ~ you.

The author of this poem is unclear. A few sites list Ernest Holmes as the author, another Jennifer Eckert Bernau, and still another Rev. Safire Rose.

Wow, right?