How Tantric Science and Practice Work to Heal and Transform Our Bodies, Minds, Spirits, and World.
Joe Loizzo, MD PhD
At Jewel Heart we have been blessed to have direct personal access to the exceedingly rare and powerful contemplative science and practice of the Tibetan Tantras, thanks to the exceptional kindness of our late teacher, Gelek Rimpoche. As part of that uncommon good fortune, we are all aware of the extraordinary potential of Tantric practice for empowering ordinary humans like us to gain full awakening in as little as one fleeting lifetime. Yet the Nalanda tradition of Tantric depth-psychology and embodied healing preserved in Tibet also offers the more immediate, worldly benefits of enabling us to heal and transform the traumatic way of being we inherit—individually and collectively—as heirs to the human condition.
In this online course, Buddhist psychiatrist-scholar Dr. Joe Loizzo shares the fruits of his lifelong journey unpacking, translating and transplanting the healing science and practice of the Vajrayana tradition into the soil of contemporary life, by grafting it together with Western psychotherapy, neuroscience and social psychology. The three evening classes approach the three key phases of the Tantric path—preliminaries, creation and completion—in light of the Yuthog tradition of Tibetan psychiatry and the contemporary psychologies of intersubjective self-transcendence, narrative self-creation and embodied integration. The closing daylong retreat will put the healing insights and skills explored in the classes into practice, through shared reflection, guided meditation and embodied breath-work and movement. The aim is to help dharma practitioners understand and deepen the healing power of their contemplative practice, whether Sutric or Tantric.
Vajrayana initiation/practice is helpful but not required.
In this class we explore the psychology and healing benefits of the first phase of Tantric science and practice—from preliminaries to initiation—through the developmental lens of attachment theory and intersubjective self-psychology. We begin by reviewing the basic stages of development that allow us to take responsibility for our innate narcissism and destructive emotions, to develop accurate empathy and genuine compassion for others, and to cultivate an objective agency based on insights into impermanence, causality, selflessness and emptiness. We then survey how the uncommon preliminaries—Tantric refuge and confession, mandala offering and mentor-bonding—foster the intermediate stages of positive psychosocial development that allow us to form a congenial intersubjective bond, in this case with a Tantric mentor through initiation, then gradually undergo a transmuting internalization of that bond which prepares us for the more advanced stages of optimal human development.
Two of the essential properties of living systems like us are that we are self-creating and self-transcending. Yet in our default self-protective survival mode, we instinctively tend to close our minds and imaginations around self-limiting, worst-case traumatic constructs and narratives of self, other and world, constructs that effectively imprison us in a self-created, recurrent nightmare we take to be the reality of our selves and lives. Although some of us may be highly privileged and insulated from harm, and others oppressed and threatened in multiple ways by systems of racial, gender and financial inequity, the tendency to cling to worst fears is universal and invariably lowers our resilience and capacity to enjoy the good and resist harm. The creation stage practice of the Unexcelled Yoga Tantras offers a powerful therapeutic corrective to this self-inflicted/socially conditioned syndrome of post-traumatic suffering. By empowering us to imaginatively dissolve our unconsciously created shame-based self-world constructs and consciously inhabit empowering, divinely creative visions of ourselves, others and the world we share, our dialogue with a congenial mentor mirrors the natural creative freedom and joy we routinely loose touch with, and helps us reclaim our native genius to continually, radically rediscover and reinvent ourselves in the play of constant interactions with our bodies, beloved communities and the natural world. This psychotherapeutic science and art thus reminds us that we can transcend our unconsciously determined past, become radically open to our present, and consciously shape and reshape a future of flourishing with others in a community where all work to awaken together.
Just as our minds are tapped by our traumatic memories and narratives into a living nightmare, our bodies and nervous systems develop based on self-protective stress instincts, energies and chemistry that effectively tie them in knots of self-protective guarding, extreme reactivity and deadly lockdown. By empowering us to calm and feel into our bodies through coordinating soothing imagery, energy balancing breath-work and gentle self-massage with the interoceptive map of the central nervous system—the subtle body, the embodied yogas of the completion/perfection stage help us unknot the death-grip of intergenerational stress and trauma so we can experience and embody the lucid intuition and blissful flow that are the self-transcending core of our being. This deep transformational science and art of transforming our vital energy and chemistry from surviving to thriving thus allows us to gradually transmute our unconscious traumatic embodiment into a fully awakened embodiment of radically open awareness, enlivening interplay, and pure altruistic engagement with others, all life and our natural world.
This daylong retreat will review the healing insights and practices of the Tantras in a simplified, accessible way through a series of shared reflections, guided meditations and breath and movement exercises. The morning will focus on reviewing the sevenfold offering and unpacking how its steps cultivate the psychological benefits of the preliminary practices, the initiation process and the creative imagination stage of unexcelled yoga tantra. The afternoon will focus on reviewing the somatic healing practices (nejang) used in Tibetan medicine and as part of the subtle body training (tsalung) for the yogas of the completion/perfection stage, especially the inner fire yoga (tummo) and non-dual awareness yoga (mahamudra/atiyoga). Participants need not have a Vajrayana initiation, although those who do should feel free to ask about the mental and physical healing applications of their Tantric practice.
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$135 Member / $160 Non-Member
Pay what you can. No one turned away.
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