Founding Director – Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute Adjunct Faculty – Integrative Medicine Program Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation & Integrative Medicine MD Anderson Cancer Center Adjunct Faculty – McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics McGovern Medical School, UT Health Instructor – Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, aster of Liberal Studies program Instructor – University of Maryland, Baltimore, Masters in Integrative Medicine
Dr. Chaoul is the Huffington Foundation Endowed Director of the Mind Body Spirit Institute at the Jung Center of Houston, bringing a new approach for helping healthcare professionals flourish by reducing stress and burnout, and improving health, resilience and nourish the human spirit.
He holds a PhD in Tibetan religions from Rice University, and has studied in the Tibetan tradition since 1989, and for almost 30 years with Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, completing the 7-year training at Ligmincha Institute in 2000, and also training in Triten Norbutse monastery in Nepal and Menri monastery in India.
Alejandro is a Senior Teacher of The 3 Doors, an international organization founded by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche with the goal of transforming lives through meditation, and since 1995, he has been teaching meditation classes and Tibetan Yoga (Tsa Lung & Trul Khor) workshops nationally and internationally under the auspices of Ligmincha International.
So my name is Alejandro Joel. I was born in Argentina and I was there. I did all my elementary and high school. I started university before transferring to the United States. Argentina is a very Catholic country. I was born in a Jewish family. I went to a Presbyterian school. And and all these things are important because I was always searching. And part of my search also came from something that I would experience that I would call existential attacks. And for me, existential attacks where I’m going to die. And then what? And it was not just conceptually, it was actually semantically I would wake up sweating and feeling this and not knowing what to do. And I couldn’t find answers. Not that they weren’t there. I just couldn’t find them. But suddenly, another member who gave me this book, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, which was the life of the Buddha, I didn’t know in my first reading. I got to read it eight times before. I’m a little slow. And. But what was really impressive was this focus on the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death, and that there was a purpose for that. And so that was really in my mind, in my body. It was really I could feel there was something there. And and again, that the main method, if you want to call it one method, although it’s what they would call 84,000 methods, but what we call in the West meditation. And so luckily I had a friend in high school who’s uncle meditated and taught transcendental meditation. So that was the first, my first kind of incursion into meditation. And it was useful. And I was really into interested in meditation and different forms of kind of searching that it’s not just intellectual and. And I came to the to the United States. I came to continue my studies in communication, particularly advertising at that time. But I got particularly interested in philosophy and Oriental philosophy. And again, that led me into that. I was in a university where there were a lot of people from India. I got a lot of friends. And so when I graduated, I went to India and I went with my backpack excuse me, and I went, you know, I thought I was going to for a couple of months, I ended up being almost a year, actually nine months kind of gestation period. And during that time I was really looking for a teacher and I did get to meet people, teachers from a lot of different traditions, particularly I started more in Hinduism, but I got to meet Hindu teachers and giant teachers and Sikh teachers and Buddhist teachers, and eventually I was really interested in Buddhism, but it wasn’t direct. As I said, I did meet all these teachers, particularly, for example, with the Hindu tradition. Swamiji My Ananda was someone that was really impacting Krishnamurti, but particularly Yogi Krishnamurti and people that I got to meet and were really impacted. But then when I met the Dalai Lama, it was like, you know, and it was interesting because I was in a in in a pilgrimage in Germany. It was a Hindu pilgrimage that ended up in Kashmir. And and I was with the Muslim family, and we were living in this place called Pamper, which is a place where saffron flowers grow beautiful flowers for those who don’t know it, it’s a purple flower with two yellow pistols and one red. That’s why it’s so expensive. But we would we were 12 kilometers away from Sri Nagar, the capital, and we would bike there. And one of the days we were biking, I see in the newspaper the Dalai Lama was chosen for the Nobel Prize. Nobel Peace Prize. And I was so happy, like, if it was my mom or my dad getting it. And I didn’t know much of this man, but I had been traveling through the north of India, Ladakh, where it kind of does this little mushroom shape. And I’d seen his face and in all these Tibetan temples. And I was really impressed by the monks that they the kind of life that they lived and how generous they were, they gave me food and place to stay without asking for anything. And so I said, I need to meet this man. And I went to Dharamsala and his smile melt to be. His presence was impressive. I got to come back to Argentina, but in between I got to meet other teachers, particularly my first personal teacher, Yeshua daughter and PJ, who was a napper. He was. That means he’s not a monk, he’s a yogi. So he could marry, have family, but also live a dharma religious life. And and so I started studying with him and he gave me this particular teaching, which is called the Monro or the preliminary practices that a lot of people feel they’re a burden because you have to do 100,000 of this and a hundred thousand of that. I felt finally this is a path. And so when I went back home, I started doing it, you know, and and luckily I was able to spend 4 hours every morning in practice. And then in the afternoon I would work. And eventually that work in the afternoon was starting to organize. The visit of his son is the Dalai Lama to Argentina. And so together with many others, we coordinated the first visit of the Dalai Lama to Argentina in 92. He was Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela. And I was very fortunate because after the visit to Argentina they asked me to join the entourage to continue to Chile and Venezuela. And it was wonderful because I didn’t have so much work to do as I did in Argentina that I was never getting to really be there. And so now I was. And so it was and it was wonderful to wake up every morning and knowing that I would see His Holiness. It was actually very sad to see him leave at the last airport in Caracas. But but that really inspired me into this part of Buddhism bringing in to the West. And one of the things that I had a couple of opportunities with His Holiness in this way, and one of the things he said when I asked him What about bringing more of this to Latin America? He said, you know, Tibetan medicine, for example, is another way of bringing the Dharma in a very specific way. You know, he was always talking about nonviolence, right? And that kind of stayed in my mind. And so I came to the States, although I, I came back to the States after India. And I came at this point to do my master’s in Tibetan studies. I was really interested in this idea because I knew the practice I had been since then with other teachers, particularly Nam Chi Norbert in particular, and then Lo Potenza, Nam Dag, and then the wonder in future in the Berne tradition. So like for those who are into the Tibetan traditions, you know, from the Dalai Lama, kind of ahead of all traditions, Youshould daughter in particular was the ning my tradition. Number one picture was ZOG Chen. So even though he was taught in the sacred tradition, he was kind of more. Nimol More so chan just this great over tradition. And he knew Lupine Tenzin and he knew the Berne tradition, and he was very supportive of it in fact, right before we brought his song as the Dalai Lama to Argentina, he knew, not one year knew that I was going to New York to meet with the Lama and with others. And there were five teachers speaking before His Holiness and one was so one four from each of the five traditions. And so for the Berne tradition, it was open Tenzin on that. And when I went and saw him I was smitten. It was like, wow. And I followed him as much as I could and then I had to come back to Argentina. But that was like there was something there that was particularly important, the way he taught his directness. And what was really interesting is I continue practicing what I was practicing from your put during my nondrug, but now with the perspective of Jorg Chen both from from Nankai Norbu from Luban and, and then I in another trip to the US it was the last trip that I got to see my teacher is your daughter and picture because after that he passed away of cancer. But I also was then with Norbu and that’s the year that I met Tenzin one year. And then you wonder and he was a student of Lupine Tenzin under a very close student, but also a teacher in his own way. And so that Lhasa, that new year, I got to meet him in New Mexico and he said, you know, I’m starting a seven year program. And I said, Oh, that’s great, but I live in Argentina, I can do this. But it was a coincidence that a year later I came back to the States to do my master’s at UVA, Virginia, and someone tells me, you know, there’s a teacher here and who’s that? And you wonder, would you? Oh, I had met him, so I went to meet him and he said, Remember I told you that we started this, we starting it in a month. And I said, Oh, I’m in this program with the university. He said, You can always learn Tibetan come and I’m bringing low point in London. So I was like, oh, so I, I did leave the university at that moment, went to the retreat. And when I saw Lupine with Tenzin teaching together the whole refuge tree kind of it’s like double clicking in that. Wow. And what was beautiful was that they don’t always coincide, but it was, it was this lineage alive that they were able to discuss things that they were able, you know. So for a Western mind that you always ask me, it was great that we could write. It was not like this dogma. It’s like that. And so it was beautiful and the practices and being able to be with them and laugh with them and you know, and so I made a commitment that I will do the seven year program. And so I did. And at the same time, I continued my master’s at UVA, so and repertory became kind of a friend and a mentor. And he was very supportive of me doing that. And in fact, when I finished my master’s, he said, Why not a Ph.D.? I’m like, No. He said, You know, I’m also a rice and I’m going to go there. I was he became actually a Rockefeller fellow at Rice with Anne Klein and at Rice University. And so he said, you know, why don’t you think of that? And so I did apply. I came here and that’s how I came to Houston. And I started the program, the Ph.D. program that I hadn’t thought of. And and he was here for a couple of years. And then he left back to Virginia and he said, Now keep the center, you know, continue the center, the burn center here, which at that time was called Choon Zong, which means the Garuda Castle. But now it’s like mean to and and we started bringing different teachers. He would come every year and slowly we started also not just teaching there but I would teach for example at Rice but also here at the Young Center. And so I would help him in different courses and eventually started teaching themselves. He asked me, Why don’t you start teaching? I would also go to Mexico to translate for him in Spanish. And so we had a very close relationship that I, you know, I’m very grateful for. And at the same time, I would go because kind of the excuse of the finishing the dissertation made me have to go to the monasteries back in India, Nepal. And so I would go see Lupine Tenzin and again Nepal go to see his as I looked at him in India and got to finish my dissertation, particularly on the topic of true core on Tibetan yoga, which my last two books are on that my previous book actually was on what I did for my masters, which wasn’t true, and this practice of offering your body as a way of cutting your attachment. And so for me, these are practices that can be done on one hand very much within the tradition. But there’s also things that you can learn that you can bring in a Western context, not just for Dharma in the Western context. So, for example, while I was doing my dissertation, both Nanyang Noble Aperture as well as my dad, both had were diagnosed of a different kind of cancer. And that started me thinking, what? There’s something maybe here that I can either know help with. And so I asked Norbu empathy and I asked Tenzin Wonder wondering, you know, there’s a huge cancer center right here. Is there a possibility of doing something? And so they both advised positively and kind of we spoke about what to do. So I started volunteering. They had just started at MD Anderson with a it’s called Place of Wellness, and it was bringing different practices that can support kind of not so much the medical side, but the kind of bio psychosocial aspect. And so they said, sure, have here, let’s plan something for six months. I ended up being 20 years there. I did when I did my dissertation, I actually my were already we had published a research on Tibetan yoga with people with lymphoma. So I was becoming very, very involved in the clinical part in the research part. And so that’s what I continued. So I spent 20 years at M.D. Anderson with the Integrative Medicine Program doing mind, body spirit practices. And and then a few years back, I said, I think it’s time to expanded beyond. And so that’s when I started the Mind Body Spirit Institute here at the Young Center where we are and and doing things for not just people with cancer and their caregivers, but actually doing a lot for faculty and staff. Actually, I do think for MD Anderson, for faculty and staff and for other of the hospitals here as well. But also beyond health care in the area of community, in the area of education, in the area, even corporate. And so bringing that in those different aspects and at the same time teaching within the burn tradition and not only within the mean chain, all its 35 centers, I get to travel quite a bit, not as much as when Purdue, of course. But, you know, I get my fair share. I did before COVID, but also in another organization that you founded that is called The Three Doors, which of course means body, speech and Mind, which is almost like a lay arm, if you would. It’s like teaching these practices in a way that they don’t have to be bumped off or be Buddhist. It’s for everyone. And so that was the meeting I was just having for particularly Latin America, but also for Europe and the U.S.. I got to tell you, though, this was from. Oh, good. Yeah, there’s a lot of material there, obviously. But you were just beautiful in terms of being really passionate about what are you talking about. It’s just such a beautiful history of really, you know, sort of having a very strong foot in sort of the Western scientific approach.
So. So one of the things that the bumper tradition has of quite unique is the integration and acceptance of what we call the nine vehicles so that there’s, you know, mostly usually in the Dhamma we think of sutra tantra and in some categories see the Muhammad rods of Chan. Right? But also what about what in some they think of lower practices, which really mean for this life. Some people would even call it shamanic practices. We call them costal vehicles, meaning that there are vehicles that are supportive for this life to cross things for next life or to be able to help our consciousness move along. So things such as rituals, things such as medicine, astrology, all these things that are for this life but that are helpful for then to get into practice is of sutra translation. And so in that sense, the bird tradition is very inclusive. The other part is that because of the doctrine in view of particularly the teachers like the one Tenzin, like Tenzin wandering, but then all the others as well, they’re very location oriented, which means as low point would tell me many times when you are from that view, then all the things that you do, whether you’re doing a ritual, what are you doing matters. It’s also Chen because you’re doing it from that view. You know, there’s a beautiful saying in one of our text called the dysfunction in view of the oral transmission of Chan show and it says Power to compassion. So. Chopper Lupa right. So the view is unlimited, unbounded. The meditation is self clear, the behavior is flexible. So what does that mean? That if we are from this unbounded view, whatever we do come from that perspective, not from a limited view. And then if we are that view as we meditate, that allows us that awareness to arise and be still supported in that unlimited view, like the Great Sky. Now this awareness is like the sun illuminating, and the behavior is that whatever we come from that union of the space and the light, all those rays go in the place that our need it. And so it’s flexible in the sense not that we do whatever we want that we do coming from that place of what is needed. Like in most Buddhist traditions, we talk about compassion and wisdom like the two wings of the Garuda, right? So the two wings is this when you are in that state of wisdom and compassion, it’s not compassion that it’s thought of or directed to, but it’s compassion that comes from that wisdom like those rays of light going into the areas that are needed so that when you if it’s even for oneself, it’s not always for others, right? Sometimes it’s for oneself, sometimes for others. So if we are in the space of our heart with the sadness of someone who has passed away, we can connect with our awareness like that sun illuminating and connecting through the rays with our qualities like loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, and be with that. That’s part of the healing, the same as we bring it to others. So when we talk about healing, there’s different kinds of healing. So many times we do think, you know, again, body speech and mind body energy and mind energy kind of being the link of mind and body and expressing both through breath, but also sound, for example. And so there’s many practices of both. Tibetan yoga is one that includes both practices of what we called silence and practice that we call drum corps. One of the translations, it’s kind of breath and channels practices of channeled breath practices and magical movement practices. But they’re both really connecting the mind with the breath into the different chakras and the channels. And then through the body we call this gets a releasing clearing obstacles so that we can be back in that state of mind. There’s also practices of sound. And so these practices, by the way, you know, we did some, as I mentioned, research at M.D. Anderson. They’re published in different journals. I mentioned them in some of my books, but also sound science have been really interesting and particularly sounds that one does not I’m not talking about kind of external sounds, so syllables of what we call root or seed syllables that we have in old Buddhist traditions. Right. And the Tibetan traditions of usually and most of the Buddhist traditions, for example, the syllables that we talk about om our home in the bird tradition is our own home. And so this our home are also related to body speech and mind. But also we’ve used them in MD Anderson as a way of clearing cognitive issues due to chemotherapy. And so because also each of them have a quality. So our kind of helps clear on connect home bringing into your life. And so we did a research that we was a randomized controlled trial of woman undergoing chemotherapy that after a woman with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy and after the chemo, they felt that they had this cognitive issues and through the practices, they were able to improve both their short term memory as well as speak cognitive function. So these are some of the things through the xylem people with lung cancer and their and their caregivers were able to improve quality of life and their spirituality and also the relationship in other practices. We’ve noticed both kind of reduce what we call intrusive thoughts and improve sleep, sleep quality, sleep quantity, sleep latency, which is when you want to start going to sleep and when you actually sleep and with less sleep medicine. So overall well-being and specific things that might support your journey, for example, in the case of cancer, but it could be in other journeys as well. You have it sounds like there’s enough data to support the practice in terms of real practical benefits. And so I guess in that context, you know, and I guess in your.
Role as Teacher
So, you know, when I teach within the Berlin tradition, when I you know, I’m in that seat, I always teach based on, of course, the teachings I receive from my teachers and those blessed. But also the texts. So they’re very grounded on those texts. You know, if I teach from core, from this tradition or that tradition, I teach so long or I teach drama or, you know, whatever it is, you know, it’s from, you know, the text is there. And then, of course, from that I bring, you know, my own experience and so forth. So what I teach is the text. So it’s very bombo, you know how I teach? I bring it’s been influenced by my life, my both my education in Argentina, here by my Tibetan teachers, even probably by my Hindu teachers and maybe even by my rabbi, you know. And so so that comes. But I don’t mix it. I bring it as examples. But I wouldn’t say, you know, this is like in the Jewish tradition, you know, I wouldn’t say, okay, you do this mantra and then this prayer and another no, I wouldn’t do that. But I just bring it in terms of, you know, in my experience, this is what happened to me. And, you know, for me, I notice that from this practice, this is how we see it. So for example, when we talk about Guru Yoga, right, so, you know, yeah, it’s the union with the guru. So which guru. This one and this, it’s all. Yeah, it’s all teachers without exception. And there, there is no lineage. Right. It doesn’t matter the lineage it’s or I don’t want to so the lineage matters, but that state of mind is beyond lineage. So in that they’re not kind of fighting, hey, you get out of here. But it’s like all of them, all of them can be in that state if all the Buddha’s and I’m saying Buddha’s not just in Buddhist terms, Buddhist could be all enlightened beings from all different traditions. And so you can connect to that. So when I teach in the Dharma context, that’s that when I teach in the three doors, it’s a little less of that, right? It’s I don’t do the prayers of in Tibet. You know, when I teach in India, Anderson, there’s none of that at all. It’s you know, it’s specifically the practice. Right. And but when I do research, for example, of a specific protocol and we do you know, we do mention the texts because we’re based on that, but we do it in a secular way. So there is no necessarily all the religious parties is not there. So my intention when I teach in secular environments is really to help them be wherever they need to be. So, for example, two patients that were both and both Catholic and what they expressed is that since their diagnosis, they couldn’t talk to God in the same way they couldn’t. Their prayers were with less meaning. A were almost like a parrot, you know, saying things, but it didn’t mean. So what I did, you know, in the meditation was connecting them to themselves. So their prayer, now they can connect back to that sensation. So I was not trying to. Okay, forget Catholic come to Buddhism. No, not at all. Not at all. And the same, you know, as you were mentioned with Donovan, I mean I mean, I just taught him meditation and then he said, but where else can I get this? How can I go deeper? Okay, well, do you want are you interested in Buddhist practice? I mean, here’s a center come to me, but I never. That’s not my intention, ever. I always try and see what’s good for them in their way. And if, of course, if they’re interested. I do open it up. But I kind of I don’t bring that as my flier after the meditation. Right. So yeah, I, I really focus on, you know, I do respect each each person has their own path and and I respect that and I think that that’s important. The honoring the lineage in the same way I see it when, you know, when I write a paper and I do a citation of another paper, you know, so I think that’s important. And saying this comes from here. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to follow it from here. You, you know, so so there’s both the kind of, you know, follow in the way that makes sense to you. Now, of course, if you’re going to teach, it’s a different story when you teach, you need to know how to teach in different environments and what is the right way. And that’s another thing that tends to wonder in which has been an incredible example, and I’ve been very fortunate to go with him to so many teachings and seeing him, you know, teach the same teaching in different environments, totally different. And I’m like, What happened? It’s like, well, this is a different group, right? But but always acknowledging where it comes from. Yeah, that is that is really important.
Yeah. Yeah. And yoga today, you know, is such a broad word or what include so many things, even mindfulness today, you know, you talk, you know, so so these are big words. And so yoga, on one hand, is, of course, that sense of union. But really the word the way that it’s brought to the west, a lot of it is just the asana, the kind of the body part of the practice right now. But but in many cases, that’s a doorway into then connecting more to the breath and to the mind. The Tibetan yoga is interesting because you start by meditation and then you get into the breathing and the body. And in fact, when you look at the text. And so one of the differences, too, is that when you learn Tibetan you and you learn them both through the oral tradition and through texts. And so, you know, in these texts, it’s usually they are in the ones that I’ve taught and learned and taught, but they come from broken text and usually so for example, from the instructions of the are and from this function enjoyed the oral transmission of tension. And usually when you look at those texts, the Tibetan yoga is always at the end because they expect you to already know to meditate, to breathe. And then when you bring the movements, it’s actually you putting it all together. So if you’re just doing the movements, it could be fun. As one of my teachers in Lima says, you know, it’s like children playing. It’s fun. But it doesn’t mean has that full meaning. The reason why we call them magical movements is because the magic is those experiences that they bring. By having had the meditation, the deep breathing into the channels, the chakras, and then the movement, it’s kind of putting it all together. And what you’re doing in these practices is you’re holding the breath. So mind and breath are being held in a particular area in the body, and then the movement things up. And then you exhale. And when you exhale, you exhale forcefully through the nose and sometimes even through the mouth, which sounds like harm pit. And so what happens after that? You just stay. So the idea is not that you finish and what’s the next, but how it allows you to resettle. And each movement you do that and so you’re resetting. And there’s also another part that I think it’s very important in Tibetan yoga, in every movement, after you do whatever particular movement you shake, you steer and shake, and the text says you’re steering from the death of samsara. So that means that it’s not just your stuff that you’re steering, but it’s actually that of all beings without exception, right? And so when you’re doing that, you feel you’re steering all these things up and you’re sailing now you’re clearing not just your stuff, but that of everyone. And so, you know, you know, and some people might say, well, are you really? And partly is that, you know, you may you may be helping in some way, but even if you’re not directly, indirectly, what’s also happening is you’re clearing yours. And by doing that, then you bring that into every encounter. And so in that way, you are helping practices, you know, so there’s one way of of thinking of, as you were saying, purification practices. And in many of the Tibetan yoga text they use, these two main words get sell and Bugden so gets all means clarifying you know cleaning cleansing practices you know get means like obstacles sell means like clearing. So I actually like to say even clearing the geek, you know, because even in English sounds like, you know, so so you clear the get and the get could be physical emotional mental spiritual and then that helps you the book then means it enhances your meditative state because you know, sometimes we are in a non clear state of mind and so we do need these clearing practices first, so then we can sit. And I’m not saying sitting just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually with a little more focus, with a little more openness, clarity sometimes we are there, but, you know, we stay there for a little bit. And then again, I am right. So then you do the actual practices to clear and get back to that state. So from the doctrine perspective, even, you know my non draw from the John Tertiary and then from the sanctuary ninja, we always in a way try to get back to that state. So whether you’re doing a prostration, you’re doing, as you were saying, the nine breathing’s you’re doing mantras, you’re doing whatever you’re doing at the end. What you want is to stay, to abide in that natural state of mind, which is your state of mind, right to the state of mind of all Buddhas I’ve of your Buddha would right. And so with practices where we’re like touching it, you know, touching and losing it, touching and losing it. And so partly as we practice more, we have an opportunity of touching and staying a little more touching, staying a little more, noticing what distracts us, what are things that take us out of being able to be there? What happens when we are in difficult situations? Do we get hooked? Can we come back? And so these practices, for example, the nine readings is something that I do every day, at least twice a day. And, you know, just doing that, which takes 4 minutes, right. It’s great. It’s a great kind of reset button, you know. And I feel even more when I include practices of body like Talmud from court. And we did them in. I mean, when, when I learned them, I’d written over to the monastery in Nepal. That’s what we did. So every session we would start, of course, with prayers in that context, and then we would just sit in what we call try to write that kind of state of mind of cutting through clutter, cutting through cognitive stuff. And so but also, like anyone, after a while you can stay. And so the under the leader of the practice, which was at that time company, mind you, would stand up and do some of the tongue court and then sit again and what these Trumper do is that it’s almost that strong reset button, you know, because whether you are trouncing or whether you are in agitation, it kind of resets your system. So now you can sit more comfortably and sit back into this awareness. And so these practices are for that. The same happens with mantras, the same happens with different practices. And for different people. It’s different. Think what you need. But for me, these practices of Tibetan yoga are fantastic in that way, and I do them every day. Not all of them, but I do some every day. And then what happens is you can also do, as I say many times, like, you know, when my first book, I have something that I call the yoga in the city, right? So if we are yoga there, we’re in the city now. Right? And we are working and you know, we’re going from meeting to meeting. You know, can I do something in 5 minutes that it’s beneficial? Can I do it more than one time? Can I do something in ten? Can I? So depending the amount of time you can do that and every time you do what you’re doing is reconnecting to that state of mind, becoming more and more familiar, right? Like this word for meditation, warm, familiarity, calm. So that’s what you doing? And then eventually able to hopefully stay longer and longer in that state of mind that as we know, if we’re able to stay in that state of mind. 24 seven that’s Buddha hard right change year sun clearing year expanding. But because we’re not so we’re constantly kind of coming back and then trying a little bit more coming back. And so that’s part of practice. Yeah, I’m.
The idea went to wonder and started the three doors down. That is the idea. Although he started it with many of us that were already within the band tradition. And so the first or our after our generation, which were the first ones, you know, the ones that we started teaching also the majority were still from the burn and Buddhist traditions and slowly its getting to be less and less. And so the idea is that the essence of the practices are there, but you don’t need to be Buddhist to burn or even express in those terms. They could be in, you know, in your language, whether it’s English, Spanish, German, you know, whatever it is. And that you don’t have to necessarily bring the language of the Dharma. So that’s the ideal, of course, in between different teachers and different practitioners have different experiences. And so when they are, you know, that’s that’s kind of those gray areas, you know, similar to when I teach at M.D. Anderson, I teach totally secular. But yet if a patient comes and says, I am Buddhist, I am interested. Well, I can put things in Buddhist context. So so, you know, it is aimed that if someone wants to learn this that has no connection to Dharma, they can still do these practices eventually. There’s also a sense of and this is something that we’re talking more of the lineage, but not necessarily the lineage in the religious way, but just acknowledging like kind of what brought me to, to to practice, I was saying the connection of teacher and student. You know, when I was studying philosophy, I always thought of the academia, you know, Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and and and so that’s not religious. But there is a there’s a sense of transmission that continues. That is what I feel also. And the three doors that the lineage is still there. So there is still, you know, did you want to impart empathy has taught this, but in a secular way so that anyone can do it without being a bump or a Buddhist. So that’s interesting. So, first of all, people are more you know, it’s interesting because when we think of the benefit of this practice of right, we think of what we would call ultimate benefit or long time. But, you know, and of course, in the Buddhist term, a bompard term, it’s enlightenment, right? That’s what you’re aiming, right? But in the short term, you know, when people at the end often come to this practice, that’s not what they’re looking for. They’re looking for, you know, sleeping better, for less anxiety, for less depression, for whatever it is, different aspects of healing. Right. And in the three doors, there’s part of that. But there’s also what we call transforming our lives through meditation, and that not only we’re doing the practices, but then we have a process of how do we translate the experiences of our inner transformation into paper. We write transform nations. Transformations that have to do with interrelations. Transformations that have to do with oneself. Transformations that have to do in my work. Or you know, or whatever thing that we do for the world. And so when you put them in that perspective and then you realize, Oh, I can bring that back to the Christian right. And then I notice that, yeah, I had that conversation that I behave really badly, you know, and I maybe I hurt that person and that it’s not just about purifying, but it’s just bringing it with an awareness that where where do I feel that hurt? Okay, here. Okay. What tools do I have for that? Okay, maybe I feel it more like physical. But I feel stuck here and my heart, you know, maybe I’ll do the challenge and particularly the solution of life force that opens my heart chakra and see if that helps and see that. And then I do that for a few times and see if that is helping and noticing. Again, being really aware of what’s going on. And maybe I need to do bring some other things from that toolbox of the three doors, which is nine readings. A long the five words syllables and the five statements of our Johnson. And so and then I write them down and then give them to your mentor and the mentor. And so there’s a whole process of that, that it’s not just about the sitting and not just about the transformation, but being able to communicate that transformation so that there is a shift that is noticeable and acknowledged.
In 1999 he began teaching these techniques at the Integrative Medicine Program of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, where he holds an adjunct faculty position and for the last twenty years has conducted research on the effect of these practices in people with cancer and their caregivers. He is also an adjunct faculty member at The University of Texas’ McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, where he teaches medical students in the areas of spirituality, complementary and integrative medicine, and end-of-life care. In addition he is an Instructor at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies Master of Liberal Studies program and an at The University of Maryland, Baltimore, Masters in Integrative Medicine.
In addition, he is an advisor to The Rothko Chapel and past board member of The Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice University, and founding member of Compassionate Houston. His research and publications focus on mind-body practices in integrative care, examining how these practices can reduce chronic stress, anxiety and sleep disorders and improve quality of life. He is the author of Chod Practice in the Bon Tradition (SnowLion, 2009), Tibetan Yoga for Health and Wellbeing (Hay House, 2018), and Tibetan Yoga: Magical Movements of Body, Breath & Mind (Wisdom Publications, 2021). He has published in the area of religion and medicine, medical anthropology and the interface of spirituality and healing. Dr. Chaoul has been recognized as a Fellow at the Mind & Life Institute.