In the summer I was visiting Tibet again, with a group of enthusiastic therapists from the Sorig Khang Interantional. In China (Tibet), traditional Tibetan medicine hospitals in Tibet function parallel to Western and traditional Chinese medicine hospitals. The patients choose where they want to be treated.
When my teacher, Dr. Nida, comes to his hometown in Tibet, many nomad patients gather from all over the region to be treated by this famous doctor. They don’t wait in line, but gather all around, take all the space in his hospital room, looking curiously at how he treats all other patients, and the others don’t mind it – the concept of privacy doesn’t exist there! I admired his precision in diagnosis, patience, endurance and a sense of humor. Even with the 150th patient on a day he was still able to joke!
We were working there as volunteers helping Dr Nida, doing all kinds of therapies for the patients and learning a lot. Cupping, moxa, massage, bloodletting, and acupuncture are practiced heavily.
The nomads suffer often from joint problems, digestive problems, and gall bladder inflammation. Their environment is very rough, cold, humid, and with big temperature differences. Their diet is very heavy and oily. They basically eat Tsampa – the roasted barley flour and yak products – meat, milk, butter, cheese, and some vegetables that grow there scarcely. Nowadays there is a wave of Western/Chinese junk food over-flooding Tibet. Coca cola and other sodas, candies, sugar start to be on daily menu, thus on top of their traditional diet and lifestyle problems arrive modern diet and lifestyle problems.
Despite hard life conditions many of them keep being happy. Those practicing Dharma – the Buddha’s teaching don’t get overwhelmed with the lack of finances and hard life.They search for the inner values, such as compassion, wisdom and joy.
Thanks to Dr. Nida we were able to visit sacred Buddhist places, unavailable to the general public. We saw ancient temples, monasteries, caves, and a yogi village where lay people combine spiritual practice with their busy daily life. These experiences were very enriching both for my medical work and spiritual practice, so I hope I can bring some glimpses of it to you.