Save+Nepal

Donate for Nepal Earthquake Relief

 

TritenMonksHelping1The earthquake that affected Nepal on April 25 damaged some of Triten Norbutse Monastery buildings.

Due to the structural damage, our monks and lamas, like all the other inhabitants in Kathmandu are forced to sleep outdoors. The buildings need to be inspected, assessed for repairs and deemed safe to return inside, before the monks and lamas can go back to sleep indoors.

MonksSleepingOutside

The immediate needs are tents, blankets and other equipment for outdoor living which may be prolonged. We also hear that the price of food in Kathmandu has gone up.

In the midst of all these problems, the monks and lamas are helping the community around them with their own labor, assistance, and prayers.

Please help us support their efforts, as well as the recovery of the monastery. 

Donate as generously as you can, any amount is welcome. All donation are tax deductible. Donations will be given directly to Triten Nortbutse Monastery in the most efficient and low cost way.

Save+NepalHOW TO DONATE
Write a check to Ligmincha Texas, mail it to:
Ligmincha Texas
4200 Westheimer, Suite 215
Houston, Texas 77027

Click here to donate with a credit card immediately:  

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Reconnecting with Your Joyful Essence: An Introduction to the Tibetan Practice of Soul Retrieval – A Year long free webcast series

WebcastGermany2What better way to bring in the New Year than to make a yearlong commitment to heal your soul and revitalize your life? In this daylong “Internet retreat,” Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will introduce his yearlong course on soul retrieval. In two 90-minute teaching sessions, Rinpoche will explain the source of these teachings, what it means to retrieve your soul, and how to identify signs of soul loss. He will guide the practice of the “Three Precious Pills” to help you reconnect with your inherently joyful nature. Two additional guided meditation sessions will be led by a senior teacher.

REVISED SCHEDULE—THE TRUE SOURCE OF HEALING

  • June 13, 2015 (Saturday). The True Source of Healing, Part 5: “The True Source of Healing: Your Own Inner Refuge.” FULL-DAY LIVE WEBCAST*.
  • June 27, 2015 (Saturday), 12-1:15 p.m. Eastern time: “Dream Yoga.” Broadcast live from the annual Summer Retreat at Ligmincha’s Serenity Ridge Retreat Center in Nelson County, Virginia (not a public talk, but webcast is open to all).
  • July 11, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The True Source of Healing, Part 6: “Tapping Into Relationships to Nourish Your Soul.”
  • Aug. 15, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The True Source of Healing, Part 7: “Overcoming Loneliness: Finding the Friend Within.”
  • Sept. 12, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The True Source of Healing, Part 8: “Nourishing Your Inner Being: The Heart of Soul Retrieval.”
  • Oct. 10, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The True Source of Healing, Part 9: “Nourishing Your Inner Being: Questions and Answers.”
  • Oct. 24, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. Topic to be announced. Broadcast live from the annual Fall Retreat at Ligmincha’s Serenity Ridge Retreat Center in Nelson County, Virginia (not a public talk, but webcast is open to all).
  • Nov. 14, 2015 (Saturday), 3-4:30 p.m. Eastern time. The True Source of Healing, Part 10: “The Power of Warmth: Physical Healing Through Meditation.”
  • Dec. 12, 2015 (Saturday). The True Source of Healing, Part 11: “Healing from the Source: Cutting the Root of Your Pain.” FULL-DAY LIVE WEBCAST*.
  • January 1, 2016 (Friday), 11 a.m.-12 noon Eastern time: “Guided Meditation from the Experiential Transmission Teachings, Part 2.” Broadcast live from the Winter Retreat at Ligmincha Institute at Serenity Ridge, Nelson County, Virginia (not a public talk, but webcast is open to all).
  • January 2016 (date and time to be determined). The True Source of Healing, Part 12: “Soul Retrieval as a Lifetime Practice.”

For more information on the webcasts, please go to http://www.ligmincha.org.

About This Series

These practices of Soul Retrieval can help you tap into the ultimate source of healing. Done daily through the entire year of this course, they have the potential to transform your life. They can help you to:

  • Avoid losing your vitality when faced with difficult life challenges.
  • Revitalize your personal life, family life and professional life.
  • Recognize powerful internal and external sources of healing.
  • Experience healing on all levels—physically, energetically, psychologically and spiritually.
  • Come home to your inherently joyful and creative nature.
  • Bring increased happiness and well-being to others.
  • Progress on the path to higher liberation.

The practices in this course draw from the ancient Tibetan Bon Buddhist teachings of Soul Retrieval. They omit traditional soul-retrieval ceremonies and rituals and focus, instead, on the most essential elements of the core teachings.

How to Participate

To take part in this free course, simply join us from your home computer or at one of Ligmincha’s participating practice groups or centers worldwide. By registering at the link above, you will receive your own, unique link for viewing the next scheduled webcast teachings on your computer, as well as email invitations to future webcasts in the series. Each webcast is free and open to all and requires no prerequisite. However, to make the most of this course and its truly life-transforming potential, students are strongly encouraged to view all 12 live webcasts and/or the recordings of those webcasts throughout the year; and to put what they learn into practice daily between sessions. Students who participate in the live webcasts will have access to additional, downloadable course materials.

For added support, monthly group webcast viewings, as well as regularly scheduled group meditation practices based these teachings, will be available in many locations worldwide. Check back closer to the date for a list of locations. If there is no group available in your area and you are interested in starting one informally, email webcast@ligmincha.org to indicate your interest and learn more.

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Meditation leader helps conquer cancer fear

Image of Alejandro Chaoul
Alejandro Chaoul leads a mediation class at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

 

A group sits in a mostly empty room – some in their socks, one barefoot, a few on pillows, others on dull gray chairs – breathing. They inhale. They exhale. They chat. They savor silence.

On Tuesday mornings at M.D. Anderson, this is cancer treatment.

Sun spills through the blinds and throws precise rectangles on the floor, illuminating Alejandro Chaoul’s back as he leads the circle through meditation. On sheets of paper laid out in front of him, meditators have written down what they’re wrestling with. Anxieties, fears. Some have radiation scheduled later that week, others say they have trouble sleeping, even though it is their spouses who have cancer.

In addition to the physical effects of the disease, so much of this fight takes place in the mind.

Chaoul is a doctor, but of the Ph.D. variety, having earned his doctorate at Rice University in Tibetan religion. He started teaching free meditation classes at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as a volunteer 15 years ago, then worked part time through a research grant on Tibetan yoga for people with lymphoma before becoming full-time faculty. He never planned to work at a hospital, but his path mirrors what healing has come to mean in the health care world.

M.D. Anderson was among the first major cancer centers to look at “integrated medicine,” which marries biological treatments like radiation and chemotherapy with yoga, art and meditation. The hospital opened the Place … of wellness in 1998.

At first, it was more of a “side boutique,” driven by volunteers, said Lorenzo Cohen, who joined M.D. Anderson the year before with a background in research psychology.

Cohen studied how to track the impact of stress on the human body. He wanted to apply the same evidence-based practices of traditional medicine to the less visible parts of dealing with cancer. Patients were already exploring ways to cope with their illnesses, but few doctors were clinically studying it.

‘Meditation pills’

Eventually, M.D. Anderson opened the Integrative Medicine Center, which Cohen now directs, moving its services into the Mays Clinic, which also houses the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center and Laura Lee Blanton Gynecologic Oncology Center, among others. Rather than offering “complementary” services, Cohen said, he worked to break down the barriers between oncologists and people like Chaoul. Today, physicians can refer patients to a meditation class or a nutrition specialist on top of regular treatments.

“We’re trying to collect the evidence one way or another,” Cohen said. “Proving something ineffective is equally important to proving something effective.”

What Chaoul prescribes are “meditation pills,” deep breaths taken to dose a stressful moment. And though he teaches that “meditation is medicine of the mind,” he’s also aware of how New Age-y that can comes across.

“I found (the saying) in a really profound place – a tea bag,” he jokes.

One of the hardest parts about both cancer and the practice of Tibetan meditation, he said, is to recognize the impermanence of life. He asks patients and their caregivers to focus on the present.

Encouraged to teach

As a boy, Chaoul said existential attacks would swallow him at night, alone in the dark of his room: “I’m going to die and then what?”

He said difficult events in his life, like his parents’ divorce, propelled him to seek out the spiritual. Not that Chaoul didn’t already have spirituality in his life. He was born Jewish in Catholic Argentina and attended a Presbyterian school before moving to India in pursuit of Buddhist teachings. His first job was in advertising, but he soon turned to Eastern philosophy.

At 24, he traveled to India and stayed for almost a year, finding Indian and Tibetan meditation teachers and practicing several hours a day. When he moved back to Argentina, he helped coordinate the Dalai Lama’s trip there and accompanied him to Chile and Venezuela. Eventually, Chaoul found his way to Houston.

His teachers encouraged him to start teaching, so he began giving classes at Ligmincha Texas, a Buddhist center in Houston. There, he encountered Maria Alma Rodriguez, an M.D. Anderson lymphoma doctor who asked him to teach at the cancer center.

Chaoul said his father always wondered what he was going to do with a religious studies Ph.D. In 1998, before Chaoul starting teaching at M.D. Anderson, his father became a prostate cancer patient there.

“My father is a businessman. He has a classic view of the world,” Chaoul said. “It’s not until he became a patient that he said, ‘What you’re doing is pretty neat.’ I wish he didn’t have to go through that to think that.”

His father survived the cancer, but still does not meditate.

Where body, mind meet

At St. John’s Downtown, the Rev. Juanita Rasmus has eulogized several cancer patients. So when she learned she had a rare form of kidney cancer in 2009, her head was at once numb and spinning. Praying was hard when faced with death, she said, even for a pastor. The tumor was successfully removed, but each time checkups roll around, the anxiety returns.

“What the meditation class helped me to realize is that I’ve been holding my breath most of my life,” Rasmus said. “Working hard, trying to be a good girl, trying to please people. In many ways, the cancer gave me permission to care for myself first.”

Chaoul, 50, still practices Tibetan meditation by himself before the sun rises every day, but he also teaches nearly every day of the week, including classes for faculty and staff, medical students and the community at places like The Rothko Chapel, Jung Center, Ligmincha, Rice and the Asia Society. He has come to embrace working at the intersection of body and mind.

In class, it’s not quiet, a dull beep pulses somewhere else in the hospital, and the vents blow long, heavy blasts into the room. Distractions pull at our “monkey minds,” Chaoul tells the meditators, always swinging from thought to thought. There are so many outside things to notice – eyes flutter open when someone coughs – so focus instead on your breath, he advises; find grounding in yourself. Chaoul taps a bell, and the sound is so clear it circles the room.

For Naomi Rosborough, who has been attending Chaoul’s classes for years with her husband, a survivor of melanoma and prostate cancer, the meditation is not nirvana. But, she says, “it calms our spirits.”

Karen Chen

Karen Chen

Investigative Fellow, Houston Chronicle

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