About schoolhouse

2023 in Review

Dear Friends, Happy New Year to all of you!

Dear friends, we are very grateful for your participation and help in the activities of the Estonian Traditional Tibetan Medicine Academy and the renovation of the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School. Thanks to your help, we have been able to carry out activities in 2023.

In this review:
  1. What is the Estonian Traditional Tibetan Medicine Academy?
  2. What is the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School?
  3. How is the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School doing now?
  4. What is traditional Tibetan medicine?
  5. Why is traditional Tibetan medicine important in the West?
  6. Overview of events in 2023
  7. Plans for 2024

1. What is the Estonian Traditional Tibetan Medicine Academy (ETTMA)?

We are a non-profit organization that offers educational courses on traditional Tibetan medicine, Tibetan spiritual healing methods and teachings, and Tibetan language and culture.

2. What is the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School?

Väluste is a secluded southern Estonian region 20 km from Viljandi, on the shore of Lake Võrtsjärv. In 2015, SKI founder Dr. Nida Chenagtsang decided that the Väluste School had the potential to become a Tibetan Traditional Medicine Healing Center, offering both teaching and therapy. The Väluste school has been a schoolhouse for over 140 years. After purchasing the property, we have conducted Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM-Sowa Rigpa) courses and retreats for people from Estonia and 27 countries, from four continents (Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Sweden, Russia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Italy, Singapore, Austria, Venezuela, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, China, England, France, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Japan, Canada, South Africa, etc.).

In the long run, we aim to develop the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School into an international center, where we invite world-renowned experts in TTM and other Sowa Rigpa-trained teachers. The Väluste school is a wonderful quiet place for group and individual retreats (Buddhist practices and healing mantra practices). Our local teacher in spiritual practices is Drukmo Gyal, the main TTM teacher is Anu Rootalu-Wachsmann, and the second main TTM teacher is Hanna Väliaho, who is one of the few Westerners to have graduated from the Sowa Rigpa department at Lumbini University in Nepal.

3. How is the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School doing now?

The Sowa Rigpa Väluste School has been developed so far through personal donations, volunteer work, and course fees. Every donation has been very valuable in maintaining and developing the house to accommodate more learners. In 2023, several events took place at the Väluste school, the most significant of which was Dr. Nida Chenagtsang’s longest teaching in Estonia so far (on-site and online). The maximum number of on-site participants was over 90. In October, there was a 12-day training course for Tibetan Menpa and scholar Dr. Machik. Thanks to the contributions of many volunteers and the proceeds from the training, several works were carried out, the most important of which were the installation of new roofing material and partial renovation of the roof. Electrical system improvement, carpentry work by Matti Pennanen, Reijo Männiku, and Udhan Wimukhti Meegama. The second most important work was the completion of the renovation of the large hall. The territory was cleaned up to a new level, and Aarne Toomsalu, a man from the neighboring Mõnnaste area (also a Sowa Rigpa student), and his workers, as well as Ranno, who lives in Mõnnaste, were of great help in this activity. Two stoves and a chimney were renovated, and the work was done by Kalev, who studied at the Väluste school as a child. We continued our four-year TTM studies, with Anu Rootalu-Wachsmann as the main course teacher. Anu gave the group of students monthly courses at the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School. Drukmo Gyal conducted Tibetan language classes via Zoom in the spring. Drukmo Gyal’s concerts took place at the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School, Kadriorg Palace, and Paide Cultural Center. During the summer, there were weekly courses in Jutogi mini Ngöndrö, Daka mantra retreat, and other Tibetan and Yutog Njinghtiki spiritual practices. Uma Kovtun from Lviv Sorig Khang in Ukraine helped to further plan the territory of the Väluste school (started designing therapy houses and garden sheds). You can watch a short introductory video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX42GFAOfKo

There have been many people who have contributed over the years, especially this year.

Kristi Lehtla organized the food for the opening ceremony of the Väluste school, and the event was curated by Kaia Muhuste. Jaana Tanilsoo translated the texts of Ati yoga teachings. Anu has been translating teachings into Estonian on an ongoing basis at the courses she teaches, and Hanna Väliaho has not only given courses (the latest was Root Tantra and before that TSAWA all 2023) but also renovated the house, tidied up the forest, and helped elsewhere. The main contributor and planner in building the school house is Matti Pennanen, and whenever something doesn’t work, Madis Seinberg comes to help, in addition to doing electrical work. Reijo Männik has renovated doors with his excellent skills and made beautiful window sills. Many people participated in the clay plastering of the large hall under the guidance of Matti Pennanen: Katrin Mölder, Udhan Wimukhti Meegama (who has done a lot of carpentry work in addition to being Matt’s assistant and helping Olev in organizing, and has also made ongoing Zoom broadcasts of teachings), Kristo Tõnissoo (a lot of additional organizational work), Hiie, Kaja Kadi Sepp, Eve and Tanel, Kaia Muhuste, Argo Saluste, Reelika, Kaja Mustimets.

Mari Suviste, Drukmo Gyal, and Udhan Wimukhti Meegama have organized our Thinkific training environment, web pages, and advertising.

Mare Umal has taken care of the maintenance of the house and cooking during the teachings, and Mare’s family has also helped a lot. Mare’s daughter Liisi made meditation cushions and mats, and each cushion is filled with several kilos of eco-flax donated by Aarne Toomsalu. Mare’s husband Urmas has helped us time and again when the ground heating system has gone out due to power outages (which has happened a lot this snowy season). Mare’s husband has also cleaned the yard with a tractor. In addition to everything else, Aarne Toomsalu has left us to use his tractor."

At Dr. Nida’s training, food was provided by Andrus Margus’ company. Ordering catering from outside was a novel experience and it went well.

We would like to thank all the course participants separately, many of whom have helped a lot with catering and cleaning the premises on an ongoing basis, so we have been able to keep the costs of the students as low as possible, especially thanks to Merle Nurme, Kristi Lehtla, Kaja-Kadi Sepa, Kaja Massov, Rene from Sweden, and many others.

We planned to organize the International Sowa Rigpa Congress in Estonia in the summer of 2023, for which we did several preparatory works and created an organizing team, but it was postponed to 2024. We will continue with the organizational plans under the name Sowa Rigpa Forum, which is mainly curated by Drukmo Gyal at first, and Mari Suviste will create the corresponding website. Kristo Tõnissoo, Laura Bellandi from Italy, and Olev Poolamets will help with organizing. We follow Dr. Nida’s advice and look forward to volunteers joining the organizing team.

If you want to organize shorter or longer retreats at the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School and Jurtas, please contact us. We are making preparations for this, and Mare helps prepare food during the retreat.

All volunteer work is very welcome, and Matti, Kristo, and Olev help find where to get involved. Drukmo Gyal and Mari Suviste give advice on how to help with advertising or internet-based projects. Translation work is also very welcome. It is necessary that all texts and advertisements are in both English and Estonian. If possible, also in Finnish and other languages. Several books and texts are waiting for translation and printing.

All donations are very welcome, and we can use them to develop the school and territory, in addition to helping cover other ongoing costs. Sowa Rigpa students often have difficulty paying course fees due to changes in their life circumstances, and thanks to the fees paid by course participants and all donations, we have been able to keep our courses going and find solutions for those who want to delve deeper.

Work done in 2023

Jüri Aia OÜ Pleki Jüri completed the roofing work (installation of battens, new roofing material, running paths, stupa roof). The work has been paid for. Kalev renovated two stoves and two chimneys. Voltare OÜ carried out the replacement of a new electrical panel and the inspection and improvement of the first-floor electrical infrastructure (this needs to be continued). Many thanks to Taiko. Aamos Atlas OÜ carried out geodetic work for planning a new parking lot. We coordinated with the Transport Department to establish a plan for a new parking lot. Matti Pennanen continued to curate and execute work on the house and territory. The biggest work was the renovation of the hall. The medium room and corridor floors were refurbished, and the southern wing of the house was covered with rockwool for insulation. He was helped by several people, most notably Udhan Wimukhti Meegama and Reijo Männik. Reijo Männik renovated the doors of several rooms, made decorative strips for windows, etc. Aarne Toomsalu, along with Ranno and other members of his team, organized the cultivation, leveling, and planting of white clover on the mandala square. In addition, large stones were moved from the yard of the house to a more suitable location, and a sand-sawdust mixture was removed and transported from the second floor of the southern wing. Aarne also donated a tractor and a power generator for use. Several work parties were held to clean up the territory, and a large amount of asbestos was disposed of and all the wood material from the roof was stored. Kristo Tõnissoo, Olev Poolamets, Matti Pennanen, Aivar Oja, Reijo Männik, Udhan Wimukhti Meegama, and many others contributed. We solved problems with the water pump by replacing it with a new motor and by cleaning and inspecting the system, mainly carried out by Madis Seinberg, with the help of Aivar Oja and Olev Poolamets. Drukmo Gyal dealt with organizational issues and conducted courses, and did a great job organizing Dr. Nida’s and Dr. Machiku’s courses, mainly assisted by Mari Suviste, Kristo Tõnissoo, and Olev Poolamets. Anu Rootalu conducted a two-year course on Tibetan Therapies at the Väluste school.

Mare Umal took care of cleaning the house and looking after the cats. Mare’s husband Urmas helped with various housekeeping issues. Mare’s daughter Liisi made new meditation cushions and mats.

Overall, everyone who participated in the courses was helpful to us. Many thanks!

We also received several donations: Dr. Nida donated most of the course proceeds, Aarne donated his workers’ work, a power generator, and raw buckwheat, Mare Umal donated jams, preserves, and a large amount of garden produce for all courses, Olev Poolamets donated a garden tractor and helped pay for stoves, chimneys, and asbestos transport, and roof board material. One of Drukmo Gyai’s students donated 10,000 EUR for roof renovation (still in 2022). There were several smaller and regular donations.

4. What is traditional Tibetan medicine?

Traditional Tibetan medicine, also known as Sowa Rigpa (abbreviated as ‘Sorig’), is a traditional medical system whose roots date back 2500 years. The knowledge of traditional Tibetan medicine was historically formed by observing how nature and animals maintain balance by using plants and the environment, as well as the experiences and knowledge of doctors and tantric practitioners. The first Tibetan Traditional Medicine Conference was held during the reign of King Trisong Detsen (755-795 AD), attended by doctors from India, Nepal, Persia, Greece, China, and other neighboring countries. In later centuries (since the fifth Dalai Lama), annual conferences were held. TTM has been continuously passed down through oral and written tradition, incorporating the best parts of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. TTM is a well-organized medical theory that encompasses both physical and mental aspects.

See also Tibetan medicine: a unique heritage of person-centered medicine - PMC (nih.gov)

The spiritual aspect supports balance and harmony in the community where TTM is learned and practiced together. The main text was edited by Juthok Jönten Gompo the Younger in the 12th century. He wrote four texts known as the Four Medical Tantras of Tibetan Medicine and compiled spiritual teachings for healers and doctors, Yutog Njinghtik. They became the basis for developing healing skills and developing and expanding compassion, maintaining its authenticity to this day through pure lineage teachings. TTM uses pulse and urine analysis to treat diseases, takes into account and monitors a person’s behavior and nutrition, and uses natural remedies made from plants and minerals, as well as external therapies (such as massage, cups, etc.). Tibetan medicine root texts included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register - Tibetan Review

TTM water therapy LÕM has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa, knowledge and practices concerning life, health and illness prevention and treatment among the Tibetan people in China - intangible heritage - Culture Sector - UNESCO

See also sowarigpa.ee and attmestonia.ee.

5. Why is Traditional Tibetan Medicine important in the West?

People in Europe, America, and elsewhere in the world are increasingly interested in their country’s traditional healing methods. Traditional Tibetan medicine has similarities to Greek medicine, so TTM teachings support their interests. The beauty of TTM is that it encompasses not only humans but also nature and other beings to maintain balance for one’s health. TTM is built on the interdependence between humans and the surrounding nature. There is much to learn and use from TTM in conjunction with local natural remedies. It is important that TTM provides a system of how humans and the environment work together, a system that has been studied and applied for 2500 years without interruption. In the West, knowledge of natural medicine is often fragmented or limited to aspects of the whole. Traditional Tibetan medicine can benefit both people and modern science. For example:

  • TTM describes the properties of plants through their flavors.
  • TTM treats diseases according to their nature: cold or hot diseases.
  • TTM offers mental training, philosophies of compassion and caring for medical workers, which are (very) important for patient healing and the well-being of healers or doctors.

6. Overview of events in 2023

ETTMA organized several events this year, which you can read about here sowarigpa.ee:

  • January and February 2023 Tsawa course with Hanna Väliaho
  • March 2023 Basics of Treatment. Physician Ethics in Sowa Rigpa
  • Monthly Drukmo Gyal Tibetan language lessons on Zoom in winter, spring 2023
  • In June, Dr. Nida Chenagtsang’s teachings took place, including 3 days of Jutog Njinghtiki full consecrations, 5 days of Ati Yoga, and 5 days of Geg Sel teachings.
  • In June, the Väluste Sowa Rigpa School was blessed and opened by Dr. Nida Chenagtsang.
  • Mini Ngöndrö and mantra practices were held on weekends in July and August.
  • In August, the TTM 4-year training Diagnostic course took place.
  • In September, a 7-day Jutog Njinghtik Ngöndrö was held, conducted by Anu Rootalu.
  • In September, Root Tantra teachings were held by Hanna Väliaho.
  • In October, Dr. Machick TSAWA teachings for advanced students took place, while Tibetan yogini Takji Drolma visited.
  • In December, the first part of the Materia Medica course took place.
  • The two-year TTM therapy courses, which were conducted and organized by Anu Rootalu, were held at the Väluste School.
  • Some people conducted individual retreats at the Väluste School.

7. Plans for 2024

  • Fundraising for the completion and delivery of the Jutog statue. Resource collection for the renovation of the house and territory.
  • Finalizing the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School plan in collaboration with Leena Torim and Uma and further project coordination with the municipality.
  • Continuing with the house insulation work.
  • Starting the construction of garden sheds.
  • Improving the sewage system. During larger trainings, the sewage system fills up quickly, and constant emptying is a significant cost and logistically very difficult to organize. The optimal new solution is still unclear. It depends on official regulations (which will be determined together with the coordination of the house territory project), resources, and partners.
  • Continuing with the house renovation work. The plan is to continue with the construction of the second floor, making stairs to the medium room, and other finishing work. The work depends on financial and human resources. We will definitely continue our activities.
  • Cleaning up the territory. Our great helper Aarne Toomsalu is ill, and we wish him a speedy recovery. It is necessary to continue cleaning up the territory. This activity depends on volunteer contributions.
  • Building a new parking lot. It depends on whether there is sufficient financial resources.
  • Starting a library and shop. Kristo Tõnissoo will help coordinate.
  • Developing curricula, teaching materials, and clearer organization of the training system. Kristo Tõnissoo and others.

2024 events

In 2024, Sowa Rigpa Väluste School plans to offer various events. Please follow our website at www.sowarigpa.ee for more information.

The second part of the Materia Medica course, which is part of the 4-year TTM course, will take place on January 12-14.

Various weekend courses will be held at the Sowa Rigpa Väluste School.

Kunje massage courses will take place on April 9-14 under the guidance of Anu Rootalu at the Väluste School.

Starting in January, Drukmo Gyal will hold spiritual practice classes on Wednesdays on Zoom.

Dr. Nida’s teachings will take place at the Väluste School from June 6-12.

The Sowa Rigpa Forum is planned for June 14-16. The 4-year TTM course will continue. Please follow our schedule and planned events at www.sowarigpa.ee.

We appreciate all your help and donations! If you are interested in our events, please feel free to participate. You are part of our Sowa Rigpa Väluste School community!

Bank details for donations:

Name: MTÜ Eesti Tiibeti Traditsioonilise Meditsiini Akadeemia
Address: Väluste kool, Väluste küla, Viljandi vald, Viljandi maakond, Eesti, 69704
Reg. no. 80351469
Account number: SEB a/a EE601010220215443222
Reference: Donation

ETTMA board members Olev Poolamets, Drukmo Gyal, Kristo Tõnissoo and Mari Suviste
Estonian Academy of Traditional Tibetan Medicine
Sowarigpa.ee http://www.attmestonia.ee