• “Food is medicine. I see nutrition as a healing force & most of the foods I prepare are termed “living food” created to enhance our full potential, allowing us to enjoy the health & energy we all deserve.”

    Jill Pettijohn

 

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Jill Pettijohn at Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa in Phoenicia, New York

Mondays at Menla with Jill Pettijohn

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to speak with Jill Pettijohn.

Meet Jill Pettijohn

We’d love to hear about your impressions of Menla.

I first came in 2004 when the 13 Grandmothers had their first gathering. I was really touched by the beauty of the land and the mountains. It’s an energy vortex, and you can really feel a spiritual presence from those who were there before us.

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak about what it’s like to return annually?

I’m always happy to visit Menla, such a special, unique place, and I always feel welcome and look forward to seeing everyone.

You’ve helped develop Menla’s Signature Seasonal Cleanses and lead your own programs. Could you tell us about your work with the Dewa Spa?

I started one of the first home delivery Cleanse programs in New York City about 15 years ago. I also had a restaurant, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, that served Raw Organic and Kindly cooked foods. I prepared food for a few retreats early on at Menla and then set up a cleanse program for the Dewa Spa.

Eating a clean and healthy balanced organic diet is so important for continued good health of your body, mind, and spirit. Sharing this knowledge is something I love to do, there is a lot of disease in our lifestyles today, so making some simple changes in the way we eat can shift things and give people better quality of life and ultimately help raise collective consciousness.

To learn more about the work of Jill Pettijohn, join her at Menla in June 2019 and visit her website: www.jillscleanse.com.

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush by Wendy Kagan

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush

On a physical or subtle-body level, disease is understood in Tibetan medicine as an imbalance of the three principles: “rLung” (air or wind), “mKhris-pa” (fire), and “Bad kann” (earth and water). On the spiritual level, illness is described as resulting from three afflictions in Buddhist belief: ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Beyond these principles Tibetan medicine is a vast system that, according to Rosenbush, who is a student of the eminent Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, has strong clinical efficacy to treat disease. “The Tibetan doctors that are practicing throughout the world are for the most part very highly trained and skilled in their diagnostic techniques and use of different substances. [Tibetan medicine is] really a gem within medical systems in the world today.”

Meet Eric Rosenbush

With a home base in Himalayan India, not far from the Tibetan border, Rosenbush works for an NGO that helps local farmers and villagers preserve and cultivate high-elevation plants used in traditional healing. Many of these are the same unique, endemic plants that are sourced to create the herbal substances used in Tibetan medicine, along with Indian and Chinese herbs introduced through centuries-old trade networks.

At Menla, where he’s been training Dewa Spa’s therapists in Tibetan KuNye massage and related therapies, Rosenbush has plans to cultivate local plants and flowers for traditional medicine-making in future Tibetan healing programs, to be offered several times a year. During these retreats, participants engage in mild fasting, skipping at least one meal a day.

“In place of a meal,” says Rosenbush, “you learn to absorb vital energy from special herbal substances mixed with ghee or honey or different kinds of herbal pills,” many of which he creates. Called Chulen, or “extracting the essence,” the practice is combined with breathing, visualization, meditation, and simple yoga to help cleanse and rejuvenate the body and mind.  “It’s quite profound, and it’s another great example of how the Buddhist tradition and the medical tradition work together.”

Meet Your Inner Blue Healer

Rosenbush concurs that it all goes back to the Medicine Buddha—the “originator” of the Tibetan medical system and the source of all healing. “The Medicine Buddha is not necessarily a blue person or a blue alien that taught this medical tradition,” he says lightly.

“It is the enlightened essence of the perfectly realized potentiality of healing. Within everyone there is, we say, the Buddha nature. This is your own enlightened essence, the wisdom essence of your soul. In Tibetan medicine, the Medicine Buddha is really the heart, and can manifest in different ways as your highest potential for healing.”

To read the full article, please visit: www.chronogram.com

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk our founder Nena Thurman.

Nena Thurman, Menla Co-Founder and Executive Chairwoman

What do you remember about your first visit to Menla?

I actually came before it was the Menla we now know, some years before, for programs on energy healing when it was the Pathwork Center. It was incredible when I drove up to Menla after it was given to us from the Aesclepius Foundation after lots of refurbishing and restoration.

What’s your favorite time of year at Menla? Why?

Springtime. We’ve lived through the winter and are rewarded with spring time. There are several places where the forsythia, magnolia and lilacs make everything so beautiful. Of course, the summer is heavenly and a perfect time of year. You don’t need to go to the beach or Europe in the summer when you have Menla.

If you could describe Menla in one word? What is that word?

Well, two words come to mind immediately. Peace. Nature.

Menla’s art is highly curated and purposeful. How is selected?

All the art and photography is donated, every piece of it, and came from exhibitions we had at Tibet House US in New York. I was able to persuade some of the famous photographers who were exhibited who had Tibetan and Himalayan and Buddhist art to donate. We were so fortunate to have so many generous donations. I was able to put art all around Menla. We’ve had this art exhibited over the last 15 years, and it’s very special to me.

The Dewa Spa is your vision from building design to guest experience. How is Dewa Spa different than any other healing center?

It’s different because the Tibetan therapies – living therapies – Tibetan medicine – are unique to the Dewa Spa.  A Tibetan doctor trained our therapists to add to the Ayurveda and western therapies that have already proven to work and are so popular today.

We wanted to be different, and we are different. We are told by our many guests that there is a comfortable and peaceful experience immediately. This was the vision.

To learn more about the work of Nena Thurman, please visit:

Georgian Journal interview  – www.georgianjournal.ge
Buddha’s Champions – Lion’s Roar Interview – www.lionsroar.com

 

Mondays at Menla with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk with Sacred Stream’s Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D, Foundation of the Sacred Stream

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak on what it’s like to return annually?

My time at Menla every spring and fall is something I look forward to all year. There is very little that is more engaging, educational and inspiring than teaching with Bob [Thurman) this is, of course, one of the reasons I look forward to returning to Menla. I am always happy to reunite with the members of the staff – the work they do allows so many people the opportunity to come into contact with this very special land.

You’ve co-taught two programs “Embracing the Sacred Feminine” + “Shamans and Siddhas” at Menla over the years, What is the difference between these two retreat offerings + what is it like teaching them annually. How will this year’s experiences be different?

“Embracing the Sacred Feminine” is a class that focuses on discovering our relationship to the abundant, nurturing and mutual power of the great mother and “Shamans and Siddhas” is the exploration of two wisdom systems – Vajrayana Buddhism and Shamanism, which is an earth-based system found in many cultural contexts.

On Co-Teaching with Robert A.F. Thurman

Bob has been a strong proponent and admirer of the great feminine – and he values the role of women in society more than any man I have ever known. Yet, the more teach this class, the more I see his ability to directly touch into the power of the great feminine rather than going through women to access it.

Do you remember your first visit to Phoenicia, New York? We’d love to hear about your impressions about what it was like to visit Menla for the first time.

The first time I came to Menla I came with monks from the Gaden Shartse Dokhang. Menla provided them with the sustenance they needed to continue the tour. When teaching at Menla, I always see that same support & spaciousness active in the students’ experience.

To read more about Isa’s first visit to Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa, read her article “Reflections on Menla“.

Drumming & Meditation at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

Drumming at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

In this excerpt from the Foundation of the Sacred Stream’s blog, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. explains the context of a shamanic counseling practice and how drumming and drum healings can be used to help clients to access well-defended emotions and experiences.

Shaman as Hollow Bone & Drumming in Shamanic Cultures

In almost all shamanic cultures, both past and present, we see drumming and the drum being used as an instrument of healing. Shamans use the drum to address many issues and physical ailments including depression, phobias, addiction, and chronic health problems.

The Shaman has been described as a hollow bone. He or she enters an altered state or light trance, clearing out his or her personal ego space to make way for spirit to use him or her as a healing tool. In this way, the Shaman is a channel for higher consciousness.

The spirits that Shamans work with are described as compassionate beings, very similar to the Judeo-Christian description of angels. Although some people may resist or question the concept of healing spirits or divine spirit, it is not necessary to believe in this idea to experience healing with the drum. When I use the drum, I usually use it in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques.

Use of Drumming to Shift Difficult Emotions

The following example illustrates how the drum can be used to create a shift in a client’s long-standing issue with anger. In this case, the client was a 34-year-old man. In the course of our counseling, I had discovered that his anger was the root cause of a depression he had suffered from for most of his adult life.

While drumming, I focus my attention on moving power through the drum and into the place in my client’s psyche where [they] hold anger. As a result of drum healing, my clients experience a profound shift in anger, [gaining] access to a great deal of new memories previously inaccessible.

Eventually, anger gives way to a deep sense of sorrow, the emotion ultimately underlying anger. After the drum healing, the clients report feeling purged and more alive than he had ever felt before.

– Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Reflections on Menla Retreat by Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In this excerpt from the Foundation for the Sacred Stream, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. recounts her 2014 visit to Menla.

The Magic of Menla Retreat, Tibet in the Catskills

Menla means Medicine Buddha in Tibetan, but I think the esoteric translation must be “magic.”  Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, Menla is a place unto itself.

In the center of the bowl created by this cosmic event is Menla, a well-maintained collection of beautiful buildings including a conference center, spa, barn, and lodges. From the bottom of the meteor crater, you look up to see the hills, forested with mature oaks and maples, and in the rain, the hillsides cascade with streams running down from the crater’s rim. The melody of the water complements a cacophony of hundreds of birds. I was happily kept up at night by a pair of owls calling across the valley.

The teachings were those of Geshe Chophel, the spiritual master of the Gaden Shartse Dokhang Compassion Tour that Menla is hosting, and those of Robert A.F Thurman, one of the most articulate and passionate interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism alive today. In articulating the nature of the Medicine Buddha, Bob managed to tap dance into his favorite rap on nothingness, and the monks created a beautiful sand mandala of the palace, or home, of the Medicine Buddha.

The Medicine Buddha, Master Healer

The Medicine Buddha is like the patron saint of healers, and is, himself, a master healer. The Medicine Buddha depicted in thangkas is deep cobalt in color and holds the myrobalan flower that cures all ills and a bowl of nectar which is an elixir for all disease.

In the center is an ornate gilt box that contains all the existing texts related to healing in Tibetan medicine. Around the center square of this box are the Eight Medicine Buddha Brothers, each in the form of a petal surrounding the center square, representing the sixteen Bodhisattvas who return to the realm of suffering, after attaining enlightenment, to relieve the ills of those who are still caught in the cycle of suffering.

The magic of our time at Menla is counted in so many ways: the place which is like no other; the monks, themselves, coming from across the world, to create the mandala for the Buddha who is the center of Menla Retreat.

To read the original article, please visit: www.sacredstream.org.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Trauma of Being Alive: Addicted to an Upside-Down World

Talking with my 88-year-old mother, four and a half years after my father died from a brain tumor, I was surprised to hear her questioning herself. “You’d think I would be over it by now,” she said, speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost 60 years.

“Trauma never goes away completely,” I responded. “It changes perhaps, softens some with time, but never completely goes away. What makes you think you should be completely over it? I don’t think it works that way.” There was a palpable sense of relief as my mother considered my opinion.

“I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not over it? It took 10 years after my first husband died,” she remembered suddenly, thinking back to her college sweetheart, to his sudden death from a heart condition when she was in her mid-20s, a few years before she met my father. “I guess I could give myself a break.”

Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive, or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.

Excerpted from www.newyorktimes.com.

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

In this excerpted interview, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang discusses the foundations of Sowa Rigpa in Buddhist history.

Sowa Rigpa : The Science of Healing

The Yuthok Nyingthik, or ‘Heart-drop of Yuthok’, is the secret heart precious and special teaching of the King of Doctors, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the younger (1126-1202). Of these, the Four Tantras are Sowa Rigpa, the Science of Healing of the system of the rishis or sages. This is a science of medicine that keeps oneself and others well when not sick and that heals them when ill without looking down upon or discriminating against anyone by virtue of their religion, race, ethnicity, or status, and that also teaches how to bring about the religious insights, wealth and happiness desired by common disciples.

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa Comprise: The Root, Explanatory, Pith Instructions & the Subsequent Tantras

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the most famous medical texts in Tibetan medical history. They were composed by the King of Doctors Yuthok Yonten Gonpo (the Elder) in the eight century and re-edited by Yuthok the Younger in the twelfth century. The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the basis for all of the practices and original sources for the entirety of Tibetan medical culture, and so they have become nothing short of an indispensable foundation for an education in Tibetan medicine.

The Root Tantra clearly lays out a summary of all these: the basic nature of disease according to an uncommon tree trunk-like model, the identification and diagnosis of diseases, and methods for curing them.

The Explanatory Tantra contains the more essential aspects of traditional knowledge truly needed for the study of medicine. It teaches: the production, maintenance, and destruction of elements and constituents in the human body and how sickness enters the body in that regard; expert methods or technologies for remedying disease; about diet, lifestyle, and medical treatment; about ways to protect healthy people from disease (i.e. preventative medicine); methods of diagnosis; the basics of curing; and doctors’ ethics.

The Pith Instructions Tantra deals with the science of the elements of disease. It teaches in fine and extensive detail about diseases of the three humours, about the causes and conditions (etiology) of bodily and mental diseases, about symptomology, and cures and preventative measures related to the fourfold antidotes.

The Subsequent Tantra: This teaches the primary explanations on practice, methods of pulse and urine analysis, formulas for pacifying diseases, purifying functions, and the science of treatment and cure.

This is an excerpt from 2017 Interview with Dr Nida from www.perfumedskull.com. Group Photo from the Tibetan Secrets of Longevity Retreat 2015.

To learn more about Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa, and The Four Tantras, please join the next annual Tibet House US Retreat with Robert A.F. Thurman + Dr Nida Chenagtsang by visiting www.menla.us.

Jill Pettijohn at Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa in Phoenicia, New York

Mondays at Menla with Jill Pettijohn

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to speak with Jill Pettijohn.

Meet Jill Pettijohn

We’d love to hear about your impressions of Menla.

I first came in 2004 when the 13 Grandmothers had their first gathering. I was really touched by the beauty of the land and the mountains. It’s an energy vortex, and you can really feel a spiritual presence from those who were there before us.

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak about what it’s like to return annually?

I’m always happy to visit Menla, such a special, unique place, and I always feel welcome and look forward to seeing everyone.

You’ve helped develop Menla’s Signature Seasonal Cleanses and lead your own programs. Could you tell us about your work with the Dewa Spa?

I started one of the first home delivery Cleanse programs in New York City about 15 years ago. I also had a restaurant, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, that served Raw Organic and Kindly cooked foods. I prepared food for a few retreats early on at Menla and then set up a cleanse program for the Dewa Spa.

Eating a clean and healthy balanced organic diet is so important for continued good health of your body, mind, and spirit. Sharing this knowledge is something I love to do, there is a lot of disease in our lifestyles today, so making some simple changes in the way we eat can shift things and give people better quality of life and ultimately help raise collective consciousness.

To learn more about the work of Jill Pettijohn, join her at Menla in June 2019 and visit her website: www.jillscleanse.com.

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush by Wendy Kagan

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush

On a physical or subtle-body level, disease is understood in Tibetan medicine as an imbalance of the three principles: “rLung” (air or wind), “mKhris-pa” (fire), and “Bad kann” (earth and water). On the spiritual level, illness is described as resulting from three afflictions in Buddhist belief: ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Beyond these principles Tibetan medicine is a vast system that, according to Rosenbush, who is a student of the eminent Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, has strong clinical efficacy to treat disease. “The Tibetan doctors that are practicing throughout the world are for the most part very highly trained and skilled in their diagnostic techniques and use of different substances. [Tibetan medicine is] really a gem within medical systems in the world today.”

Meet Eric Rosenbush

With a home base in Himalayan India, not far from the Tibetan border, Rosenbush works for an NGO that helps local farmers and villagers preserve and cultivate high-elevation plants used in traditional healing. Many of these are the same unique, endemic plants that are sourced to create the herbal substances used in Tibetan medicine, along with Indian and Chinese herbs introduced through centuries-old trade networks.

At Menla, where he’s been training Dewa Spa’s therapists in Tibetan KuNye massage and related therapies, Rosenbush has plans to cultivate local plants and flowers for traditional medicine-making in future Tibetan healing programs, to be offered several times a year. During these retreats, participants engage in mild fasting, skipping at least one meal a day.

“In place of a meal,” says Rosenbush, “you learn to absorb vital energy from special herbal substances mixed with ghee or honey or different kinds of herbal pills,” many of which he creates. Called Chulen, or “extracting the essence,” the practice is combined with breathing, visualization, meditation, and simple yoga to help cleanse and rejuvenate the body and mind.  “It’s quite profound, and it’s another great example of how the Buddhist tradition and the medical tradition work together.”

Meet Your Inner Blue Healer

Rosenbush concurs that it all goes back to the Medicine Buddha—the “originator” of the Tibetan medical system and the source of all healing. “The Medicine Buddha is not necessarily a blue person or a blue alien that taught this medical tradition,” he says lightly.

“It is the enlightened essence of the perfectly realized potentiality of healing. Within everyone there is, we say, the Buddha nature. This is your own enlightened essence, the wisdom essence of your soul. In Tibetan medicine, the Medicine Buddha is really the heart, and can manifest in different ways as your highest potential for healing.”

To read the full article, please visit: www.chronogram.com

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk our founder Nena Thurman.

Nena Thurman, Menla Co-Founder and Executive Chairwoman

What do you remember about your first visit to Menla?

I actually came before it was the Menla we now know, some years before, for programs on energy healing when it was the Pathwork Center. It was incredible when I drove up to Menla after it was given to us from the Aesclepius Foundation after lots of refurbishing and restoration.

What’s your favorite time of year at Menla? Why?

Springtime. We’ve lived through the winter and are rewarded with spring time. There are several places where the forsythia, magnolia and lilacs make everything so beautiful. Of course, the summer is heavenly and a perfect time of year. You don’t need to go to the beach or Europe in the summer when you have Menla.

If you could describe Menla in one word? What is that word?

Well, two words come to mind immediately. Peace. Nature.

Menla’s art is highly curated and purposeful. How is selected?

All the art and photography is donated, every piece of it, and came from exhibitions we had at Tibet House US in New York. I was able to persuade some of the famous photographers who were exhibited who had Tibetan and Himalayan and Buddhist art to donate. We were so fortunate to have so many generous donations. I was able to put art all around Menla. We’ve had this art exhibited over the last 15 years, and it’s very special to me.

The Dewa Spa is your vision from building design to guest experience. How is Dewa Spa different than any other healing center?

It’s different because the Tibetan therapies – living therapies – Tibetan medicine – are unique to the Dewa Spa.  A Tibetan doctor trained our therapists to add to the Ayurveda and western therapies that have already proven to work and are so popular today.

We wanted to be different, and we are different. We are told by our many guests that there is a comfortable and peaceful experience immediately. This was the vision.

To learn more about the work of Nena Thurman, please visit:

Georgian Journal interview  – www.georgianjournal.ge
Buddha’s Champions – Lion’s Roar Interview – www.lionsroar.com

 

Mondays at Menla with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk with Sacred Stream’s Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D, Foundation of the Sacred Stream

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak on what it’s like to return annually?

My time at Menla every spring and fall is something I look forward to all year. There is very little that is more engaging, educational and inspiring than teaching with Bob [Thurman) this is, of course, one of the reasons I look forward to returning to Menla. I am always happy to reunite with the members of the staff – the work they do allows so many people the opportunity to come into contact with this very special land.

You’ve co-taught two programs “Embracing the Sacred Feminine” + “Shamans and Siddhas” at Menla over the years, What is the difference between these two retreat offerings + what is it like teaching them annually. How will this year’s experiences be different?

“Embracing the Sacred Feminine” is a class that focuses on discovering our relationship to the abundant, nurturing and mutual power of the great mother and “Shamans and Siddhas” is the exploration of two wisdom systems – Vajrayana Buddhism and Shamanism, which is an earth-based system found in many cultural contexts.

On Co-Teaching with Robert A.F. Thurman

Bob has been a strong proponent and admirer of the great feminine – and he values the role of women in society more than any man I have ever known. Yet, the more teach this class, the more I see his ability to directly touch into the power of the great feminine rather than going through women to access it.

Do you remember your first visit to Phoenicia, New York? We’d love to hear about your impressions about what it was like to visit Menla for the first time.

The first time I came to Menla I came with monks from the Gaden Shartse Dokhang. Menla provided them with the sustenance they needed to continue the tour. When teaching at Menla, I always see that same support & spaciousness active in the students’ experience.

To read more about Isa’s first visit to Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa, read her article “Reflections on Menla“.

Drumming & Meditation at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

Drumming at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

In this excerpt from the Foundation of the Sacred Stream’s blog, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. explains the context of a shamanic counseling practice and how drumming and drum healings can be used to help clients to access well-defended emotions and experiences.

Shaman as Hollow Bone & Drumming in Shamanic Cultures

In almost all shamanic cultures, both past and present, we see drumming and the drum being used as an instrument of healing. Shamans use the drum to address many issues and physical ailments including depression, phobias, addiction, and chronic health problems.

The Shaman has been described as a hollow bone. He or she enters an altered state or light trance, clearing out his or her personal ego space to make way for spirit to use him or her as a healing tool. In this way, the Shaman is a channel for higher consciousness.

The spirits that Shamans work with are described as compassionate beings, very similar to the Judeo-Christian description of angels. Although some people may resist or question the concept of healing spirits or divine spirit, it is not necessary to believe in this idea to experience healing with the drum. When I use the drum, I usually use it in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques.

Use of Drumming to Shift Difficult Emotions

The following example illustrates how the drum can be used to create a shift in a client’s long-standing issue with anger. In this case, the client was a 34-year-old man. In the course of our counseling, I had discovered that his anger was the root cause of a depression he had suffered from for most of his adult life.

While drumming, I focus my attention on moving power through the drum and into the place in my client’s psyche where [they] hold anger. As a result of drum healing, my clients experience a profound shift in anger, [gaining] access to a great deal of new memories previously inaccessible.

Eventually, anger gives way to a deep sense of sorrow, the emotion ultimately underlying anger. After the drum healing, the clients report feeling purged and more alive than he had ever felt before.

– Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Reflections on Menla Retreat by Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In this excerpt from the Foundation for the Sacred Stream, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. recounts her 2014 visit to Menla.

The Magic of Menla Retreat, Tibet in the Catskills

Menla means Medicine Buddha in Tibetan, but I think the esoteric translation must be “magic.”  Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, Menla is a place unto itself.

In the center of the bowl created by this cosmic event is Menla, a well-maintained collection of beautiful buildings including a conference center, spa, barn, and lodges. From the bottom of the meteor crater, you look up to see the hills, forested with mature oaks and maples, and in the rain, the hillsides cascade with streams running down from the crater’s rim. The melody of the water complements a cacophony of hundreds of birds. I was happily kept up at night by a pair of owls calling across the valley.

The teachings were those of Geshe Chophel, the spiritual master of the Gaden Shartse Dokhang Compassion Tour that Menla is hosting, and those of Robert A.F Thurman, one of the most articulate and passionate interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism alive today. In articulating the nature of the Medicine Buddha, Bob managed to tap dance into his favorite rap on nothingness, and the monks created a beautiful sand mandala of the palace, or home, of the Medicine Buddha.

The Medicine Buddha, Master Healer

The Medicine Buddha is like the patron saint of healers, and is, himself, a master healer. The Medicine Buddha depicted in thangkas is deep cobalt in color and holds the myrobalan flower that cures all ills and a bowl of nectar which is an elixir for all disease.

In the center is an ornate gilt box that contains all the existing texts related to healing in Tibetan medicine. Around the center square of this box are the Eight Medicine Buddha Brothers, each in the form of a petal surrounding the center square, representing the sixteen Bodhisattvas who return to the realm of suffering, after attaining enlightenment, to relieve the ills of those who are still caught in the cycle of suffering.

The magic of our time at Menla is counted in so many ways: the place which is like no other; the monks, themselves, coming from across the world, to create the mandala for the Buddha who is the center of Menla Retreat.

To read the original article, please visit: www.sacredstream.org.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Trauma of Being Alive: Addicted to an Upside-Down World

Talking with my 88-year-old mother, four and a half years after my father died from a brain tumor, I was surprised to hear her questioning herself. “You’d think I would be over it by now,” she said, speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost 60 years.

“Trauma never goes away completely,” I responded. “It changes perhaps, softens some with time, but never completely goes away. What makes you think you should be completely over it? I don’t think it works that way.” There was a palpable sense of relief as my mother considered my opinion.

“I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not over it? It took 10 years after my first husband died,” she remembered suddenly, thinking back to her college sweetheart, to his sudden death from a heart condition when she was in her mid-20s, a few years before she met my father. “I guess I could give myself a break.”

Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive, or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.

Excerpted from www.newyorktimes.com.

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

In this excerpted interview, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang discusses the foundations of Sowa Rigpa in Buddhist history.

Sowa Rigpa : The Science of Healing

The Yuthok Nyingthik, or ‘Heart-drop of Yuthok’, is the secret heart precious and special teaching of the King of Doctors, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the younger (1126-1202). Of these, the Four Tantras are Sowa Rigpa, the Science of Healing of the system of the rishis or sages. This is a science of medicine that keeps oneself and others well when not sick and that heals them when ill without looking down upon or discriminating against anyone by virtue of their religion, race, ethnicity, or status, and that also teaches how to bring about the religious insights, wealth and happiness desired by common disciples.

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa Comprise: The Root, Explanatory, Pith Instructions & the Subsequent Tantras

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the most famous medical texts in Tibetan medical history. They were composed by the King of Doctors Yuthok Yonten Gonpo (the Elder) in the eight century and re-edited by Yuthok the Younger in the twelfth century. The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the basis for all of the practices and original sources for the entirety of Tibetan medical culture, and so they have become nothing short of an indispensable foundation for an education in Tibetan medicine.

The Root Tantra clearly lays out a summary of all these: the basic nature of disease according to an uncommon tree trunk-like model, the identification and diagnosis of diseases, and methods for curing them.

The Explanatory Tantra contains the more essential aspects of traditional knowledge truly needed for the study of medicine. It teaches: the production, maintenance, and destruction of elements and constituents in the human body and how sickness enters the body in that regard; expert methods or technologies for remedying disease; about diet, lifestyle, and medical treatment; about ways to protect healthy people from disease (i.e. preventative medicine); methods of diagnosis; the basics of curing; and doctors’ ethics.

The Pith Instructions Tantra deals with the science of the elements of disease. It teaches in fine and extensive detail about diseases of the three humours, about the causes and conditions (etiology) of bodily and mental diseases, about symptomology, and cures and preventative measures related to the fourfold antidotes.

The Subsequent Tantra: This teaches the primary explanations on practice, methods of pulse and urine analysis, formulas for pacifying diseases, purifying functions, and the science of treatment and cure.

This is an excerpt from 2017 Interview with Dr Nida from www.perfumedskull.com. Group Photo from the Tibetan Secrets of Longevity Retreat 2015.

To learn more about Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa, and The Four Tantras, please join the next annual Tibet House US Retreat with Robert A.F. Thurman + Dr Nida Chenagtsang by visiting www.menla.us.

Jill Pettijohn at Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa in Phoenicia, New York

Mondays at Menla with Jill Pettijohn

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to speak with Jill Pettijohn.

Meet Jill Pettijohn

We’d love to hear about your impressions of Menla.

I first came in 2004 when the 13 Grandmothers had their first gathering. I was really touched by the beauty of the land and the mountains. It’s an energy vortex, and you can really feel a spiritual presence from those who were there before us.

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak about what it’s like to return annually?

I’m always happy to visit Menla, such a special, unique place, and I always feel welcome and look forward to seeing everyone.

You’ve helped develop Menla’s Signature Seasonal Cleanses and lead your own programs. Could you tell us about your work with the Dewa Spa?

I started one of the first home delivery Cleanse programs in New York City about 15 years ago. I also had a restaurant, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, that served Raw Organic and Kindly cooked foods. I prepared food for a few retreats early on at Menla and then set up a cleanse program for the Dewa Spa.

Eating a clean and healthy balanced organic diet is so important for continued good health of your body, mind, and spirit. Sharing this knowledge is something I love to do, there is a lot of disease in our lifestyles today, so making some simple changes in the way we eat can shift things and give people better quality of life and ultimately help raise collective consciousness.

To learn more about the work of Jill Pettijohn, join her at Menla in June 2019 and visit her website: www.jillscleanse.com.

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush by Wendy Kagan

Tibetan Herbs: From Tibet with Love with Eric Rosenbush

On a physical or subtle-body level, disease is understood in Tibetan medicine as an imbalance of the three principles: “rLung” (air or wind), “mKhris-pa” (fire), and “Bad kann” (earth and water). On the spiritual level, illness is described as resulting from three afflictions in Buddhist belief: ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Beyond these principles Tibetan medicine is a vast system that, according to Rosenbush, who is a student of the eminent Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, has strong clinical efficacy to treat disease. “The Tibetan doctors that are practicing throughout the world are for the most part very highly trained and skilled in their diagnostic techniques and use of different substances. [Tibetan medicine is] really a gem within medical systems in the world today.”

Meet Eric Rosenbush

With a home base in Himalayan India, not far from the Tibetan border, Rosenbush works for an NGO that helps local farmers and villagers preserve and cultivate high-elevation plants used in traditional healing. Many of these are the same unique, endemic plants that are sourced to create the herbal substances used in Tibetan medicine, along with Indian and Chinese herbs introduced through centuries-old trade networks.

At Menla, where he’s been training Dewa Spa’s therapists in Tibetan KuNye massage and related therapies, Rosenbush has plans to cultivate local plants and flowers for traditional medicine-making in future Tibetan healing programs, to be offered several times a year. During these retreats, participants engage in mild fasting, skipping at least one meal a day.

“In place of a meal,” says Rosenbush, “you learn to absorb vital energy from special herbal substances mixed with ghee or honey or different kinds of herbal pills,” many of which he creates. Called Chulen, or “extracting the essence,” the practice is combined with breathing, visualization, meditation, and simple yoga to help cleanse and rejuvenate the body and mind.  “It’s quite profound, and it’s another great example of how the Buddhist tradition and the medical tradition work together.”

Meet Your Inner Blue Healer

Rosenbush concurs that it all goes back to the Medicine Buddha—the “originator” of the Tibetan medical system and the source of all healing. “The Medicine Buddha is not necessarily a blue person or a blue alien that taught this medical tradition,” he says lightly.

“It is the enlightened essence of the perfectly realized potentiality of healing. Within everyone there is, we say, the Buddha nature. This is your own enlightened essence, the wisdom essence of your soul. In Tibetan medicine, the Medicine Buddha is really the heart, and can manifest in different ways as your highest potential for healing.”

To read the full article, please visit: www.chronogram.com

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

Mondays at Menla with Nena Thurman

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk our founder Nena Thurman.

Nena Thurman, Menla Co-Founder and Executive Chairwoman

What do you remember about your first visit to Menla?

I actually came before it was the Menla we now know, some years before, for programs on energy healing when it was the Pathwork Center. It was incredible when I drove up to Menla after it was given to us from the Aesclepius Foundation after lots of refurbishing and restoration.

What’s your favorite time of year at Menla? Why?

Springtime. We’ve lived through the winter and are rewarded with spring time. There are several places where the forsythia, magnolia and lilacs make everything so beautiful. Of course, the summer is heavenly and a perfect time of year. You don’t need to go to the beach or Europe in the summer when you have Menla.

If you could describe Menla in one word? What is that word?

Well, two words come to mind immediately. Peace. Nature.

Menla’s art is highly curated and purposeful. How is selected?

All the art and photography is donated, every piece of it, and came from exhibitions we had at Tibet House US in New York. I was able to persuade some of the famous photographers who were exhibited who had Tibetan and Himalayan and Buddhist art to donate. We were so fortunate to have so many generous donations. I was able to put art all around Menla. We’ve had this art exhibited over the last 15 years, and it’s very special to me.

The Dewa Spa is your vision from building design to guest experience. How is Dewa Spa different than any other healing center?

It’s different because the Tibetan therapies – living therapies – Tibetan medicine – are unique to the Dewa Spa.  A Tibetan doctor trained our therapists to add to the Ayurveda and western therapies that have already proven to work and are so popular today.

We wanted to be different, and we are different. We are told by our many guests that there is a comfortable and peaceful experience immediately. This was the vision.

To learn more about the work of Nena Thurman, please visit:

Georgian Journal interview  – www.georgianjournal.ge
Buddha’s Champions – Lion’s Roar Interview – www.lionsroar.com

 

Mondays at Menla with Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

A special feature showcasing some of the individuals, groups and organizations who help make Tibet House’s Menla retreat and Dewa spa in Phoenicia, New York the special place that it is. In this installment of Mondays At Menla, we’re honored to sit down and talk with Sacred Stream’s Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D, Foundation of the Sacred Stream

You’ve taught at Menla in the past years. Could you speak on what it’s like to return annually?

My time at Menla every spring and fall is something I look forward to all year. There is very little that is more engaging, educational and inspiring than teaching with Bob [Thurman) this is, of course, one of the reasons I look forward to returning to Menla. I am always happy to reunite with the members of the staff – the work they do allows so many people the opportunity to come into contact with this very special land.

You’ve co-taught two programs “Embracing the Sacred Feminine” + “Shamans and Siddhas” at Menla over the years, What is the difference between these two retreat offerings + what is it like teaching them annually. How will this year’s experiences be different?

“Embracing the Sacred Feminine” is a class that focuses on discovering our relationship to the abundant, nurturing and mutual power of the great mother and “Shamans and Siddhas” is the exploration of two wisdom systems – Vajrayana Buddhism and Shamanism, which is an earth-based system found in many cultural contexts.

On Co-Teaching with Robert A.F. Thurman

Bob has been a strong proponent and admirer of the great feminine – and he values the role of women in society more than any man I have ever known. Yet, the more teach this class, the more I see his ability to directly touch into the power of the great feminine rather than going through women to access it.

Do you remember your first visit to Phoenicia, New York? We’d love to hear about your impressions about what it was like to visit Menla for the first time.

The first time I came to Menla I came with monks from the Gaden Shartse Dokhang. Menla provided them with the sustenance they needed to continue the tour. When teaching at Menla, I always see that same support & spaciousness active in the students’ experience.

To read more about Isa’s first visit to Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa, read her article “Reflections on Menla“.

Drumming & Meditation at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

Drumming at the Crossroads of Shamanism & Tantra

In this excerpt from the Foundation of the Sacred Stream’s blog, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. explains the context of a shamanic counseling practice and how drumming and drum healings can be used to help clients to access well-defended emotions and experiences.

Shaman as Hollow Bone & Drumming in Shamanic Cultures

In almost all shamanic cultures, both past and present, we see drumming and the drum being used as an instrument of healing. Shamans use the drum to address many issues and physical ailments including depression, phobias, addiction, and chronic health problems.

The Shaman has been described as a hollow bone. He or she enters an altered state or light trance, clearing out his or her personal ego space to make way for spirit to use him or her as a healing tool. In this way, the Shaman is a channel for higher consciousness.

The spirits that Shamans work with are described as compassionate beings, very similar to the Judeo-Christian description of angels. Although some people may resist or question the concept of healing spirits or divine spirit, it is not necessary to believe in this idea to experience healing with the drum. When I use the drum, I usually use it in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques.

Use of Drumming to Shift Difficult Emotions

The following example illustrates how the drum can be used to create a shift in a client’s long-standing issue with anger. In this case, the client was a 34-year-old man. In the course of our counseling, I had discovered that his anger was the root cause of a depression he had suffered from for most of his adult life.

While drumming, I focus my attention on moving power through the drum and into the place in my client’s psyche where [they] hold anger. As a result of drum healing, my clients experience a profound shift in anger, [gaining] access to a great deal of new memories previously inaccessible.

Eventually, anger gives way to a deep sense of sorrow, the emotion ultimately underlying anger. After the drum healing, the clients report feeling purged and more alive than he had ever felt before.

– Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Reflections on Menla Retreat by Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In this excerpt from the Foundation for the Sacred Stream, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. recounts her 2014 visit to Menla.

The Magic of Menla Retreat, Tibet in the Catskills

Menla means Medicine Buddha in Tibetan, but I think the esoteric translation must be “magic.”  Located in the Catskill Mountains in New York, Menla is a place unto itself.

In the center of the bowl created by this cosmic event is Menla, a well-maintained collection of beautiful buildings including a conference center, spa, barn, and lodges. From the bottom of the meteor crater, you look up to see the hills, forested with mature oaks and maples, and in the rain, the hillsides cascade with streams running down from the crater’s rim. The melody of the water complements a cacophony of hundreds of birds. I was happily kept up at night by a pair of owls calling across the valley.

The teachings were those of Geshe Chophel, the spiritual master of the Gaden Shartse Dokhang Compassion Tour that Menla is hosting, and those of Robert A.F Thurman, one of the most articulate and passionate interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism alive today. In articulating the nature of the Medicine Buddha, Bob managed to tap dance into his favorite rap on nothingness, and the monks created a beautiful sand mandala of the palace, or home, of the Medicine Buddha.

The Medicine Buddha, Master Healer

The Medicine Buddha is like the patron saint of healers, and is, himself, a master healer. The Medicine Buddha depicted in thangkas is deep cobalt in color and holds the myrobalan flower that cures all ills and a bowl of nectar which is an elixir for all disease.

In the center is an ornate gilt box that contains all the existing texts related to healing in Tibetan medicine. Around the center square of this box are the Eight Medicine Buddha Brothers, each in the form of a petal surrounding the center square, representing the sixteen Bodhisattvas who return to the realm of suffering, after attaining enlightenment, to relieve the ills of those who are still caught in the cycle of suffering.

The magic of our time at Menla is counted in so many ways: the place which is like no other; the monks, themselves, coming from across the world, to create the mandala for the Buddha who is the center of Menla Retreat.

To read the original article, please visit: www.sacredstream.org.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Trauma of Being Alive: Addicted to an Upside-Down World

Talking with my 88-year-old mother, four and a half years after my father died from a brain tumor, I was surprised to hear her questioning herself. “You’d think I would be over it by now,” she said, speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost 60 years.

“Trauma never goes away completely,” I responded. “It changes perhaps, softens some with time, but never completely goes away. What makes you think you should be completely over it? I don’t think it works that way.” There was a palpable sense of relief as my mother considered my opinion.

“I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m not over it? It took 10 years after my first husband died,” she remembered suddenly, thinking back to her college sweetheart, to his sudden death from a heart condition when she was in her mid-20s, a few years before she met my father. “I guess I could give myself a break.”

Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive, or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.

Excerpted from www.newyorktimes.com.

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

Sowa Rigpa: Tibetan Healing with Dr. Nida Chenagtsang

In this excerpted interview, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang discusses the foundations of Sowa Rigpa in Buddhist history.

Sowa Rigpa : The Science of Healing

The Yuthok Nyingthik, or ‘Heart-drop of Yuthok’, is the secret heart precious and special teaching of the King of Doctors, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the younger (1126-1202). Of these, the Four Tantras are Sowa Rigpa, the Science of Healing of the system of the rishis or sages. This is a science of medicine that keeps oneself and others well when not sick and that heals them when ill without looking down upon or discriminating against anyone by virtue of their religion, race, ethnicity, or status, and that also teaches how to bring about the religious insights, wealth and happiness desired by common disciples.

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa Comprise: The Root, Explanatory, Pith Instructions & the Subsequent Tantras

The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the most famous medical texts in Tibetan medical history. They were composed by the King of Doctors Yuthok Yonten Gonpo (the Elder) in the eight century and re-edited by Yuthok the Younger in the twelfth century. The Four Tantras of Sowa Rigpa are the basis for all of the practices and original sources for the entirety of Tibetan medical culture, and so they have become nothing short of an indispensable foundation for an education in Tibetan medicine.

The Root Tantra clearly lays out a summary of all these: the basic nature of disease according to an uncommon tree trunk-like model, the identification and diagnosis of diseases, and methods for curing them.

The Explanatory Tantra contains the more essential aspects of traditional knowledge truly needed for the study of medicine. It teaches: the production, maintenance, and destruction of elements and constituents in the human body and how sickness enters the body in that regard; expert methods or technologies for remedying disease; about diet, lifestyle, and medical treatment; about ways to protect healthy people from disease (i.e. preventative medicine); methods of diagnosis; the basics of curing; and doctors’ ethics.

The Pith Instructions Tantra deals with the science of the elements of disease. It teaches in fine and extensive detail about diseases of the three humours, about the causes and conditions (etiology) of bodily and mental diseases, about symptomology, and cures and preventative measures related to the fourfold antidotes.

The Subsequent Tantra: This teaches the primary explanations on practice, methods of pulse and urine analysis, formulas for pacifying diseases, purifying functions, and the science of treatment and cure.

This is an excerpt from 2017 Interview with Dr Nida from www.perfumedskull.com. Group Photo from the Tibetan Secrets of Longevity Retreat 2015.

To learn more about Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa, and The Four Tantras, please join the next annual Tibet House US Retreat with Robert A.F. Thurman + Dr Nida Chenagtsang by visiting www.menla.us.

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