Interview by Mary Talbot
Most Westerners don't think of themselves as having healing energy. What is it, and why do we have such a hard time getting at it?
Healing energy is positive energy--the energy of peace and joy in our minds and bodies. I think we feel our energy every day, but unfortunately it is not positive most of the time. When we wake up, there is the energy of worries, of anger, of frustration, of rushing. We think about what problems we have to face today, or that we have to get up and make breakfast. We express those energies, but they are not healthy.
How can you access healing energy without lots of training or meditation experience?
A good way to begin cultivating positive energy is, instead of jumping up and rushing into the day, to take a few minutes to lie on the bed and relax and feel the warmth and peacefulness in the body. First, feel in the warmth and peacefulness in the air, then in the upper body, then in the arms, the abdomen, the legs and feet, and then again in the whole body. Feel the aura of peacefulness and warmth like a tent around the body. Then try to feel the whole room filled with that depth energy of peacefulness and the warmth. Let the mind feel the warmth and peacefulness of the body. Morning is the best time because that's when the energy of the body and mind is calm. During sleep, there's a semi-unconscious union of body and mind. When the mind becomes fully awake, that union usually dissolves--we become disconnected from the body.
But if you can enjoy the peaceful energies created by the union of the mind and body and the awareness of that--really experience it, feel it--that is an amazing source of healing. Try to be one with that peace without grasping it, without being excited. Relax for a minute or two without any thinking. Then get up. If you do that, the whole day will start with peaceful and healing energies.
Can somebody begin to cultivate healing energy when they're sick?
If we want to really heal our life problems, we have to start when we're healthy. Generally, however, people wait until they're sick to find a cure or a healing meditation or something. But then it is really hard--maybe not too late, but certainly harder--because we're under so much stress and pressure. I have many meditations to use during illness in my book "Healing Power of Mind." Still, if we have done some sort of meditation--because any meditation is healing meditation when we're healthy and happy--then we can draw on it when we're sick. It's as if we've saved money and lose our job. We can use that money that we have saved. So it's best to meditate and create some healing habits when we are in good health or a good situation.
What can a sick person do to help aid in their own healing?
In "Boundless Healing," I talk about cultivating the four healing powers: positive image, positive feeling, positive words or thinking, and positive believing or trusting. In the case of positive image, you could begin by visualizing anything--it could be something religious or just something from nature. The image of a garden, of flowers, of plants, those are wonderful images to start with. An image brings along with it thought: You can visualize a flower and think how wonderful, how beautiful it is--but usually we keep it at arm's distance, or even a mile's distance. If we really let it in, allow ourselves to have communion with the beauty, the freshness, the blossoming quality of that flower, something amazing happens. The communion of our minds with that image has the power to improve the mind and the feelings in the body. So a visualization exercise can be a very good place to start cultivating healing energy. It is a means of changing our feelings and beliefs about our lives from a habit of negative to positive, or from neutral to positive. And that is the most important way of healing.
Visualizations are a big part of the meditations you outline in "Boundless Healing" and in your earlier book, "The Healing Power of Mind." Why is that?
In Tibetan Buddhism, we use lots of visualizations. Westerners say, "Oh, that's Oriental, Tibetan culture. We don't do visualizations. It is very hard." But in fact, every day we do visualizations. When you think about your home, you immediately see the image of your apartment, your furniture, your kitchen. When you think about a friend, you see his or her face and clothing and other details. We cannot think without images. In the same way, when we talk, we use words to express images. So, in fact, using images or visualizations is a very natural way of working with the mind.
Changing from negative to positive thinking and feeling is a lot easier said than done, no?
Of course. There are times when we have to see and think negative things. If there is something bad going on, you have to deal with it. But even when we have to see negatives, we can try to see them in as positive a light as possible. Then, one day, there will come a time when we are mostly thinking in terms of positive images and experiencing positive feelings. That is a huge transformation. It sounds hard, but it is something we have to do in order to heal our everyday life as well as our spirituality. Every minute counts. Every moment, every image, every thought, every word, is an opportunity to change our minds and cultivate positive energy.