We are fast approaching six months since Windhorse Community Services altered the ways we function in our day to day lives due to COVID-19. The podcast Rinpoche recorded with myself, Jack Gipple, and Chuck Knapp as the moderator on March 13, 2020 remains not only relevant, but also crucial to take to heart. The first part (054) was offered by The Journal on March 20, 2020 where Rinpoche addressed our growing fears of the unknown virus with a tenderness and compassion toward ourselves and others.
In part 2 of our conversation, Rinpoche offers his heart advice on how to work with our minds when the urge may be to isolate ourselves as a means of protection. Although we are cautious not to be in person with one another, it is important to stay connected by alternative means available to us in order to feel the warmth of others in our lives. Rinpoche encourages us to realize that whatever comes up in our minds is natural and that we have the opportunity to allow compassion and kindness to arise in order to soften our attitude toward ourselves and others.
At the time of this podcast, I remember feeling my vulnerability and uncertainty of how we might be impacted as an organization and individually. Now in the midst of it, I am drawing on Rinpoche’s example of self reflection of utilizing the vulnerability, anxiety, and uncertainty as a way to connect with others who are also inevitably going through similar states of mind.
My wish is that those who hear Rinpoche’s words find some comfort and take solace in the fact that we are all in this together.
Polly Banerjee-Gallagher is currently the Director of Windhorse Community Services. She has been a part of the WCS community since 1998 as a Housemate and Basic Attender, Team Leader, and Psychotherapist. Besides her clinical roles, Polly was also the Assistant Director of Admissions until 2019. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a MA in Counseling from the University of Colorado. Polly comes from a multicultural background as she was born in Burma and has lived in India.
Jack Gipple, MA, LPC, CAC III is the Clinical Services Manager of Windhorse Community Services (WCS), in Boulder Colorado. He earned his MA in Transpersonal Psychology in 1991. He has worked extensively with families, couples, and individuals dealing with issues related to behavioral and substance addictions, as well as a wide range of mental health challenges. He taught in the Naropa Contemplative Psychology Department for a decade and has been affiliated with the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless since 1992. Jack co-authored an article with Chuck Knapp “Windhorse Treatment: Group Dynamics Within Therapeutic Environments,” in Group: The Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society. He has studied and taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan since 1985. He is a top-bar bee keeper, pinhole photographer, yogi, gardener, home orchardist, father, and husband.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche grew up in a monastic environment and received extensive training in all aspects of Buddhist doctrine. In particular, he received the teachings of the Nyingma lineage, especially those of the Longchen Nyingtik, from his root teacher, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Rinpoche also studied extensively under Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, and the great scholar Khenpo Rinchen.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche then moved to the United States in 1989 with his family and began a five-year tenure as a professor of Buddhist philosophy at Naropa University (then Institute) in 1990. Not long after arriving in the United States, he founded Mangala Shri Bhuti, an organization dedicated to furthering the practice of the Longchen Nyingtik lineage. He established a mountain retreat centre, Longchen Jigme Samten Ling, in southern Colorado, where he spends much of his time in retreat and guides students in long-term retreat practice.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s students include Pema Chödrön, the best-selling buddhist author, his wife Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, and his son Dungse Jampal Norbu. He is also an avid painter in the abstract expressionist tradition. (Bio From Wikepedia).
Chuck Knapp, M.A., L.P.C., a student of Chogyam Trungpa and graduate of Naropa University, worked closely for many years with Dr. Ed Podvoll, originator of the Windhorse Approach. Chuck was a founding member and later director of Friendship House, which was a publically funded residential treatment home for people with extreme mental states. In 1990 he co-founded Windhorse Community Services in Boulder, Colorado, where he served as a Co-Director until 2019, and currently works as a senior clinician. Through his published writings, presentations at conferences, and as co-founder and coordinator of the Windhorse Journal in 2018, Chuck continues to share his interest in exploring mindfulness-based therapeutic environments for both individual and social wellbeing.