Method of the Nâm Retreat
~ A text by Yoginâm ~
Observing regular periods of silence can be very beneficial. The modern lifestyle with its flow of impulses often allows for little space to wind down. And yet such winding down is very important for the system. Without it the arranging and digesting of both the conscious and unconscious impulses remains incomplete. This may result in stress, anxiety, burnout, loss of sense, depression and a host of other problems.
Nam Silent Retreats are a solution. However, sudden silence for a number of days can also be very stressful, particularly when you are not used to ‘doing nothing’. Meditation is just another word for doing nothing. Because doing nothing can be difficult, people have the tendency to fill this space with all kinds of ‘exercises’, in which the beneficial aspect of the meditation may get lost.
It is natural that, whenever you sit down and close your eyes for meditation, the mind takes
over. It may run wild with all kinds of ideas and projects. Consequently there is no meditation, there is no unwinding and instead of becoming tranquil you may become tired and stressed. Your living environment makes a difference in whether you easily reach a state of meditation or not. Just because most people nowadays live in an environment that is heavily charged with impulses, a period of silence offers a relief. For this reason the Nâm Retreat has been developed. Such a retreat lasts five to ten days.
The Framework of the Nâm Retreat
A worldview that is rooted in certainty is the seed of Well-Being. True certainty, which should not be confused with the surrogate certainties of rational thinking and emotion, en-riches not only your individual life but by means of its resonance, it influences human living as a whole. In this way individual certainty can contribute to a better world.
The certainty, that transcends rationality and emotion, is called Nâm. All spiritual traditions in the word find their origin in the quest for Nâm. They may differ in methods, imaginary and language but their objective is the same: The transcendence of the human being from the limited state toward the Nâm of your True Nature. This requires a knowing of oneself that transcends considerations of rational and emotional analysis.
The Three A’S:
In the LivingNâm the Three A’s are an instrument to establish a worldview and a way of behaviour that can contribute to a better world.
1. Abbah: the unknowable Essence of All
2. Asha: the face of Abbah, the natural course of life
3. Attunement: the attuning to the resonance of Abbah in Asha.
These three principles are interconnected. Asha is the visibility of Abbah. Though Abbah is ultimately unknowable, it becomes knowable for us in Asha. Attunement is the way how to deal with Asha in such a way that behaviour and attitudes are conforming to the ultimate Abbah. Abbah, Asha and Attunement are simultaneous. You cannot speak about Abbah without Attunement. Consequently we have to measure our attitudes and behaviour, which means Attunement, to Asha and Abbah.
LivingNâm is exemplified in the Nâm Manifesto:
LivingNâm is the culmination of the ancient tradition in which the realisation of Abbah, Asha and Attunement leads to a way of living that generates Well-being for the individual and for the environment of living as a whole.
In the Certainty that Abbah is One and Asha demonstrates the interconnected, in which individual activities, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, desires and opinions, by means of their resonance, affect the entirety of the interconnected Oneness, we chose to live according to this manifesto for the purpose of improvement of life on this planet, for the quality of which we, as human beings, are fully responsible.
The Instruments of Nâm Retreat
In the atmosphere that is created by means of the instruments, the established habitual programmes are shaken so that a new balance can be established. This makes a Nâm Retreat special and very different from other retreats.
Meditation is not just a matter of sitting down on the floor with crossed legs. Meditation is a state of mind that can be maintained in a sitting position but also while walking or reclining.
During a Nâm Retreat there are five daily periods of sitting in meditation communally. The periods are relatively short and last between 30 and 45 minutes. Such relative short periods of sitting meditation are preferred, because for many people lengthy periods of sitting meditation can be stressful. The Dynamic Meditation implies that you carry the state of meditation during the rest of the day, while walking, sitting or lying down. In this way the entire period of the retreat can become a continuous meditation, with various intensities.
The Breath is a double sound. The double sound is synchronised with breathing in and out. The Breath is an ancient psychological instrument that is used in various spiritual traditions. Its purpose is to reach a one-pointed attention. It is natural for the mind to wander as soon at it is left to itself. You cannot ‘stop the mind’. The only thing you can do is to replace the continuous monologue of thoughts by something else.
There are various mantras that have the same effect by forcing the mind to concentrate on the content of the phrase that is repeated. The Breath is different. Concentrating on a meaning of a mantra is still a mind activity. In the Breath the sound has no meaning in a rational sense; its value is trans-rational, and it invites a state of one-pointed attention that is beneficial for a spiritual unfolding and openness that is in accordance with the transcendental nature of life.
The Breath is a major instrument in a Nâm Retreat.
In order for the Breath to have its psychological effect, it should have been received in a particular manner, and it should be guarded in such a way that it is not shared with others. This would disrupt the essential intimacy which is essential for its beneficial effect.
Of course once having received the Breath, its usefulness is not limited to the period of the retreat. For many it becomes a valuable lifelong friend and a support in periods of stress and anxiety.
Those who have not yet had the opportunity to receive the Breath will receive some instructions for Breathing that can be used instead.
Asha meditation is helpful for shifting quickly between the state of attention that is required for ordinary living and the state of meditation. Asha meditation is particularly useful when the time that you have for meditation is limited.
The effect of rhythm on the brain is well-known and widely documented. In Asha meditation this effect of rhythm is used for bringing the mind into a different resonance. In practice it means that the period reserved for meditation is divided in two parts. During the first part a regular rhythm is maintained, usually with a rattle, as a preparation for the state of silence in meditation proper. Asha meditation has proved to be very effective and particularly helpful for people who lead a busy life.
The Jewel is an instrument that is directly linked to the realisation of the transcendental nature of living. Dynamic Meditation, Breath and Asha Meditation are primarily psychological instruments, the Jewel introduces a spiritual aspect in the Nâm Retreat, which is also a psychology, but of a different level.
All life is transcendental in the sense that we are primarily spiritual beings with a material
expression in the human body and the human universe of perception. Ignoring our transcendental nature is the same as ignoring the essence of our lives. Such ignorance has a consequence and the state of the modern world with its stress and anxiety is a symptom of this ignorance. Realising your transcendental nature is a psychological necessity for reaching harmony, inner peace and well-being. As long as you ignore it, you are prone to confusion by following detrimental directions. This is not the place to describe in full detail the transcendental nature of living, suffice it however to indicate that we are primarily sharing in an unknowable all-embracing oneness that lies beyond any rational consideration. We cannot know it because we are of it and our knowing itself is one of its infinite expressions.
That which is unknowable is nevertheless very real and intimate. We are of it and therefore we cannot have a relationship with it. We cannot communicate with it; all we can do is open ourselves for its realisation. For the purpose of opening ourselves for our essential essence and as a skillful means, this unknowable wholeness is indicated by the sound ‘Abbah’. This sound is not defined. There are languages in which the sound ‘Abbah’ refers to a meaning, however this is incidental and not relevant for the way in which it is used here.
There are two psychological states that contribute to the gradual realisation of Abbah. The first is the state that is indicated as Sovereignty. This state is expressed in the guiding attitude of Awe and Wonder. The next state is indicated as Guidance. This is expressed as let-ting go, spiritual poverty and the openness of non-knowing. Beyond these states and outside, as in concentric circles, there is Abbah, which no longer has a circumference.
The Jewel expresses the essential nature of the spiritual unfolding. Though many have the tendency to search inside for their spiritual nature, the transcendental nature of life indicates that rather than towards inside, the movement of attention should be directed outside.
Ultimately this may lead to the realisation of the permanence of the infinite all-embracing of our nature, in respect of which the daily ‘I’-concerns lose much of their relevance.
The repetition of the Jewel creates a mind programme with which you can gradually find this
direction. Rationally this may be difficult to grasp. The Jewel is an instrument that may lead to the discovery that you posses other ways of knowing, ways that are more real, enlightening, and certain, because they are rooted in that which is the permanence of our being.
The recitation of specific texts is an ancient and proven method for unfolding a direction. The
spiritual endeavour is a psychological process which is not rational and which involves the
unlocking of your supra-rational abilities of realisation.
Understanding a theory may be helpful for realisation as a start, but eventually it is only in living that a realisation is actually realised. The effort of understanding stops a flow in order to consider it. During recitation on the other hand, there is no space for considering what you are reading, you have to go with the flow. This has proven to be very beneficial for a supra-rational realisation, in which other instruments than the rational mind are involved.
During a Nâm Silent Retreat the book ‘Oh Abbah: songs for Lovers’ is used for recitation. The book itself was written as a recitation, which means it emerged in a continuous flow over a weekend of retreat. The different chants are like windows directed toward the same unknowable Abbah, which is ever so wide and ever so close-by.
Recitation leads you through a great number of different states that all find their resolution in the continuous repetition of ‘Oh Abbah’. This has a profound and lasting effect. Recitation opens pathways in the brain that can become highly relevant, also in everyday life situations.
The attunements are an instrument that places each of the daily periods of meditation in a particular framework. This instrument has always been used by monastic communities of various spiritual traditions. The attunements of the Nâm Retreat combine the effect of the Asha Meditation with that of the Recitation. The Attunements give a shape to each section of the days of the Nâm Retreat.
The most obvious instrument of the Nâm Retreat is the silence. I order to be effective the silence should be total. This implies that not only you abstain from speaking, but of any kind of communication, even with the eyes , with the other participants. Apart from the book ‘Oh Abbah’, it is strongly advised not to use phones, tablets, computers or read books during the period of the Nâm Retreat because the distraction that they provide will interfere with the beneficial psychological effect of the Nâm Retreat.
During a Nâm Retreat in which Yoginâm is present during the morning meditation and the five o’clock meditation there is a so-called HarpMood. A HarpMood is like a Satsang by Sound. A HarpMood is a spiritual communication in which Yoginâm communicates with the participants on a supra-rational level. This has the effect that many of the blockages that you may experience during the retreat become dissolved. The effect of the HarpMood is very much determined by the specific need that you may have at that moment. HarpMood is a unique and very valuable element. During Nâm Retreats in which Yoginâm is not present the benefit of the HarpMood will be obtained through a recording.
1. I will unceasingly strive to incorporate compassion for all and everything in my uni-verse of perception
2. I will abstain from intentionally inflicting avoidable harm, hurt and damage on any-one or anything in my universe of perception.
3. I will apply practical wisdom, that results from the realisation of the transcendental nature of life, to everyday life situations.
4. I will nurture an attitude of loving-kindness and respect for all human beings, animals, and for the environment as a whole.
5. I will cultivate beauty and joy as the fundamental attitude in everyday life situations.
6. I will respect all religions and cultures equally, fostering mutual understanding in a multicultural global society, based on cooperation and interdependency of interests.
7. I will strive unceasingly to reach an eco-sustainable way of living and of production of energy and goods in respect for the planet in whose essence I share.