Tibetan Healing Initiative - a lotus illustration colored petals white, red, yellow, blue, and green.

Vision

At Tibetan Healing Initiative (THI), our vision is to develop an integrated and holistic health model for human flourishing.

Mission

Our mission is to facilitate greater mind-body health, healing, and wellbeing through the insights of Tibetan Medicine, Buddhist contemplative knowledge, and Western Science. In doing so, we are devoted to preserving, developing, and sharing Tibetan Healing through research, scholarship, education, and service.

Goals

Our goal is to develop a comprehensive and integrated understanding of human health and wellbeing informed by mind-body paradigms and its potentials. In both Tibetan healing, comprising Tibetan Medicine and Buddhist contemplative knowledge, and Western Science, there is a shared belief that a more integrated understanding of the relationship between mind and body will reveal underlying factors that inform health and wellbeing.

Tibetan Medicine has one of the longest histories of medical practice developing alongside of and in dialogue with contemplative tradition. So, Tibetan Medicine is best positioned to illustrate insights into mind-body relationship to health and wellbeing. Because of its syncretism with other cultures and medical traditions throughout Eurasia, Tibetan Medicine is well positioned to engage in dialogue with Western Science. As such, THI is committed to fostering teaching, research, and health care partnership, so as to support mind-body practice in cultivating health, healing, and wellbeing drawing from both Tibetan Medicine and Buddhist contemplative practice, as well as Western Science.

Research  

Our research and teaching are closely intertwined – they inform and shape each other. THI’s trademark course on the Ethics, Spirituality and Healing of Tibetan Medicine inspired our collaborative, interdisciplinary work on designing and validating the Tibetan Medicine, theoretical-based Constitutional Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT) and Lifestyle Guidelines Tool (LGT). These tools are employed by numerous schools and organizations in the US and beyond. In this research, we studied an individual’s unique biological and psychological characteristics using Tibetan medical theory of rang shin, and its impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing. Building on this work, we plan to show how this self-assessment and lifestyle model can translate into the way we care for long-term care and terminal patients.

CSAT and LGT are available for free. Anyone can access and use these tools anonymously here link.

Currently, THI is engaged in three inter-disciplinary, community-based projects, ranging from an epidemiological study to retrospective observational cohort studies. These projects are:

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) and Cognitive Practices among Tibetan Buddhist Monks in South India: this study investigates the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive practices among Tibetan monks: 2020-2023

Collaborators:

  • The University of Minnesota School of Public Health
  • Washington State University
  • Drepung Loseling University

 

  1. North American Covid-19 Tibetan Medicine Observational Study (NACTMOS): investigates ambulatory care for Covid-19 confirmed patients using Tibetan Medicine herbal formulations among under-represented Himalayan populations in North America: 2020-202

Collaborators:

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Dartmouth College
  • American Tibetan Medical Association (ATMA)

 

  1. Responses to Covid-19 among Rural/Indigenous and Isolated communities: 2021-2022

Collaborators:

  • Washington State University
  • UMN School of Public Health

We aim to apply our interdisciplinary, community-based research findings to initiating and supporting research collaboration across medical systems and cultures in order to provide a scientifically based comprehensive and holistic care for patients at both individual and societal levels. Likewise, our research findings also inform our teachings and community-focused educational program.

Education

Faculty teach classes, as well as conduct workshops and conferences, for the local, national, and international community. Moreover, faculty conducted two international conferences about Tibetan Medicine in connection with visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the University of Minnesota.

Watch the 2022 three-part series, Tibetan Medicine Webinar Series: Joyful Living!

Courses

Take an academic course and learn first-hand about Tibetan medicine.

  • CSPH 5315 - Traditional Tibetan Medicine: Ethics, Spirituality, and Healing. This course will introduce students to ethics, spirituality, and healing from the perspective of traditional Tibetan medicine. Traditional Tibetan doctors believe that individuals' health and wellbeing is rooted in dynamic and intricate interaction of the human's mind, body, and its environment; and the secret to sustaining such a state of health is to maintain the delicate balance of that interaction. Students will learn how to apply these principles personally, integrate them into clinical practice, and consult with a traditional Tibetan doctor. CSPH 5315 is the only prerequisite for CSPH 5318.
  • CSPH 5318 - Tibetan Medicine, Ayurveda & Yoga in India Study Abroad. While studying with experts in India, students examine the claim that the systematic practice of these traditions promotes optimal health. Using critical thinking, students evaluate philosophical knowledge, cultural practices, and scientific evidence, and propose research-based programs for integrating these traditions into personal and professional life.

 

Partnerships

The Tibetan Healing Initiative has formed strategic partnerships with diverse organizations including the Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical and Astro-Science Institute), health care institutions in Minnesota, and the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota. Recent events included the “Second International Tibetan Medicine Conference at the University of Minnesota,”; “Silence: The Deeper Dimension of Yoga” with Swami Veda Bharati,”; and “Tibetan Yoga: Awakening the Sacred Body,” with Dr. Alejandro Chaoul. Annual academic trips with students to India foster international and interdisciplinary partnerships.

International Collaboration

Faculty collaborate with international organizations in the U.S. and India. During the May Session, students travel to Dharamsala, India, to study Tibetan Medicine at the Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Students fly from MSP to New Delhi, where they can visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. Travel by Jeep to Dharamsala and study with expert Tibetan Medicine doctors at the Men-Tsee-Khang Tibetan Medical Institute. Students will have opportunities for trekking in Himalayan Mountains, Yoga, visiting His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple and other significant cultural attractions. Students return to Delhi and fly back to MSP. Discover the Center’s learning abroad courses.

Faculty collaborate with faculty from other Departments on campus, researchers and scholars from other academic institutes in the US, and Tibetan Medicine Practitioners to carry out their work involving research, education, and service.