Visiting Men-Tsee-Khang





Recently, we took a trip to a Tibetan medical institute and museum and learned more about the foundations of Tibetan medicine. During our visit to the Men-Tsee-Khang museum and the Medical Institute & Pharmacy in Dharamshala, we were all able to get a firsthand look at the processes involved in Tibetan medicine. This field trip was very exciting for me since I was most interested in the Tibetan medicine aspect of the program. I really enjoyed the museum, since we could look at some of the tapestries that had fundamental information about Tibetan medicine called Tantras.

The illustrations vividly explained relationships between the elements in the body and how the body must be treated. For instance, there was one tree diagram that explained the essential behaviors needed to keep a well-balanced diet and it showed 3 different colors that demonstrated how these behaviors flowed into one well-balanced diet. There were also exhibits that showed various tools used to treat different ailments such as copper cupping.

I didn’t realize that differences in the material of the tools mattered in regard to how it affected the body. For instance, copper cupping was used to improve the circulation of blood and tools made with silver and gold had other uses. There was also one part of the museum visit that focused on astrology and I found it interesting that if the exact birth date and time is known then the complete information about a person’s life can be provided similar to a prophecy.

Town where Men-Tsee Khang is located.

The Four Medical Tantras involved in explaining the anatomy of the body and different methods of treating different ailments aligned with the reading we had done since Chris Martin’s chapter on Tibetan medicine discussed how treatments are made by adjusting the element and humor imbalances within the body. For instance, if someone has a long disorder, their treatment will be centered around warm temperatures and heat. This information was further explained at the pharmacy when the doctor talked about the relationship with warm and cold potencies. He emphasized the importance of mimicking the natural environments of the ingredients for treatment or medicine, so if plants were extracted in a cold environment, they were kept in the cooler.

Allowing us to walk into the cooler and see bags upon bags of natural ingredients was another part I enjoyed since it demonstrated that it is possible to mass produce natural ingredient based treatments. As someone who grew up in a household where natural remedies were prioritized before pharmaceuticals and other drugs, I have always believed in the effectiveness of using naturally found ingredients in their most pure form or closest to the pure form as treatment. Therefore, seeing all the ingredients and machines mass producing combinations of these natural ingredients was very fulfilling. Additionally, seeing the complexity of the production that goes into making the pills demonstrated that alternative medicines such as Tibetan medicines involve a level of detail that is essential to the treatments. The doctor discussed how some pills had about 25 ingredients and plants to almost 100 in others. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this field trip and found the process of making natural ingredient based medications enticing.

During my mediations in the morning, I have been trying to maintain focus and take heed of the guidelines our professor has been giving us. Additionally, when reading His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s work How to Practice, the part on setting motivations at the beginning of the day was something I wanted to implement as part of my routine before going to meditation, but I find myself not sticking to it throughout the day. A personal goal of mine was to set a motivation to be intentional with my actions and really examine my habits to see if they are intentional or purely just out of routine, yet I find that harder to do.

As far as the program as a whole, I am enjoying the other two classes and the readings for them, especially the Mind, Medicine & Healing class. Although the length of the classes are a little longer than I am used to, the content is interesting and time passes by fairly quickly. Outside of classes, I hope to set a consistent routine of having some sort of physical activity may that be doing a few circuits on a mat or going up and down the stairs. My energy levels are easily impacted when I don’t maintain a level of physical activity and I am already feeling the effects since I noticed I am tired throughout the day.

View of Himalayas Mountains from Sarah College, where we have classes.