As Donovan immersed himself in the Texas sangha and delved into Tibetan Buddhist healing practices, he initially embraced the physical aspects of the rituals to address internal turmoil. Coming from a Western healthcare background, he was accustomed to understanding the “why” behind practices. Alejandro, the guide in this spiritual journey, occasionally conducted sessions explaining the essence and origins of their practices.

Through sessions, Donovan gained insights into practices like the nine breaths of purification. Alejandro elucidated the significance of each step, such as clearing anger or attachment, and emphasized visualization with colors. This intellectual understanding deepened Donovan’s connection to the practices. For instance, the nine breaths of purification became an integral part of his daily routine, extending beyond structured sessions.

The soul long, or Tibetan Yoga, involved five movements to activate specific chakras. Donovan found the intense energy and breath-holding involved in these movements to be a powerful way to clear his mind. The subsequent practices, including the warrior syllables and drum sounds, further contributed to this sense of clarity and connectedness. The culmination of these practices led to a contemplative meditation, providing Donovan with a profound feeling of stillness and safety, free from the chaotic “monkey mind” of incessant thoughts.


Dottie finds value in understanding the five Buddha families, recognizing the qualities attributed to each as reflections of human behavior. She likens it to the Enneagram, a tool for self-awareness. Recently, she participated in an online course led by Lama Tsultrim Allione, delving into the feminine wisdom of the five wisdom Dakinis. Dottie sees the importance of embracing feminine wisdom in today’s world, noting its power, strength, and occasional wrathfulness.

While Dottie doesn’t consistently use Tonglen, she acknowledges its efficacy, particularly in moments of helplessness. The mantras, especially those associated with Noon Tog, have become ingrained in her, offering a quick source of comfort and focus. Green Tara, in particular, has been a helpful mantra during moments of anxiety, such as before playing the cello solo.

Dottie doesn’t emphasize lengthy meditation sessions but incorporates meditation into her Noon Tog practice. She prefers shorter sessions, typically ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, occasionally extending her practice with mantras. The transformative aspect of meditation stands out to her, allowing her to find a quiet place within herself even in the midst of a busy environment, a change she attributes to her evolving sense of self-awareness and inner calm.


Mara reflects on her transformative journey and the impact of Dharma on her heart, highlighting the crucial role of heart practices in this process. She acknowledges the significance of Metta, or loving-kindness, along with the practice of compassion (Karuna) in responding to the suffering of others. Mara delves into the nuanced challenge of empathetic joy, the third higher practice, sharing her initial struggles with genuinely wishing well for others and finding joy in their good fortune.

Through Dharma teachings, Mara learned to hold the natural arising of compassion in a healthy space, navigating the delicate balance between genuine empathy and potential codependency. She emphasizes the transformative power of empathetic joy, expressing happiness for others’ good experiences, a practice that initially seemed challenging but evolved as she progressed on her journey.

Mara explores equanimity, describing it as the thumb that holds together the three other heart practices. She sees equanimity as the sense of balance that allows one to be open to the full spectrum of life’s experiences—joys and sorrows, ups and downs. This balanced perspective enables Mara to incorporate all emotions into a settled place, free from the need to control or micromanage based on personal preferences.

In summary, Mara’s heart practices, informed by the Dharma, have played a pivotal role in her transformation, shaping her responses to suffering, joy, and the complexities of human experience. These practices have become an integral part of her spiritual journey, offering a grounded and balanced approach to life.


Phyllis has recently been drawn to and deeply appreciated the chod practice, which literally translates to “cutting through.” This practice involves cutting through the personality, prompting Phyllis to examine her identification with it and gradually loosen its grip. Through chod, she gains insight into what constitutes her personality and finds a path to freedom.

During an extended retreat with Lama Taj and Rinpoche, Phyllis learned the importance of integrating these practices deeply into one’s being, comparing it to leaving a profound footprint in the heart rather than a detachable patch on pants. She acknowledges the weight of history and the transmission of these practices, utilizing the mind, speech, and body along with instruments like bells and drums to make the practice more tangible and authentic in her life.