Meditation is well known for numerous health benefits. Meditation can reduce your stress levels, lower your high blood pressure, reduce the impact of anxiety, improve your immune system strength, balance your hormone levels, and increases fertility. But one Tibetan lama claims that meditation had an even more profound impact on his health.
Meditation cured his gangrene.
Lama Phakyab Rinpoche immigrated to the United States in 2003 as a 37-year-old refugee. He had diabetes and Pott’s Disease. It got so bad that his right foot and part of his leg developed gangrene. H was hospitalized and told by three doctors that they had to amputate.
Truly, it’s not health advice many would advice against, but Rinpoche wasn’t having any of it. He is a deeply spiritual man working toward the highest possible level of Tibetan Buddhist study, the Geshe degree.
He reached out to the Dalai Lama when decided whether or not the leg should be removed.
The Dalai Lama’s response: do not amputate the leg. Instead, he suggested he utilize his meditation skills and heal himself. He prescribed additional mantras said to clear obstacles.
It was a hell of a leap of faith.
“As a Buddhist, what is the worst thing that could happen if I die?” he told The Daily Beast through a translator. “I would be reborn again. But to lose a leg in one lifetime because I didn’t try to save it didn’t make sense.”
So he meditated. He claims to have taken no medicine, nor did he change his diet. The would break for meals, but the rest of the time he spent either meditating or sleep. In the morning, he would rise and repeat the ritual.
In the beginning, a putrid ooze from his leg ran black. Months later, it turned cloudy. Then bruising began to appear. His swelling increased.
He recalled that the odor was sickening. But he felt he was getting better. Not only did the progress if his gangrene halt, but his leg began to heal.
9 months later, the liquid from his leg began to run clear. The swelling was reduced. At ten months, he could walk again. Shortly after, he no longer needed a crutch. After a year, he walked on his own.
Doctors are absolutely perplexed by Rinpoche, or in particular, his brain. People who practice Tsa Lung meditation like Rinpoche did visualize wind, or “prana,” that is one with the mind, moving down the center channel of their bodies, clearing impurities.
“This is a cognitive-behavioral practice that present East-West science suggests may be more effective that any existing strictly Western medical intervention,” says Dr. William C. Bushell, an MIT-affiliated researcher in medical anthropology and director of East-West Research for Tibet House in New York.
Gangrene is not a curable disease by current medical intervention once past a certain point in its progression. The only accepted way to fix it is through amputation, as the original doctors recommended.
“It is not entirely clear from a Western science perspective what the winds are, but the scientific evidence suggests to me and others that the meditative process involving winds includes increased local blood flow, metabolic activity, and oxygenation,’’ Bushell explains.
“The original scientific model I developed (which is largely in a theoretical state) was based on, among other things, the pioneering work of Thomas K Hunt, MD, on the antibiotic properties of oxygenation in the blood and surrounding tissues, and was sponsored by the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, Calif.
Research shows that mental imagery directed to sites of the body, both superficial as well as deeper tissues, can with practice eventually lead to increased local blood flow, metabolic activity, and oxygenation.
Such increases could in principle combat even powerful bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, which not only can be the cause of gangrene, but is now often times resistant to antibiotics.”
Doctors hope to understand what it is in Rinpoche’s meditation that cured his gangrene, or if perhaps the gangrene just somehow cured itself.