Meet the Facilitator – Tiziana Losa

Tiziana has recently completed the Building Balanced Empathy training with FDCW. She is an active member of FPMT, has been volunteering for many years and is training to be an FPMT teacher. We have asked her a few questions to shine light on her personal journey and her experience with Buddhism and Universal Education.

What got you interested in Universal Education? (perhaps taking us through your journey how you became interested with 16G and then BBE) 

I have been volunteering and working for FPMT centers and projects since 2005, and Lama Yeshe’s teachings and style attracted me since the very beginning.

Throughout the years I have followed a more traditional way of living and studying Dharma. I was ordained for twelve years, and during that time completed the Masters Program at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy, and stayed in retreat for over three years total.

Since I am in the process of becoming a FPMT registered teacher, I recently received an invitation to attend the BBE training in order to become a facilitator of this course.

My initial motivation for attending the course was more personal: a wish to receive tools to balance my own empathy. Moreover, I wanted to integrate the UE approach with what I am already doing when I lead introductory courses on Buddhism. Now I strongly wish to make this course available, especially for Italians.

How has UE impacted your life? 

Becoming a BBE facilitator gave me access to the forums and material that I find enriching for my own practice and the way I facilitate courses. It has led me to think deeply and consider how important it is not only what one shares with others, but how one does it.

When I read the UE facilitation styles and techniques, I felt I was already integrating the pedagogy to a degree in the courses I lead, but based on the guidelines given by UE I feel I can definitely improve.

You have already been teaching and sharing dharma within the prison community, please can you tell us more about these experiences? What have you been doing and what has been the impact?

Since the beginning of my journey into Buddhism I was drawn to work for Liberation Prison Project. I worked with Ven. Robina Courtin in San Francisco for a year in 2006. It was a life-changing experience. In the United States the project is mainly based on correspondence. I was the “prisoner support coordinator”, thus my main task was replying to prisoners’ first and second letters to the project. After this initial stage, if they were still interested in continuing to learn about Buddhism, they would be assigned a teacher who would help them by replying to their letters and advising books to read that LPP provided. Ven. Robina was extremely kind to me. She taught me to listen to their hearts. From time to time she would read some of my responses to the prisoners and tell me, “you didn’t listen to this guy’s heart!”. I was also reading how she replied to her students, so I learned a lot from that too.

At some point my teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggested I study the Masters Program in Italy, which is my home country. I then left the project in the States and came back to Italy where, supported by Lama Tzong Khapa Institute’s director, I initiated the project. The way Liberation Prison Project has developed in Italy mostly revolves around teachers going into the prison once a week to meet a group rather than support through correspondence. It has been flourishing thanks to amazing people being involved.

The story is long. In brief, regarding its impact on my life, it actually led me to retreat. I realized I did not have real equanimity, I learnt that I need to walk the talk. I felt that to be sincere and authentic in what I was doing, I really need to work on myself. So many times I found myself thinking, “I do not know how I can help this person”. I thought that if I develop my own wisdom and compassion, I might be able to do so.

If I consider the impact on prisoners’ lives, I think it is deep for some. Even helping one single person is a big success. I am still in contact with a couple of them which makes my heart happy.

What have you gained most from the BBE course?

From the point of view of impact on personal practice, I gained tools for balancing my own empathy. I recently facilitated a group trip to Mt. Kailash in Tibet and I came back exhausted to the point of not wanting to lead a tour anymore. The tour operator told me, “you are simply too empathetic”. And he is right, I just can’t help but be overwhelmed by other people’s problems. So, yes, I need to learn how to balance my own empathy. As always, if I do the work, it will become much easier to support other people in doing the same.

Are you involved in any projects or have plans for future projects with UE focus? I hear you are training to be a yoga teacher, do you plan to incorporate BBE and yoga together?

In terms of working on the coarse and subtle body through asana, yoga has been very important in my own journey. I focus on taking care of my body instead of abusing and neglecting it, on feeling the impact of my emotions in my body, becoming more aware of how I feel, releasing tensions and blockages, and having a more calm and focused mind to be able to look inwards.

Because of these and many other benefits, whenever possible I share this aspect of my practice with others. I promoted yoga in the prisons whenever possible, and also in the introductory courses on Buddhism I lead.

Although it will take time before I will become a qualified yoga teacher, my wish is indeed to integrate the work on the mental sphere with the physical.

How do you think BBE will benefit your community?

My community here in Pomaia has already benefited incredibly by the presence of Ven. Connie Miller who leads many successful courses.

I am involved in the support of the Italian Masters Program students here, so my wish is to present this course and UE facilitation style to them. I would like to engage in dialogue with them on how we can share what we study. The teachings of the Buddha are already universal, but how can we share them in a universal way? Or maybe best to say, in a “multiversal” way, a way that suits everybody’s individual predisposition to learning.

I hope it will benefit the Italians as a community at large. To do this I am offering my help with translating the BBE material which includes also finding suggested videos and books in our language, and by working with interpreters of other similar languages to create glossaries of congruous terminology.

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