Master Teacher : Joe Loizzo, Founder and Director, Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science
October 5, 2016
Joseph Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D., is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar with over thirty years' experience studying the beneficial effects of meditation on healing and learning. He is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he researches and teaches mind/body health.
He has taught science and religion, the scientific study of religious experience, and the Indo-Tibetan mind sciences at Columbia University, where he currently is adjunct Assistant Professor of Religion at the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies.
In 1998, Dr. Loizzo opened the Center for Meditation and Healing at Columbia University's Presbyterian Hospital, the first mind/body center in the U.S. to offer programs in stress-reduction, self-healing and lifestyle change based on the Tibetan health and mind sciences.
In 2003, the Center for Meditation and Healing joined the Center for Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell College of Medicine, to better test and refine the effectiveness of its programs. Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science opened in 2005 to make these programs available to the public at large.
Administrative Director of the Nalanda Institute Marlie McGovern, who was Loizzo’s student and co-teaches in the Institute’s Meditation Teacher Training and the new 100-hour Yoga Psychology Program (starts October 7th), said, “Foremost among Joe’s teachings, is the incredible capacity of the human mind and heart for learning, growth, connection, and love.”
“Joe teaches by example, fully embodying dedicated study, humble wisdom, patience, permeability, good humor, and inclusivity. He offers his students experiential access to exquisitely refined philosophical, scientific, and psychological understandings of what it is to be human, with practically implementable strategies for self-knowledge and self-healing.”
“I learned from Joe the concept of heterarchy: a non-hierarchical system in which all elements contribute to the whole, and all are valued equally for their unique contributions. Joe emphasizes sangha, an interconnected community of discerning, engaged co-learners and co-leaders, poised for positive social impact.”
Kathleen Kraft: What does your practice look like every day?
Joseph Loizzo: The core of my practice has evolved with me over the decades since I began practicing Tantric Yoga in 1979 and Hatha Yoga in 1996. In essence, I spend 30-40 minutes first thing in the morning working with an integrated system of visualization, mantra recitation and kundalini style Tibetan breath-energy work (called Tummo yoga). Every other day I add to this 20-30 minutes of private practice of Hatha Yoga based on the
Kashmiri Shaivite tradition, which includes pranayama exercises from Tibetan Tummo and Nam Yoga. During the day I come back to that practice in 2-4 short "booster sessions" of 5-10 minutes each.
The net effect is to help me tap into an inspired blissful energy and a more fluid embodiment and expanded sense of openness, compassion, and altruism, the sources of my teaching and healing practice.
KK: What are the most important qualities of the student/teacher relationship?
JL: An egalitarian mutual respect, openness, and affection; a sense of congenial values, shared mission, and purpose; a practical willingness to accept one’s own and each other's human limitations and to humbly, honestly, and persistently help each other grow as distinct emanations of enlightened awareness and compassionate embodiment.
KK: Which sutra or text is guiding you and why?
JL: In the Tibetan Tantric tradition, there are many major scriptural cycles of teaching and practice, of which four are primary--they are known as Guhyasamaja, Vajrayogini, Yamantaka, and Kalachakra.
In the Guhyasamaja (Mystic Communion) or Kalachakra (Wheel of Time), you envision yourself united with your soul-mate or better half in an earthly paradise and working with a spiritual family/community of fellow altruists to change the world around you by making waves of wisdom and compassion that heal, inspire, and transform others one heart and mind at a time, catalyzing a chain reaction that empowers all lives to heal their own world and the earth we share.
Nalanda Institute’s new 100-hour Yoga Psychology Teacher Training begins October 7th, Click here for more information.