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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 71 circulating in the channels becomes more balanced, the channels become increasingly pliable, allowing the vital breath currents to find their own comfortably smooth rhythm. Put simply, our physical body, energy, and mind are said to be the three doors through which one can practice and eventually realize enlightenment. Therefore, trulkhor can be understood as move- ments that guide the energy linking the mind with the gross and subtle bodies. This brings internal or even mystical experiences and transformation to the practitioner. Also, with the help of movements that guide the mind and vital breath currents into different areas, the practice brings the possibility of healing the body-energy-mind system, which is the model of good health in Tibetan medicine. Until recently, Westerners were focused on receiving Tibetan teachings that develop the mind, but in the last five years there has been a growing interest in Tibetan physi- cal yogas. While traditionally these prac- tices were taught and practiced only after the student had undergone many years of meditation training, some Tibetan masters now teach it more openly, like many other meditative practices, yet with the appropriate supervision. Other teachers maintain the secrecy of the higher trulkhor practices. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has based much of the trulkhor practice he teaches on the ancient Mother Tantra. You can find a very good explanation of these teachings in his book Healing with Form, Energy and Light. Ligmincha Institute offers training specifically on trulkhor that consists of four five-day retreats over a two-year period. Over the last five years, Ligmincha Institute has been collaborating with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to design and implement a Tibetan Yoga program for cancer patients, utilizing the tsa lung trulkhor from the Bön tradition. Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche follows the trulkhor of Vairochana’s Union of Sun and Moon, on which he has written a commentary that will soon be published in English. Other teachers of Tibetan physical practices in the West include Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, who teaches both public and advanced prac- tices, and Lama Norlha of Kagyu Thubten Choling monastery, where trulkhor is taught only as part of the three-year retreat. These physical yogas from Tibet have come to the West, as most Buddhist teach- ings have, through the needs of students. Feeling that mind practices lacked the “em- bodiment” aspect, many felt the need of physical movement with a spiritual compo- nent. Unaware of the existence of Tibetan yoga, or unable to meet the strict require- ments for receiving the practices, they turned to hatha or other Indian yogas. Now that many trulkhor practices are available to Western students, it seems that the magical wheel is turning. M. ALEJANDRO CHAOUL, Ph.D., is a mind-body intervention spe- cialist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He is a senior student and instructor at Ligmincha Institute. Alejandro Chaoul demonstrating trulkhor exercises PHOTOSBYMICHAELSEXTON