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Tibet - Lhasa


By Debra Denker BANTS, CHTP/I

"When I was told that there would be people coming to teach Healing Touch, I thought it would be something like yoga," says Sonam Lhamo, a staff member at One HEART, an organization providing maternal-child healthcare and skilled birth attendant training in the region around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

"So when I attended the training," she continues, "at first I found it strange and amusing, people lying on the table and healers using the hands. But gradually I thought, there's definitely this energy, and it is definitely science. So I learned that there is energy, and that it can be harmonized through Healing Touch."

Healing Touch extended its outreach into the Tibetan world in the summer of 2006 when a team including myself as instructor and three Healing Touch students journeyed to Lhasa. Like the previous ventures into Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, this trip was the vision of Canadian Tekla Fulton, R.N., a Healing Touch level 4 student and retired psych nurse from the Vancouverarea. Tekla facilitates volunteer service travel to South and Himalayan Asia through her organization, Unknown Sages, and knowing my decades-long connection with Tibet, asked me to teach there.

Under the auspices of Perception, the non-profit that sponsors my Tibetan Video Archive Project, I agreed to teach as well as document our travels and work. My friend Gail Watanabe, CHTI, held a fund-raiser in the Los Angeles area to make my trip possible.

Tekla had previously assisted at Level 1's in India and Kathmandu Nepal, both of which have large concentrations of Tibetans. Besides her and myself, our team included Page Herring, a Level 1 student from who is a longtime midwife and commercial fisherman, and Ugyen Tsewang, a young Tibetan man who had taken Level 2 in India.

When Tekla and I arrived in Lhasa in August, we began following up on groundwork laid by e-mail over a period of months. When Ugyen joined us a few days later, his background in Healing Touch coupled with his translation skills proved invaluable in our presentations to the directors of the Mendzikhang---the Traditional Tibetan Medicine College where the hospital's doctors are trained. We were unable to offer a Level 1 this year because the College was on summer break and the hospital required a number of official permissions which would take more time than we could stay in Tibel this year.

We began offering treatments, in our hotel room in Lhasa and wherever we went, from a local nunnery to remote villages. Page and I worked with a sick baby in a tent at Nam Tso, a spectacular tidal lake at nearly 15,000 feet. Despite her altitude headache, Page felt compelled to seek out the infant whose distressed cries she had heard all night.  

Our goal of teaching Healing Touch was realized when we approached One HEART at the suggestion of my friend Guru Chokyi, a young woman who had translated for the health care team I had traveled with to a remote region of Eastern Tibet in 2005. When I e-mailed Guru, who is now studying in the Philippines, that I was in Lhasa looking for a place to teach, she suggested that we contact her former boss, Pasang Tsering, Tibet Program Director for One HEART.

Pasang and his colleague Tseten Dolkar, coordinator of the Skilled Birth Attendant Program, immediately saw the value of Healing Touch for their staff. In the summer the six staff members go out into the field each week to implement programs such as training skilled birth attendants to address Tibet's high rate of infant and maternal mortality, and basic health care training including improved nutrition through the TSAMPA program and pre-natal and maternal-child health awareness through PAVOT, the Patient and Village Outreach Tibet program.

Upon receiving clearance from One HEART's home office in Salt Lake City, Utah, Pasang scheduled a one-day training with us. Regretfully, the busy field season meant that the staff couldn't take a full Level 1, so I brainstormed with Tekla, Page, and Ugyen about which techniques would be most useful to our students until we could return to teach them Level 1, part 2, hopefully next year.

Our six students were attentive and curious, serious yet good-humored. Though they are not full-time medical professionals, they are all active in health care outreach and have knowledge and experience in the field. At first they were skeptical of the pendulum, but when it came time for practice they each had validating experiences with assessing, treating, and receiving energy. 

"I don't think it is magic," says PAVOT project manager Pema Choezom about her HT experience. "I think it is related to science. I believe that everybody has this energy in themselves. When I attended the training, I thought it is very similar to Tibetan Medicine. It is not something strange that we have never heard of. I think there should be process training like this in every work place." 

At the end of the day, I presented each student with a kata, a traditional white silk honoring scarf, along with a certificate for completing the first 8 hours of Level 1. The students then thanked our team by presenting each of us with a kata. 

All the students expressed interest in continuing their HT training next year, beginning with Part 2 of Level 1 and perhaps going on to Level 2. They intend to use the techniques in their work, with each other and in their family lives.  

PAVOT coordinator Renzin sees the value of his HT training in the big picture: "I hope this Healing Touch will be available in all parts of the world, and I hope and pray that people around the world where there is a lot of need will be able to have this opportunity to learn and practice."