Yangyel Lhaden

To help deal with mental health issues, 15 persons with blindness were given a three-day training at the Department of Traditional Medicine Services (DTMS) last week. 

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

DTMS Chief Programme Officer, Dorji Tshering said that Sorig Zhiney and Luejong was taught to persons with disabilities because according to scientific evidence persons with disabilities were five times more likely to suffer from mental illness. 

He said after discussing the training and its benefits, the Disabled People’s Organisation of Bhutan (DPOB) was willing to try Sorig Zhiney and Luejong.

An official with DPOB said for the trial they chose persons with blindness because it was less challenging than other disabilities. “We are looking forward to training persons with hearing loss but it will all depend on budget and feedback from participants.”

Dorji Tshering said that the effectiveness of the training would solely depend on how the participants take it forward. 

Drungtsho Nima Dema with National Traditional Medicine Hospital said that of 32 steps of Sorig Zhiney and Luejong 14 steps were taught to them. “We only taught those steps which are easier  for them to perform.”   

Initially, it worried her about how she would be able to train them. “But it was not difficult  as they were attentive and quick learners.”

A participant, Dorji Wangmo said that her body felt light and that she became happier after completing the training. “While I perform steps of Sorig Zhiney and Luejong I feel my problems do not exist.” 

Another participant, Dorji said to perform exercise he needed guidance which was why he had never performed exercise. “I’m happy to take part in such training that is helpful to both my physical and mental wellbeing.” 

Dorji Tshering said that mental health was important which was why Sorig Wellness and Spiritual Health Promotion Division (SWSHPD) was reaching out the mindfulness and yoga in the Buddhist context to those vulnerable individuals.

The division has also trained front liners, counsellors, and prison guards in sorig zhiney to teach their clients and prisoners. 

Dorji Tshering said that when the situation improved, they would train prisoners in prisons across the country.

Menpa Lungten Wangdi with the Gidakom hospital, who is a trainer for Sorig Zhiney and Luejong, said that he has started teaching Sorig Zhiney and Luejong to Tuberculosis patients in Gidakom hospital as patients are exposed to prolonged duration of isolation.

Edited by Tshering Palden