Sorig Zhiney Luejong trainers demonstrate to new trainees

Yangyel Lhaden

The health ministry’s Department of Traditional Medicine Services (DTMS), through funding from World Health Organisation (WHO) launched Sorig Zhiney and Luejong training for Covid-19 frontline responders in the country yesterday.

Sorig Zhiney and Luejong is mindfulness and yoga practice based on Bhutanese traditional medicine system, Sowa Rigpa, the ancient science of healing based on Buddhist philosophy and psychology.

The training aims to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of frontliners to enhance their productivity.

DTMS’s programme analyst, Tandin Chogyal, said Covid-19 pandemic had exerted pressure on the physical and mental wellbeing of frontliners.

The deparment’s chief programme officer, Dorji Tshering, said experts have proven that prolonged exposure to stress could impart immense pressure to frontliners at the cost of their physical, mental and societal wellbeing.

Health secretary, Dr Pandup Tshering, who served the southern Covid-19 taskforce in Phuentsholing for a year, said he witnessed desuups working in critical situations such as guarding out-post along the international border, working alone out of their comfort zones, and were exposed to extreme climatic conditions.

“These conditions could be physically and mentally challenging for frontliners and I personally feel this training will help their physical and mental wellbeing.”

A desuup, Tshudup Zangmo, has completed her duty at quarantine facility and will be staying in containment zone until she is posted for another duty.

She said the training would refresh her mind. “Working under pressure is challenging and I do 20-minute meditation every day. This will further enhance my meditation skills.”

Desuups said it was mentally challenging to advise people to follow Covid-19 protocols and that negative energy drains them down and they were not aware such practices could calm the mind.

They also said duty along the border was challenging.

A desuup, Sonam Wangchuk, recommended meditation over medicine.

He said whenever he was stressed, he followed Youtube tutorials on yoga and mindfulness training. “This training will surely benefit frontliners as one form of yoga and mindfulness has calmed me.”

A trainer on Sorig Zhiney and Luejong, Lungten Wangdi, recommended individuals to at least practice mindfulness and yoga thrice a month for a positive result.

The first batch of training for a week aims to train 250 frontline workers- desuups, health workers, and volunteers with Bhutan Red Cross Society.

Five batches of training will be conducted in Thimphu, Paro, Gedu, and Gelephu.

Dorji Tshering said the training could expand to other dzongkhags depending on the budget and positive reviews from frontliners.

Sorig Zhiney and Luejong was introduced in 2017 as part of wellness and spiritual health promotion programme by DTMS as a tool for drungtshos and menpas to treat patients.