Spiritual programme

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Nyung-Nay Retreat – January – Chenrezig Fasting Practice – With Ven. Michael Yeshe
From Thursday, 9. January 2020
To Saturday, 18. January 2020
Location : Small Gompa

What is nyung-nay?

Thousand-armed Chenrezig
Thousand-Armed Chenrezig

Nyung-nay (or "fasting retreat" in English) is a Vajrayana practice from the kriya ("action") class of tantra. It is a powerful practice to develop compassion and bodhichitta – the mind that strives for enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. It is also a quick and effective method to purify negativities and collect merit. Meditators of the past have been known to purify such diseases as leprosy through this practice.

We will be running four nyung-nays in January. One nyung-nay requires being resident here for three nights, in order to incorporate two full practice days.

Check-in is on day 1, days 2 & 3 are the practice days and, if you are not continuing for another nyung-nay, check-out is on day 4. Participants may join for one, two, or any number of nyung-nays up to the complete set of four nyung-nays.

If you haven't done this practice before, it is essential to attend Ven. Michael's introductory talk on 9 January where full instruction will be given, or to subsequently listen to its audio recording which we will make available.

In each session we practice the sadhana ("method of accomplishment") of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig, the Buddha symbolising compassion. The sadhana involves meditating on bodhichitta (the aspiration to attain enlightenment in order to help all beings), visualizing Chenrezig, reciting prayers and mantras, and performing prostrations. Each session lasts approximately 3 hours.

Each nyung-nay consists of seven practice sessions spread over this time, the first starting at 3:30am on day 2 (which is why you have to stay here the night before) and ending after breakfast on day 4.

These sets of nyung-nays will be led by Ven. Michael Yeshe, a Westerner who became a monk and began his Dharma education as a child at Kopan Monastery in the 1970s. He is a very experienced Dharma student who is currently following the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche to do nyung-nas and has kindly offered to lead these four nyung-nays at Root Institute so that others may join in.

Benefits of the practice

The spiritual impact of engaging in nyung-nay practice is extraordinary, as explained in these references:


  • The ideal basis for nyung-nay practice is to have formally taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and to have taken the Great Thousand-Armed Chenrezig Initiation with bodhisattva vows, but the only requirement is to have refuge from the heart and a genuine interest in Buddhism.

  • You must have read all information on this page about the retreat, and agree to follow the discipline of the retreat, including fasting, strict silence, attending all sessions, and wearing appropriate clothing (no shorts or sleeveless shirts).

  • If you have never done nyung-nays before, Ven. Michael's introductory talk will be essential. Those not attending the start on 9 January are required to listen to an audio recording of his instructions.

Dates of the four individual nyung-nay sets

  1. Check-in Thu 9 – Nyung-nay practice Fri 10 & Sat 11 – Check-out Sun 12 Jan 2020

  2. Check-in Sat 11 – Nyung-nay practice Sun 12 & Mon 13 – Check-out Tue 14

  3. Check-in Mon 13 – Nyung-nay practice Tue 14 & Wed 15 – Check-out Thu 16

  4. Check-in Wed 15 – Nyung-nay practice Thu 16 & Fri 17 – Check-out Sat 18

Schedule for the nyung-nay sets

Check-in day
(at start, with setup – Thu 9 Jan – recommended for those who have not done nyung-nay before)
10:00 am Check-in
1:00 pm Gompa setup
5:00 pm Introduction to nyung-nay practice, talk by Ven. Michael Yeshe
(to be recorded for the benefit of those newcomers who start later) 
First day of nyung-nay
4:00 am 1st session – take 8 Mahayana Precepts to eat only lunch; drinks & talking permitted
8:30 am 2nd session
11:30 am Lunch
3:30 pm 3rd session
Second day of nyung-nay
4:00 am 4th session – take 8 Mahayana Precepts & vow not to eat, drink or talk for 24 hrs
8:30 am 5th session
3:30 pm 6th session
Check-out day
4:00 am 7th session – your final session
7:30 am Breakfast
9:30 am Check-out from reception

Structure of the retreat

On the first day of the nyung-nay, we take the 8 Mahayana Precepts: avoidance of killing, stealing, sexual activity, telling lies, taking intoxicants, eating more than one meal, singing / dancing / playing music, wearing jewelry, and using high seats or beds. Three sessions of the sadhana are practised on the first day.

On the second day of the nyung-nay, we take the 8 Mahayana Precepts as above, with the additional vows of not eating, drinking or speaking for 24 hours. Three sessions of the sadhana are practised on this day. Although we vow to keep silence, we continue to recite the prayers and mantras of the sadhana. If communication between participants is necessary, it must be done through writing notes.

Retreat leader

Venerable Michael Yeshe, a Western monk who was raised from childhood at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, is a disciple of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He will be doing a longer retreat here at Root Institute, but has kindly agreed to lead several sets of nyung-nays for group participation.

Challenge / opportunity

The second day is the most difficult part of the retreat. We experience hunger, thirst, tiredness and pain from doing prostrations. Some people feel ill from the fasting. However, if we understand the purpose of the practice, we will not mind the discomfort.

By experiencing hardships in our Dharma practice, we are able to purify a great deal of our negative karma accumulated over countless previous lives. We can also build up positive habits and states of mind to counteract the negative ones.

The Buddha advised the "middle way" – not too soft, not too tough. During nyung-nays we do experience discomfort, but it is bearable and not too tough. By experiencing this discomfort, we have a better understanding of the suffering experienced by animals, hungry ghosts, and some humans, and thus develop greater compassion for sentient beings, and greater renunciation of samsara.

What to bring

  • Mala to be used only for Chenrezig mantra – best is crystal (preferably in a small bag)

  • Vajra and bell (only for those who have received initiation)

  • Mandala set (if you would like to offer during the sadhana)

  • Dharma book to read during break times

  • Many clean clothes, as kriya tantra emphasizes cleanliness; clothing should be comfortable and loose-fitting, and appropriate for a semi-monastic environment (no shorts or sleeveless shirts)

  • Your own cup (big or medium) and thermos, if possible

  • If desired, additional nutritious food (such as nuts, dried fruit, energy bars) to supplement the one meal on the first day of the nyung-nay; and any special drinks such as dehydration salts

  • Pain relievers might be helpful in case of developing sore muscles from prostrating.


Finalised schedule available on arrival.


Guidelines of behaviour in a Dharma environment

Root Institute is a delightful, semi-monastic meditation centre.

To maintain a conducive, spiritually harmonious atmosphere for inner reflection and meditation, we kindly ask all our students, guests and visitors to observe the following guidelines:

  • Respect all life: do not intentionally kill any living being, even small insects.

  • Respect others' property: do not steal or take anything not freely given.

  • Be honest and straightforward: do not lie or intentionally deceive others.

  • Be celibate: no sexual activity; this also includes no romantic holding hands, hugging, massages and other physical displays of affection.

  • Be alert and mindful*: avoid intoxicants such as alcohol, drugs and cigarettes; we encourage you to stop smoking while here, but if this is impossible, you can smoke outside the gates.

  • Be considerate of others' silence: keep silence in the appropriate areas and at all times during residential courses, especially in the meditation hall (gompa) and dormitories; no singing or playing music and, in general, maintain a quiet demeanour while on the property.

  • Be considerate of the monks and nuns: dress respectfully; please no shorts above the knee, tank-top shirts, or tight and revealing clothing.

  • Couples: can stay in the same room for two weeks or less under the celibacy policy.

Please be aware:

  • * The Bihar state government has passed laws totally prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state, with very severe penalties! Please ensure that you do not carry any alcohol with you in Bihar.

  • Also, please note that those in service or teaching in FPMT centers and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden and, due to our commitment to following His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice and supporting his work, we do not share our materials and facilities with those who knowingly continue to practice Shugden against his advice.