AHYMSIN newsletter, Issue - November 2011  

Silence in Holland

by Stoma

About thirty people gathered at the familiar Beukenhof Retreat Center in Biezenmortel, Netherlands, for a five day silent retreat in October with the theme of “The Song of Silence” sponsored by HYMNS, Himalayan Yoga Meditation Network Society, and led by Swami Ritavan Bharati, Stoma, and Ashutosh Sharma.

We were treated to beautiful clear, sunny weather for the first three days which made the brisk walks to nearby dunes and contemplative walking with Ashu on the grounds of the former monastery a great delight.

Ashutosh focused on worshipful asana practice to facilitate silence. Meditation focused on akhand-mandala mantra japa and the Kashmiri Shaiva observation of twelve pauseless breaths to enter meditation. Swami Ritavan led practica that ranged from heart center meditation and the Om Kriya to silent japa. Stoma's evening talks centered around Atma-tattva-avalokanam and related it to the Christian practice of beholding in contemplation. He also described the ancient Syrian desert mothers' and fathers' practice of the path of tears as a model of emotional purification and the deepening of japa towards spiritual awakening.

On the last day, as the autumn clouds and rain rolled back in, we took the warm presence of sunny silence into our hearts to return to refresh our minds and share with everyone we meet. 






Editor's Note:

On 17 October, during this retreat, Stoma wrote, “All our practices and sadhana are simply a process of becoming willing. Willing to open, willing to be truly naked before grace, willing to let go of anything that gives us the false promise of security, whether that is relationships as objects or pleasure or religion or money or what money can buy. They are all traps. And they are all ultimately our death. In sadhana, in tapas, we become joyfully willing to die, one trap at a time. Only then is there space for grace to do its work remaking us in love and in joy.”

HYMNS described the aim of this silence retreat:  
“This Intensive Silence Retreat will allow participants to find a deep silence and obtain deeper insights of one-self and the healing power of silence (in action, speech and thought). In addition, participants will be inspired by the presentations and workshops on specific methods for relaxation (hatha yoga, yoga nidra) and philosophies and practices of meditation for better understanding of the process of silence.  Immerging oneself in Silence provides a window through which one witnesses with deepening awareness the nature of one’s own mind.  Over several days, the subtlety of that awareness becomes deeper and deeper.”