Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche is the reincarnation of the first Akong, Abbot of Dolma Lhakang. Along with Trungpa Rinpoche, they were possibly the first Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the West. In 1967, the two teachers opened the Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland, which was the first Tibetan Buddhist centre in the West. The Kagyu Samye Ling is the center for a traditional 3 year 3 month retreat where students go to learn about the Kagyu tradition. The grand opening of Samye Temple took place on the 8th of August 1988 with a commemorative plaque being unveiled by the XIIth Tai Situpa and the Rt. Hon. David Steel MP (now Lord Steel). Senior representatives of the world's religions attended. During this period of Samye Ling's development, various satellite centres and activities had come into being. Samye Dzong centres [premises without accompanying land] grew up in Belgium, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK. On another front, the interest which many therapists and physicians showed in Dr Akong Tulku's medicinal and therapeutic Buddhist skills led to the development of a unique therapy system, now thriving as the Tara Rokpa Therapy
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Tara Rokpa Therapy is a unique system of psychotherapy which brings together ways of working with the mind from West and East. It has been developed over the past twenty-five years by Akong Tulku Rinpoche, Tibetan Lama and physician of traditional Tibetan medicine, in an ongoing collaboration with a small group of Western mental health professionals (psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, art, family and massage therapists). It developed out of Akong Rinpoche’s wish to share his knowledge and insights with Westerners in a form which would be accessible to all, whatever their belief. The resulting therapy has now been presented worldwide and has evolved into a 7 to 8 year programme.
Tara Rokpa Therapy is based on a Mahayana Buddhist model of the mind and holds the Buddhist understanding of compassion at its core. It also draws upon several western psychotherapies, especially the radical/experiential constructivist approach, which holds a compatible philosophical view.
The Programme is made up of a number of different stages. The experience gathered from one stage is the basis for practising the next. Each stage of Tara Rokpa Therapy is clearly defined and participants can choose to withdraw from the process having completed as many stages as they wish.
Therapy Stage 1
Back to Beginnings is a process with a two to three year commitment, for those who have completed a course in Learning to Relax and want to go deeper into this work. It involves an indepth and systematic review of one’s life. Writing and work with art materials are the main therapeutic tools. The life story is recollected chronologically, starting from the present, back to the age of one, then forward again to the present and then back again a third time. The process is about becoming aware of habitual tendencies and patterns of behaviour, so that one is more free to move beyond limiting ways of seeing self and other.
Back to Beginnings also incorporates principles of Tibetan Medicine which relate to balancing mind and body through awareness and skill in living. There is an extensive investigation of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. This brings understanding of our total environment and the need to take responsibility for the way we live within it.
The continuing use of the relaxation and visualisations encourage an open attitude of mind in approaching both personal past and present reality. Massage and physical exercises support an exploration of one’s sense of embodiment and connectedness to others. The method provides training in maturing the mind by clarifying feelings of blame towards self and other and by developing compassion through deeper understandings.
At the end of this phase there is a short retreat which allows participants to review the time from conception through birth. This retreat is also seen as a symbolic new beginning, an opportunity to cease looking to the past for answers and to learn to trust the moment by moment unfolding of life in the present.
Therapy Stage 2
Taming the Tiger, which takes about six months, is based on part one of Akong Rinpoche’s book, “Taming the Tiger”. This graduated sequence of exercises and texts helps participants to remain in the present moment and face situations as they arise. The experience of the exercises combined with continuing group work allows an integration of Back to Beginnings and new insights into a less solid way of perceiving negative experiences.
This stage also introduces simple sitting practice of meditation with guidance on posture and method.
Therapy Stage 3
A further six months is spent working with the Six Lights practice. Arrogance, Jealousy, Attachment, Ignorance, Craving and Hatred are six states of mind that lead to inevitable experiences of suffering. Yet thinking alone about these states often does not help. Coloured light visualisations and use of particular sounds, combined with reflection are used in what is essentially, a work of inner transformation.
At the end of Stage 3, the therapy phase of this programme formally ends. Stages 4 and 5 provide a transition out of psychotherapy and onto a path of personal and spiritual development.
The Six Realms stage, which takes six months to one year, develops the use of the light and sound exercises cultivated previously. The focus is on learning to imaginatively relate to these mind states and the associated fields of suffering as they manifest throughout the universe. The range of empathy has a chance to develop towards impartial Compassion.
Taming the Tiger Part 2 returns to Akong Rinpoche’s text and over six months completes the final chapters of his book. The exercises given help one to approach suffering with less fear and more openness.
The Compassion stage of Tara Rokpa is beyond therapy. Over a period of three years those who continue, approach classic Mahayana Buddhist texts and practices in a relaxed and open way. Compassion retreats, are offered for all those working at this stage.
Read more at :
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