has worked closely with Tulku Lobsang since 2002, as a
student and employee of Nangten Menlang International.
Farrah has been integral in developing the Lu Jong
Teacher Certification program, manual and curriculum and
is offering a Teacher Training at the end of April at
the Menla Mountain Retreat Center in NY. She is
continually growing deeper into the practices, learning
from her experience and from her students. Farrah has
dedicated her life to assisting in spreading the deep
wisdom of the Tibetan healing arts. Her aim is to make
widely known so that many may benefit.
NDM: Can you please
tell me a little about Lu Jong and Tsa lung?
Farrah Garan: In a nutshell, we do
these practices to achieve health and happiness. Really, it is not
any more complicated than that. Those two things—health and
happiness—are intimately linked. Not just because we are happy when
we are healthy, but because an open, flexible body actually balances
and calms our minds.
To understand this we need to know a
bit about the subtle body. Our subtle body is composed of thousands of
channels (Tibetan: tsa). The gross channels carry blood, lymph,
oxygen and nutrients. There are more subtle channels that transport our
energy (Tibetan: lung) and even more subtle channels that
transport our consciousness. When these channels become blocked—as they
naturally do in the aging process, and even more so due to wrong diet,
wrong exercise and negative emotions—not only does this negatively
impact our body functions, but it also causes a tightening of the mind
and energy. If one often feels a lack of energy, emotional swings, or is
easily stressed, these things can all be addressed by working with the
So, how do we open the channels? We do
this with practices such as Lu Jong and Tsa Lung. Lu Jong (In Tibetan,
lu means body and jong means training or transformation)
is a series of movements that rhythmically apply and release pressure to
targeted points of the body in order to release blockages. It is like
doing your own acupressure.
We have countless chakras (places where
channels converge), but there are certain ones that more commonly become
blocked and therefore require specific attention. Most important of
these are along the spine. Our spine is the energy box of our body. It
is the root from which the rest of the body branches. Just like a
battery, we need to recharge the spine and be sure to keep it open and
flexible. The spine is also where we carry emotional blockages. So, Lu
Jong focuses especially on the spine.
Each exercise targets specific points
on the channels to release any blocks associated with that area. The Lu
Jong practice is in five groups:
1.The Five Elements Movements
2.The Five Musculoskeletal Movements
3.The Five Vital Organ Movements
4.The Six Common Conditions Movements
5.Movements for Sleep and Wakefulness
The practice is also a meditation in
movement. The exercises are rhythmic, and direct our attention to our inner
sensations. This, in combination with a breathing pattern, brings us fully into
the present moment. It is indeed a spiritual practice.
Tsa Lung is similar, in that it
combines breath and movement to open the channels. However, while Lu Jong is
very much connected to Tibetan Medicine and the physical body systems, Tsa Lung
goes deeper on the energetic level, working with the subtler channels.
Tsa Lung requires special breath
retention techniques. We learn how to hold the breath beneath the navel, and
then use very specific body movements to move the energy through the channels.
This is a powerful way to not only keep the channels open and supple, but also
to develop awareness of our energy and learn to direct it. The more adept we
become at moving energy in the channels, the more we can tap into our innate
wisdom and advance on the path to realizing our clear, luminous nature.
Returning to our starting point, we
see that by doing practices we achieve health and happiness. By releasing
blockages in the channels we are able to release negative emotions and
destructive habits and to improve the functioning of our body systems. And when
our energy and awareness are flowing smoothly, we are vibrant, clear, focused
and closer to our natural state. And, as Buddhists, we know that our natural
state is pure love and light.
NDM: Can you please tell
me how these meditation practices of Tsa lung and Tummo affected you
Farrah Garan: Wow, I don’t even know who I would be
if I didn’t have these practices in my life. I have been doing a lot of
traveling lately and at certain times I didn’t have good opportunities to
practice. When I had let it go for too long I soon noticed that my back felt
tight and knotty, and this caused me to slump. The slumping made my energy feel
lower and I also found myself more irritable. I began experiencing a lack of
direction in my work. I’m not saying that I went off the edge and became a
different person—probably no one around me would have noticed the change, but I
try to be very in tune with my inner world, and there was a shift. It was like
these slight things built on one another and the knot by my shoulder blade
became connected to a lack of motivation in my work. As soon as I reintegrated
my practices, I felt calibrated and clear.
These Tantrayana practices are a
staple in my life. They have given me a compass, and a constant reminder of what
the fundamental goals are in this human life. It is so easy to get caught up in
our material goals, which of course are important, but how much further can we
get in all aspects of life when we cultivate focus, equanimity and vibrant
energy? It is about coming to truly know oneself, which is a powerful thing,
because that is when we can best serve others.
Tummo has been a challenge and a joy.
With Tummo, I have come face to face with my weaknesses and so have been able to
develop single-pointedly. The Tummo Inner Fire practice holds me to such a high
standard that without it, I doubt I would have pushed my personal development
beyond a certain point. I have a long, long way to go (after all, Tummo is a
very direct path to enlightenment!), but it is clear that just by doing the
practice, one cultivates countless beneficial qualities.
This is my life now. I teach these
practices and build teachers (the Lu Jong teacher training is coming up in April
in NY!) and I write about these things to support Tulku Lobsang’s work. This is
Can anyone practice these meditations or does one
need certain prerequisites or an understanding about the dharma
in order to do so?
Farrah Garan: These practices are
for everyone who seeks health and happiness.
Traditionally, many preliminary
practices and empowerments are required before receiving such
higher practices. Many Tantrayana teachings have been secret,
not because there is something to hide, but because students
need proper training to prevent misunderstanding or harming
However, Tulku Lobsang—in the
spirit of Buddha Shakyamuni himself—is adapting to the times and
making these precious practices available for all. Buddha was so
skilled at offering the teachings in different ways according to
the psychology of the student. This means that what is more
important than tradition is benefit. And so, Tulku Lobsang has
modified the way that these practices are presented so that they
are accessible to all people and can be implemented for maximum
benefit in these modern times.
We desperately need Tantrayana
practices in our stressful, chaotic world. We need to become
open and centered and purposeful, for the good of the earth. The
preliminaries and empowerments made sense for Tibetans, who love
ritual and tradition and whose lives centered on spiritual
pursuits. But how many people have the time and possibility to
devote years and years to complete all the preliminary
practices? We all deserve methods to open our channels and
experience the clarity and light that comes as a result.
Tantrayana works with the body.
It is scientific and empirical. No particular beliefs are
required. You simply try it and discover for yourself if there
are any positive changes in your life. If you believe that an
open body free of blockages is a healthy thing, and that having
a calm, clear mind is helpful and that an open, loving heart is
beneficial, then you have all the beliefs you need.
The only requirement to receive
these practices is the correct motivation. If you go through the
motions without really feeling it, then you receive
nothing. But someone with deep motivation and intention can
experience benefits right away.