Himalaya Project Upcoming Events

Live Crowd-Funding Event at Revolution Brewing

Revolution BrewingSunday, October 26, 2014 – Save the date for our LIVE IndieGogo campaign launch! We’ll kick off our online campaign with an evening of celebration in Chicago. Stay tuned for details!








“Jours De Tarap” Film Screenings

Jours De Tarap, a documentary film by, Herve Tiberghien, highlights the rapidly changing culture and politics of Dolpo, Nepal. This film is excellent introduction to the communities that we are directly working to benefit.

We are currently working on fixing dates with local universities in and around the midwest. Dates and times, forthcoming.

Meanwhile, check out this beautiful trailer of the film:

Click Here for Jours de Tarap Trailer

Expanding Our Team to Realize our Goals

The past year has brought much growth and momentum to Himalaya Project.

In addition to gaining our official non-profit status with the US government, we are growing our board.

Helen StreitelmeierOur most recent addition, Helen Strietelmeier, is a licensed acupuncturist with a background in biology, humanities and performing arts. Helen joins us in the role of an officer, as our board of director’s current secretary. Helen’s creative thinking and professionalism have already had an impact on our project.

And for our upcoming April board meeting, we’ll be voting on two new potential members, to broaden our team even further.

We need a strong team of people, now more than ever, to help us raise all the funds necessary to bring sustainable healthcare through education to a region in need: Dolpo, Nepal.

If you’d like to join us in our efforts, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at: info@himalaya-project.org to get in touch.

Family En Route to Kathmandu

This past month, I had the pleasure of traveling to Nepal and India with my wife, mother, and mother-in-law.

The portion of the trip in Nepal, was about spending time together in a place that is dear to me, as much as it was about us, spending time together as a family.  I can’t remember the last time I got to spend three weeks, day in and day out, with any single person.  Without anyone having to go to work/school or other obligatory engagement. So this time together, regardless of space and place, was important because we all got to spend it together.

The day we were to depart from Chicago, I unplugged.  I closed down my Facebook account, other social media. I did this because I genuinely needed a break from the interwebs and did so without fanfare. I wanted my focus to be on our immediate experiences and to enjoy them together, without the need to post, check-in, tag, and whatever else it is I typically do to waste time online.

On the flight from Chicago to Amsterdam (where we had our first long layover), I was the lucky guest on the plane whose TV didn’t work in my sardine class seat, otherwise I would have been watching films the entire time like a normal person.  Instead, I listened to some music and wrote down a few intentions/objectives for the Nepali leg of the trip while Vani and Mom chatted away like old friends.

1) Provide enjoyable experience and safety for my family and enjoy myself with them in the process

2) Meet with key Dolpopas, Amchi Namgyal Rinpoche and others on behalf of Himalaya Project

3) Enjoy time with Nepali friends, visit Buddhist pilgrimage sites, reinvigorate meditation practice

Once we finally landed in Kathmandu, we were greeted by my friend, Lhakpa Dhondrup Lama.  He placed scarves around our necks and we quickly moved out of the chaotic stream of taxi drivers pushing their rides towards the van Lhakpa had arranged for us. Lhakpa was more or less quiet and calm, as usual.

We drove quickly through the streets of Kathmandu.  As expected, the streets did not disappoint and were full of excitement, dust, crazy honking horns, things on fire or formerly on fire, and motorcycles.. a strange experiment in controlled or uncontrolled chaos, I’m not sure which. I am and will forever be completely amazed how that the cars, motorcycles, cows, and pedestrians do not hit each other more often than not.

After reaching our guest house, we got settled a bit and did the usual run out to Boudha gate to change some dollars into Nepali Rupees.  This time the exchange rate was considerably advantageous for us compared to my last visit in.  98 NR to the dollar. After changing money, we walked around the magnificent Boudhanath stupa. This was Vani and Mom’s first time here. I was beaming on the inside, watching their faces react to one of the most wonderful places in the world. Letting go of expectation and control, I did my best to let them have their own experience without directing it too much with useless words of my own. Not much happened after viewing the stupa, as we only had a few hours before dark.

In the evening, Vani’s own mother, Vinita, also joined us.  Once she arrived, the four of us and Lhakpa would go out to dinner and call it an early night.  We were all exhausted, Vani was freezing cold, and I was having trouble holding myself upright by 8pm.

Here are a few photos from the start of our trip en route to Nepal.

Himalayas Seen from Airplane

Himalayas seen while circling Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. For some reason we were not cleared to land and went around in circles for some time, giving us a great view of the mountains.

Tulips from Amsterdam

Tulips from our layover in Amsterdam, en route to Asia.

Meditation Centre in Amsterdam Airport Terminal

How cool is this? The airport in Amsterdam has a space reserved for meditation.

Movember: Men’s Health Month

Movember: Changing the Face of Men's HealthChinese medicine is very effective in treating a variety of men’s health concerns, which is why Red Coral Acupuncture treats many patients for issues such as BPH, sexual dysfunction, and mental health using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Unfortunately, many men are reluctant to seek help when men don’t feel physically or mentally well.

For this reason, in honor of men’s health, in November, Mark will donate a portion of Red Coral Acupuncture’s sales to Movember to raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health research.

“It’s like a walk-a-thon, but with mustaches,” says Mark.

So if you notice Mark lookin a little more Magnum P.I. or Salvador Dali than usual this month, you know it’s in the name of fun and a good cause.

Globally, the funds raised by Movember participants supports world-class men’s health programs that combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. These programs, directed by the Movember Foundation, are focused on awareness and education, living with and beyond cancer, staying mentally healthy, living with and beyond mental illness and research to achieve our vision of an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.

If you’d like to pledge support of Mark’s campaign, check out his Movember page at:


The Indiana Jones of Tibetan Buddhist Studies

The Indiana Jones of Tibetan Buddhist StudiesI had the pleasure of meeting Matthew Kapstein, Ph.D. for lunch this past week, which was a luncheon, two years in the making. Professor Kapstein, currently Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Chicago, spends only one academic quarter a year here in Chicago. The rest of the year he is the director of Tibetan Buddhist Religious Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Over the past two years, we’ve been emailing back and forth attempting to meet up to hopefully discuss his work, Dolpo, and other items of conversation one might wish to pursue over lunch some Friday afternoon.

As I waited for Dr. Kapstein to arrive in the lobby of the Berghoff Bar and Restaurant in Chicago, IL (he chose the restaurant, not me.. though Berghoff was somehow quite fitting as it was also my college beer of choice), I went over in my head what I wanted to ask him about and what I wanted to tell him. I was very eager to dig into our conversation, to ask him questions about how he came across an entire collection of undiscovered Buddhist works by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Dr. Kapstein spearheaded the translation of the life’s work and hagiography of this very important figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhism and I was looking forward to hearing about his experience surrounding Dolpopa.

I imagined Dr. Kapstein as a sort of Indiana Jones of the Dharma/Buddhist translation world and I told myself to keep cool in chatting with him rather than volley a barrage of questions his way.

Once we were seated, we appropriately began by talking about beer as I mentioned that the same company that made Berghoff, made Huber lager, which they used to sell by the case at the Mifflin Street Co-op in Madison and that my compatriots and I preferred this, as we also got a small return on the bottles at the Co-op. Our conversation immediately took off from there as he also attended UW-Madison, for 1 year in the late 60’s before heading to India. He started talking about his experience in Madison, about Mifflin St. and the riots that occurred there during the Vietnam era.

Conversation drifted to a few of our mutual acquaintances. Norbu, my Tibetan teacher, he mentioned, was a huge help to the department when U of C was starting their Tibetan language program. We also talked about one of Dr. Kapstein’s former students, Jennifer Chertow, Ph.D., a colleague of mine who has been offering her advice to our project as her background is in medical anthropology. Dr. Kapstein oversaw her dissertation in which she studied the changing views and practices of local Chicago-area Tibetans in exile concerning death and dying.

I wanted to know more about how he got is start in acadamia and what led him to study Tibetan Buddhism and how he initially learned to speak Tibetan as currently, as I am struggling through learning Tibetan.

While he was in India, he travelled to Nepal to escape the heat of summer and ended up meeting Tibetan refugees living in Boudha. He found his way to the Solu Khumbu region, near Everest, and as he non-chalantly stated, he learned Tibetan by playing cards late in the night with drunken Khampas. (Khampas are Eastern Tibetans from the region of Kham, known for their reputation as wild warriors and horsemen.) He continued to describe that the biggest piece to have working in your favor if learning a foreign language is the environmental chess piece. With a difficult language like Tibetan, this is even more important to be enveloped in a language as opposed to only studying grammar from a book.

It was after this experience with the Khampas and the Sherpas in Solu Khumbu that he began his academic study of the language and religion, stateside, at UC-Berkeley. I appreciate it that his first contact and interest did not come as an academic endeavor, but from a genuine interest in the people, themselves.

I told him some stories about the people on the other side of the Himalayas, in Dolpo, as I shared my story of travelling there in 2010 and again in 2011. I told him about our growing project, the Dolpo School of Tibetan Buddhist Medicine, the health care needs of the Dolpopa, and how the Nakpa lineage of Tibetan medicine is fast fading in the face of change. We discussed some ins and outs of politics, socio-economic factors, and related issues that have led Tibetan medicine to its current predicament in the face of modernization.

We began to talk about Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Dr. Kapstein had spent a lot of time and effort in translating and compiling the life’s work of this infamous Tibetan master. Dolpopa, was in fact born in Dolpo, but at a young age, travelled to Tibet via the kingdom of Mustang. He was a contemporary to the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje and the two of them got along quite well.

Dolpopa was a controversial figure in Buddhism during this time period as he was a proponent of the Zhentong school of thought concerning emptiness and the nature of Mind. (see, Zhentong)

Before Dr. Kapstein uncovered Dolpopa’s complete life’s works and biography in Ngaba (Eastern Tibet), Dolpopa’s writings were unknown to the West and it was not even known if a complete collection existed. Kapstein caught wind that a monastery in Ngaba had a collection of Dolpopa’s works and subsequently found them. This mother lode of texts turned out to be Dolpopa’s complete writings, teachings and life story.

Once he realized what he had uncovered, he phoned Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center’s founder,Gene Smith, who was completely speechless on the other end of the line. Kapstein chuckled that Gene Smith was not one to ever remain silent, but the news of Kapstein’s find took away his words.

In my mind, discovering a lost text like this, is worlds better than uncovering any archaeological object, or anything else Indiana Jones ever found in his films (especially the glowing skull thing). Writings like Kapstein’s find, contain the teachings of a master in their own words, their pith instructions, as they wrote them down, themselves. I wonder what it feels like to discover such a treasure.

Meeting with Dr. Kapstein and hearing about his process of starting as a young man playing cards with Khampas and the good that came of his interest in Tibet, inspired me to work even harder at my own language endeavors and with our project in Dolpo.

Someday, once our school in Dolpo is finished and our students all graduated and treating hopefully hundreds of patients, it is my wish to be able to assist in translation work, perhaps even with Tibetan medical texts.

Autumnal Changes at Red Coral

The transition from summer to autumn is well underway and soon cooler temperatures and brilliantly colored fall folliage will present itself on the North Shore. While this change is gradually underway, Red Coral Acupuncture and Heartwood Center have also undergone a few changes in the past month.

Red Coral Acupuncture’s New Herbal Pharmacy
In September, Mark was been busy readying Red Coral’s new granular herbal pharmacy in the newly expanded Heartwood Center. Mark is able to craft custom herbal formulas for each patient, based on their individual needs. If you’d like to learn more about what Chinese herbal medicine can do for you, let us know at your next appointment, or email at info@redcoralacupuncture.com.









Heartwood Center and Skylight Event Space Open House, Saturday, October 5th, 6-10pm!

heartwood_event_spaceThe renovation project is complete and we are delighted to show you how beautifully the expanded Heartwood Center and the new Skylight event space turned out!

We’re kicking off this new era with style. Dance and mingle under the stars with music, food and drink from our preferred vendors showcasing their offerings. As part of our new construction project, Heartwood is excited to announce the addition of Skylight, a 3,400-square-foot event space for all occasions! This space will be ideal for corporate meetings, weddings, workshops, parties, classes, lectures, and other special events.

Saturday, Oct. 5th, 6pm – 10pm
Heartwood Center and Skylight
1818 Dempster St

Come one, come all! Admission is free, no RSVP required, food and beverage, and entertainment provided.

DIY Corner: Foam Roller Exercises

foam_rollerMany of our patients lead active lifestyles.  For some this means weight-lifting, skiing, bicycling, dancing, etc.

Foam rolling is a great way to release muscle trigger points when recovering from an injury or to preventing future injuries once one has recovered.  Common areas to foam roll are the glutes, IT band, calves, hamstrings, low back.

In order to help prevent injuries from occuring during intense physical activity, I recommend foam rolling areas of concern before exercising rather than after.  By releasing the muscle in question beforehand, chances of injuring the muscle during exercise are diminished.

Check out this link to learn more about foam rolling:

Foam Rolling Exercises

If you’d like to try foam rolling, talk to Mark to see if it’s right for you.

Recipe Corner: Braised Chicken with Fennel

braised_chicken_fennelEach month we try to introduce a new recipe.  By expanding your cooking reperatoire and introducing new foods slowly over time, we’re safeguarded against becoming bored and assured tasty nourishing meals the week through.

The folowing recipe of braised chicken legs combines the taste of sweet potatoes, fellel, lemon, green onions and garlic.

Simple ‘one pot’ recipes such as this are a great way to cook for yourself while maintaining a full and active lifestyle.


Treating Disorders of the Ear

Ear-Trumpet-Vintage-Image-Graphics-Fairy.151735Recently in clinic, I’ve been treating quite a few patients whose chief complaint is related to the ear, due to various causes.

The most common symptoms that I’ve been treating with acupuncture and herbal medicine are tinnitus (ringing in the ear), blocked ears post-upper respiratory tract infection, fluid in the ear, loss of hearing, dizziness and vertigo.

Acute cases, typically respond quicker than diseases that have been around for quite some time.  There are some points in acupuncture, particularly, San Jiao 17 and a few others, which can influence the inner ear rather effectively.  A patient’s physician may prescribe decongestants or antibiotics in case of infection, but these drugs often do not resolve the patients’ symptoms.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may provide the relief a patient is looking for.

In chronic cases  as well, such as Meniere’s disease, I’ve also found acupuncture to also be useful in managing patients’ symptoms. Fullness in the ear, ear-ringing, pain, dizziness, and decreased hearing are effectively managed with Chinese medicine, minus the harsh side-effects that are present with drugs given to treat Meniere’s such as Valium, Antivert, Prednisone, etc.

Mark’s Cooking Corner: Tibetan Momos

tibetan_momosEach month, I’d like to share a recipe I’ve tried with you.

This month’s recipe is for Tibetan momo’s or dumplings.  These can be made with meat or vegetarian and a delicious food to make if having people over for dinner or a party.

The recipe for sha momos, momos with meat:

Filling: Chop these ingredients into small pieces: 2 onions, 2 inches of fresh ginger, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1/4 head of cabbage, 1 teaspoon beef bouillon

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl thoroughly

Dough: Mix 3 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of water.  Add flour or water until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.  Roll the dough out with a rolling pin as thinly as possible.  Cut the cough into round circles using an upside-down pint glass.

Place the round piece of dough in your left hand and place a tablespoon of meat in the center.

Pinch the edges of the dough circle to the top.  Gently twist.

This recipe says to steam for 10 minutes, but most Tibetans steam them for about 20 minutes, which is what I do, for food safety.

I’ve adapted my recipe from this recipe found on Yowangdu, a Tibetan culture webpage which has some other great Tibetan recipes as well. Enjoy!