Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind

with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

During the month of January we'll be reading Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind at the Tricycle Book Club. Pick up a copy and join the discussion below.

Tricycle Talks: Listen to an audio interview with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

Welcome to the discussion group. I wish you all a Happy New Year. While you are reading my latest book, Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech, and Mind, I invite you to practice the meditations in the videos that will be posted here in the weeks to come, and to share your experiences, questions, and comments with me and with each other.
The book contains a lot of information about how to enter through the three doorways of body, speech and mind. Some of it may not be easy for people new to Tibetan Bön and Buddhism to understand, some of it will be easier. But if I can condense all the information of the book into one simple message, it is that the doorways to a lighter, more joyful sense of being are always with you. At any given moment, you can use the challenges of daily life as a reminder to connect to the stillness of the body, the silence of the speech, and the spaciousness of the mind. These “three pills” of stillness, silence, and spaciousness are the best medicine one can take for healing pain at all levels of the physical body, energy/emotions, and mind. They are always available to you, and they are free of charge.
I hope everybody who participates here will see this discussion group as an opportunity to gain a deeper, more experiential understanding of what is talked about in the book. If you want, you can make it a New Year’s resolution to commit to doing the video meditations and to “taking the three pills” at least three to five times each day during this month and for the year to come. There is a real possibility you can make a very positive, lasting change in your life as a result.

My wish is that this discussion group will be not only an opportunity to read and learn, but also to reflect within and to try to connect deeply with the stillness, silence, and spaciousness. The videos themselves contain a lot of practical information on how to do the meditation practice, so I suggest that you view them over and over.

With all my best wishes,
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual director of Ligmincha Institute. Recognized as one of the few Bön masters now living in the West, he is known for his clear, engaging style and his ability to bring the ancient Tibetan teachings into a contemporary format that is relevant for Westerners.

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Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Dear discussion group participants,
We have come to the end of our month-long discussion group. I send my greetings from Lima, Peru, where I am teaching a retreat on dream yoga. There is limited access to the Internet here, so I have not had opportunity to answer the most recent questions. However, I will try to post answers in the next few days.

If you wish, you may visit https://www.ligmincha.org/ to learn more about Bon Buddhism and its teachings. You can also subscribe to Ligmincha's free e-newsletter at http://voiceofclearlight.org/ to get updates about the upcoming live webcasts, online workshops, and retreats.

I have enjoyed this opportunity to share and answer questions, and appreciate the excellent job Tricycle Magazine is doing in promoting the Dharma in the West. Thank you Sam as well for moderating this discussion and posting the videos and excerpts.

I wish all of you a successful journey in your path.


Sam Mowe's picture

Thank you Rinpoche. Best wishes for your retreat in Peru!

finnie's picture

Heartfelt gratitude for these precious teachings!
I've tried to save the video talks but while my computer tells me that I've saved them on the computer's clipboard, they don't seem to be there.
Are they available by any other means?
And, might there be a video demonstration of the tsa lung exercises that can be downloaded or purchased as a dvd?
I want to be able to work with this wonderful information for some time to come......
Again, many thanks and tashi delek!

birrellwalsh's picture

As Miriam said, I too have experienced some very strong emotions during and after doing these exercises. They seem very worthwhile, but a bit of a roller-coaster.

May I ask, also, if there are special Bön ways of praying for, or blessing, other beings and situations?

Thanks for being available for this month!

Miriamls's picture

Dear Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, I would also like to thank you so much for your teachings, your books, this opportunity to participate in this discussion, and for the possibility to watch all the podcasts online. Your teachings have been somewhat of a revolution in my practice, I was only first introduced to them when I started reading Awakening the sacred body just a month and a half ago. Since then I have been practicing the 9 breathings and 5 tsa lung every day and I am able to connect with and rest with this spacious awareness in a way I never have before.

I am wondering if you could say something about what happens when old pain surfaces. You write in Awakening the sacred body (p. 25 that “Through stillness, silence and spacious awareness, everything comes to the surface and becomes very clear in order for you to breathe it out’. After I started doing the 9 breathings and 5 tsa lung exercises I first felt a very strong sense of connectedness and joy, and after that went straight into some of the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. Could you say something about what happens when this pain comes up and some way to look at it that makes it easier to not get so caught up in it (since it seems to come up with the old persuasive storylines)?
Sincerely, Miriam

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Miriam, for the benefit of our group, I will first mention that the tsa lung practice is also described in some detail in the book we are discussing here, Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind, beginning on page 163.

As the tsa lung breathing practices open the channels and chakras, allowing freer flow of the wind, deeply blocked emotions can surface. When these emotions come, it’s important how you deal with them. To understand the best way, imagine that a dear friend of yours is in trouble and in pain and comes to you seeking help. How would you treat that friend? You would not judge or analyze. You would simply be there for your friend, be open, hold the person in your arms, give them a spacious and warm hug. Your friend would feel helped and healed as a result. If you can deal openly with your own pain as it arises in exactly the same way, your pain will feel like it, too, is being held and healed by you.

But if you look at your pain critically when it surfaces, thinking to yourself “Something is wrong with you, I don’t like this feeling” and trying to reject it, then your pain is going to be in more pain — just as your friend would be saddened by being judged by you. So, it is important to be there for your pain with openness and warmth, just as you would for a friend who is in pain.

jaullo's picture

P.S. Thank you also for the unique way you teach the Tsa Lung. It is the most powerful practice I have ever encountered in my eight years of study and practice (especially when done in combination with your special Refuge Prayer, with its beautifully wise composition). Even during those times when I have just 20 minutes to practice formally, it has been amazingly effective in so many ways.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Jillian, thank you for your words of appreciation. The tsa lung is definitely a powerful and transformative practice, and I have experienced this personally myself. You asked about being too open. When one is truly open, the decisions that are made from that place of openness, awareness, warmth and joy are going to be wiser, clearer, more real, and will give you more happiness than decisions that come from a place of pain, ego, or fear.

But when one says “too open” and “too much in the flow,” with a sense that moving with the flow might affect one's life adversely, this does not sound very open. It sounds like it is associated with a lack of discriminating wisdom, a lack of clarity, a lack of connectedness. It seems like there is fear and expectation in those words, so this is not true openness. If it is truly openness, then you can trust it.


jaullo's picture

Thank you Rinpoche, I do hear what you are saying, and it is true that when occasionally the thought about being too open comes up, it is indeed related with a temporary panic about the risks that one takes in following a path that is different from the norm in modern society -- perhaps a bubbling up of an underlying fear or anxiety about what might happen to one's career/family/income if one prioritizes the path and takes it all the way. I am grateful for the practices you teach in this book and others, which help so much in transforming fears and finding clarity.

When first raising this question during one of your retreats, your initial response about whether it's possible to be too open referred to the need to learn how to "focus in space." Later, I realized I didn't fully understand what you meant by that, and as I read and practice more of your teachings, it seems increasingly important to understand. Could you kindly explain a little more about focusing within space, what it means and how to practice and integrate that capacity? Gratefully, Jillian

jaullo's picture

Thank you, Rinpoche, for the profound wisdom and clear teachings in this wonderfully helpful new book. I am so grateful for your presence and accessibility here, on the Internet, and in general. Could you please clarify what it means to be able to "focus within space" in one's life, and how one does that, practically speaking? As a long-term practitioner who has been able to increasingly integrate practice of the dharma in everyday life -- which has involved some major career, home, and relationship transformations -- I sometimes wonder about possibly being too open (especially with regard to work, given the conditions of modern life) or somehow too much in the flow (e.g. in relationships, in light of one's biological clock) while learning to trust the universe and allow the path to unfold. With gratitude, Jillian

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Suggestions for Week 4  
This week, I invite everybody to try the simple “exhaustion practice” described in the excerpt below as a way to enter even more deeply into the stillness of the body, the silence of speech, or the spaciousness of the mind.  

See if this helps you to find more stability in the experience.

Finding Stillness (From Part 1, “Introduction to Body”)
One of the closest experiences you can have through your body of self-realization is when you are able to reach a deep place of stillness, like the stillness of a mountain. Being in this deep place of stillness can be no different from abiding in the inseparable state of the essence and nature of mind.

Exhaustion can bring you to this kind of stillness. After working a long, hard day of physical labor, you arrive home feeling utterly depleted, fall back into a comfortable chair, and relax fully into that sense of stillness. The body is still, the speech is still, the mind is still. There is a deep sense of release, of connection, of completion, of whole- ness. This is a clear example of how the pain body itself may be used as a doorway. Without practice, this experience of stillness will remain only until a distracting movement occurs. Even a simple hand gesture can lead to a loss of connection, drawing your mind back into its habitual patterns.

The distraction comes not from the movement but from your relation to the movement. This is the point of regular meditation practice—even when your body is not literally exhausted, through meditation you can bring yourself to that same deep place of release. You can relax into the stillness, abide in it, familiarize yourself with it, and over time stabilize it. Once the experience is fully stabilized, no physical movement will disturb it.

There is a specific dzogchen meditation practice in which we bring ourselves to the place of stillness by closing the eyes and contemplating all of the body’s physical actions over a lifetime, action by action, day by day, year by year. Although we can’t review our entire life in a single meditation session, we can elicit enough physical memories to bring ourselves to the point of exhaustion. The instant we arrive at this point, we release all the actions into the stillness of the moment and abide without changing. “Abide without changing” means that as our thoughts and experiences continue to arise and dissolve, we continue to rest in our own nature and simply observe without elaborating. We try not to follow the past, plan the future, or change the present. We “leave it as it is.”

This type of exhaustion practice is not limited to the body; it can be used also with the speech and with the mind. One reflects on a lifetime of speech, then releases all the speech into the silence—a deep silence, like the silence of someone who has awakened from a dream and has no words to describe it. With the mind practice, one contemplates all the thinking one has done over a lifetime and on arriving at the place of exhaustion, one releases all the thoughts into the space of pure, thought-free awareness, like a clear sky.

The stillness of the body, the silence of speech, and the spacious awareness of mind are the true three doors to enlightenment. Ultimately, one aims to connect with, appreciate, and rest in the fullness and pure potentiality of the nature of mind.

birrellwalsh's picture

Rinpoche -

Might I ask how one comes to perceive space inside of situations (thoughts, or our body, or sounds) as well as around them?

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Birrell, to understand how one can perceive space inside of situations, first consider how the pain mind looks within a situation and is able to find a problem there. The pain mind perceives pain. Similarly, if you can connect with and feel the spaciousness of your mind and look from that space into the situation, you can find space within the situation.

If you can hold that space long enough, rest enough in that space, feel comfortable enough in that space, gradually more light of awareness will emerge, from which a sense of warmth will spontaneously arise. That warmth then can actually clear whatever issues surround the situation, even strong issues. That warmth is the medicine.

birrellwalsh's picture

Thank you...
Might I ask if the light is experienced as light (with qualities like visibility, brightness and so on), or is it an expression for the experience of awareness? A lot of my experience comes kinesthetically, as body feeling. I was wondering if the visualness of the "light of awareness" is a necessary part of it.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Birrell, first of all, it’s not a question of what is necessary or unnecessary, it is more a question of what *is*. When we speak of the light of awareness, we are talking about something that illuminates darkness, that gives life to low or dead energy. When people have experiences of this light, it’s a sense of awareness, knowingness, alertness, wakefulness. These are qualities that do give light: We see life as more vibrant. So it’s not like torchlight, but more a sense of vibrancy.

jennyof9's picture

Heartfelt Greetings, Rinpoche!

The A Li Ka Li Mantra Healing Practice beginning on page 123 speaks to me and is one I would like to practice with. However, an issue I come up against in doing so, not only with this mantra but with others too, is how to properly ennunciate. It feels important to me to know the proper ennunciation along with its melody in order fully benefit from the mantra. Is there a place I could go to that has a recording of this mantra? (BTW, I appreciated the phonetic spelling of the seed syllables of the 'Ten Sounds That Heal' !)

I was initially introduced to the mantra in Tummo, and with the coming back again in this new application in your book, I want to be able to recite the mantra properly. It's presentation in Tummo was fast and it unfortunately didn't stick with me.

Lastly in regards to healing sounds in general, I completely connected with what you mentioned on page 120 that reciting a tone with a lower bass to it connects more strongly to one's self and the base of all--does that apply to the recitation of all the seed syllables discussed in this section? I find that to be my personal experience with bass tones in general.

Eternal Thanks and Blessings to you,
Jenny (and Steve)
Portland, OR

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Jenny, at one time we did have a recording of the A Li Ka Li mantra available, but right now I don’t have one. In the future there might be one. Regarding sounding the seed syllables with a deeper tone, a sound’s pitch clearly seems to bring different effects. A deeper pitch in particular feels more connected to the base of all. That’s my feeling.
All my best wishes,

jennyof9's picture

Thank You, Rinpoche! I am reminded of the message on page 141 about trusting in being guided in the skill of knowing what meditation practices are best for me presently. I am and feel so enriched and filled with gratitude on a daily basis for these Sacred Teachings and will continue working more diligently, more focused in the 3 Doors, and the few others mentioned in this book that clearly speak to me.
More Eternal gratitude for you, in teaching us How...... for providing the "bridge" on the most accessible levels. ,~j

Sam Mowe's picture

Nourishing Your Inner Being

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Suggestions for Week 3
The more you practice connecting with the stillness, silence and spaciousness, the more stable you can become in the experience, and the more you can start to notice positive, enriching qualities arising from the meditative state.

This week I recommend viewing the 90-minute recorded live webcast “Nourishing Your Inner Being” (below). A clip containing just the 25-minute guided meditation from that webcast is also available here, for those who don’t have time to watch the entire recording, or for those who would like to listen to it as a daily meditation practice.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Doreen, thank you for sharing your nice experience. I send my blessings.

doreenmaloney's picture

Dear Rinpoche,

I had a dream this morning/image of the words of my friend dissolving into space like prayers from a prayer flag dissolving into space. All I had to do is watch his "sounds" and watch them dissolve, and "be" warm, look into his eyes, and see the space there..and something clicked!!! It was a wonderful dream and I am going to "do" this, which is actually doing nothing in a very specific way....I think I finally got some insight as to how to hear the space and silence. Thank you. There is no way I could even dream this without your teachings and your retreats!!

birrellwalsh's picture

Could you say something about becoming comfortable with spaciousness?

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Birrell, generally speaking, experiences of space and openness can be very empowering and strengthening for some people. For others these experiences can be very comforting, peaceful and blissful. For still others, connecting with a sense of spaciousness can feel threatening at times, because it requires letting go of the pain body, of one's limited, conditional identity. During meditation practice you can ease this discomfort by progressively letting go of things, allowing yourself to connect and find comfort with whatever small amount of spaciousness you are experiencing, so you are gradually opening to the space, rather than immediately going fully into it.

birrellwalsh's picture

Nooks and crannies, then patios, then the back yard... maybe then the sky? OK, thank you - that seems doable!

jennyof9's picture

I just want to say a huge Thank You for asking about being comfortable with spaciousness (what I've been working on)and for this perfect 'doable' progression image! I got my much-needed message very clearly!

Selina Lim's picture

Dear Rinpoche, Thank you for your new book and for this wonderful opportunity to connect with you in this manner. Gratitude from my heart. Rinpoche, thank you for how you taught us about Stillness/Silence/Spaciousness. It has changed my experience of this beautiful world entirely, over the past 6 months. I love how your teachings are such that when I meet challenges, that's when they are there for me. And in between challenges, I get to enjoy so much. I love how you teach to listen to the Silence within and around everything, even the noise, even the noise in my head; to feel the Unbounded Space within and around my anger and my pain, and all these beautiful objects around me. I never knew they were so beautiful before. To just be in that Stillness underlying everything. Life is so marvelous.

Rinpoche, could you please say a little about why you have prescribed the white pill of Stillness for pain body. Personally, I have been working mostly with pain mind and pain speech. With pain identity (pain body), I used the Tsa Lung exercise. But sometime ago, I had a little muscle cramp and I took the Space pill, experiencing great Space within and without the cramp. And I connected with 'that place' ( Clear Light). Can we use the Space pill if the 'door' is a muscle cramp?

Thank you Rinpoche. Respectfully, Selina (greeting you from Singapore).

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Selina, I appreciate your words of gratitude. This ancient wisdom has benefited countless people, and it always makes me very happy to learn that someone’s life is being affected positively. The main reason for relating the pain body to the white pill is that in the Tibetan Bön tradition, enlightened body is associated with the white syllable A; enlightened speech with the red syllable OM; and enlightened mind with the blue syllable HUNG. It is fine to connect with the spaciousness for physical pain as you have described.

Selina Lim's picture

Dear Rinpoche, Thank you for your reply.
I have a question about the 'Inner Sound' practice described in your book. It's really, really interesting. I used to call it 'physiological sound' and never paid attention.
When I listen, I hear it. it can be rather loud and I hear it inside and outside (same sound). When I leave the sound, I don't hear it.
My question is: In the modified listening experience of the sound, can I listen to it without blocking my ears? Listening to it the way I do, without blocking my ears, after a while, I sometimes hear the sound as coming directly from The Space and I hear the other sounds, like motorcycle or building sounds, as coming directly from The Space. This is after reading your book and making the connection. I would love to do it more :)
Thank you, Rinpoche.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Selina, yes, I suppose you can do this modified inner-sound practice without blocking the ears. The point is that listening to the inner sound serves as a doorway to abiding in the silence and the nature of mind. If one is able to do this without pressing the ears closed, then that’s fine.

Selina Lim's picture

Thank you, dear Rinpoche. :)

patricia9's picture

Hi Rinpoche. I completely LOVE your new book. Your voice speaks through the text so clearly and completely. My question is regarding page 125. I have recited the Al LI Ka Li mantra as part of the ngondro I did but it was with slightly different directions. Now i am practicing as you indicated in the book, however I am unclear about one point. When you generate the lotus on your tongue with the yidam and recite Ali Kali in the morning, do you maintain the visualization all day without dissolving? Then at night do you dissolve the lotus? Or at night do you regenerate the lotus, and then just dissolve after the mantra?

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Patricia, it’s wonderful you are able to put this into practice. It is not possible to maintain the visualization all day without a break; but every now and then throughout the day, when you remember to you can try to recall the image to keep it alive in your awareness. Then in the evening, just recall the visualization before allowing the seed syllables to dissolve into light.

Sam Mowe's picture

Video: Finding Refuge Within

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Suggestions for Week 2

The 90-minute video “Finding Refuge Within” (a recorded live webcast - below) offers more depth about how to connect with the three pills of stillness, silence and spaciousness, and includes a 22-minute guided meditation. If you would like to make it a daily practice, you can view just the meditation practice at the link here.

I recommend that you continue working with the same issue related to pain body, pain speech, or pain mind in your formal and informal practice throughout this week and the weeks to come, until you are able to see some real changes manifesting in your life. As you connect with the stillness, silence and spaciousness, bring your issue into awareness and host it there. Be aware of the space around you and within you, draw attention to the space, feel the space. The deeper you can feel that opening, the more you are taking refuge in that indestructible, unbounded space, which is the source of confidence and the greatest protection you can have.

Throughout day, whenever something challenges you, try to remember to take the three pills.

georgegarvin's picture

Thank you Tenzin Wangyal. This is a beneficial and healing teaching that I can sense will complement mahamudra practice, I look forward to learning and working with you during this session. I am grateful that you are doing this, as it coincides with my just having bought Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech and Mind

Sam Mowe's picture

The Three Pills

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

Week 1: I recommend that you read the excerpts from the book here, and then watch the 17-minute video, “The Three Pills” (below). The video gives a simple overview of stillness, silence, and spaciousness. Take some time to reflect on this information. Importantly, consider bringing it into your formal meditation practice as well as into informal practice in your daily life. Some questions you might ask yourself this week are:  

• Which seems most active in your experience these days: pain body, pain speech, or pain mind?

• When do you most notice this pain becoming activated? What triggers it?

• Are you able to remember one or more of the “three pills” at least three to five times a day?

• What happens when you do so?

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's picture

To achieve a goal as big as this – recognizing your source in every experience – you need to start small. For example, if you look at the places where you feel stuck in life, you will notice that some problems seem to be completely external and separate from you – you really believe those problems are out there, that they exist in and of themselves. Then, there may be other problems that you believe have been partially created by your own mind. And finally, there may be some problems that you realize are entirely projections of your own mind. If you start with the first problems that seem so real, where you feel most stuck, you will have a hard time of it. Instead, you can start with the ones in the third category that are easier to work with. Then you move to the second kind of problems. Eventually, with practice you will come to recognize that the problems that you had first thought were completely separate and external are equally a projection of your own mind.

We spend so much time believing our problems are “out there” and invest so much psychological energy in trying to deal with those problems. We can benefit from spending more time instead reflecting on the fact that “I am part of my problem,” and spending even more time self-reflecting in the last category, where we clearly know we are responsible. The more time we spend in self-reflection like this, the less likely we will have to repeat the cycle of delusion.

mpuenteduany's picture

Wow, you are so good at getting to the heart of the matter. Thank, you Rinpoche, for the very practical advice. Maria in Fort Lauderdale

Dominic Gomez's picture

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem as we used to say in the radical '60's ;-)

mpuenteduany's picture

Rinpoche, I love this book. I love all of your books, but in this one you give an overview of a collection of really central teachings and practices.

I have a question from Chapter 3, "The Body of Light", p. 43: "If you recognize that every experience you have is nothing more than the pure energy of the inseparable state of space and light, experiences disturb you less...As long as you do not recognize your source and continue to see appearances as independent, separate entities, then you remain trapped in the cycle of samsara."

Intellectually, I believe this, I even understand it. But what is it going to take for me to actualize this concept, to realize it, to actually be liberated?