On 29 May, a group of 16 dedicated people began the first of their 8 Nyung Nä retreats led by Venerable Ailsa, with the plan that others would join later for the final 3 retreats. Things didn’t quite go to plan, with a number of people developing COVID during the first few retreats. Because of this, on Day 7 the group dispersed from the gompa; some returning home and others staying to complete their retreats in the seclusion of our retreat huts.

Out of crisis comes opportunity, and those who remained had the unique experience of doing solo Nyung Nä retreats while being supported by each other and Ven. Ailsa by phone and email, and by the Chenrezig team who delivered groceries, meals and clean laundry.  Lama Zopa Rinpoche provided great inspirational in his letter to Ven Ailsa, explaining that experiencing sickness (like COVID) during the Nyung Nä retreat was the cause for many eons of negativities to be purified.

We shared the disappointment of those who were unable to start, or to continue their retreat, and rejoiced with those who completed retreats despite these obstacles.  Heartfelt thanks to all the participants, Ven Ailsa and the Chenrezig staff and volunteers who were involved in making this possible!  Some participants have shared their personal experiences of the Nyung Nä retreat, whichcan be viewed at the link below.
Some of the participants have kindly shared their experiences of the retreat:

I found the Nyung Na retreat that I recently completed a wonderful way to become more immersed in Thousand Armed Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. The practice took us step by step in how to do this and I left feeling more grounded, stronger and clear headed within myself. What a blessing.
Denise Gilchrist

I would like to thank everybody for their loving kindness and support especially towards those of us who contracted Covid and required isolation and special food deliveries to our rooms. This allowed us to continue our Nyung Na practice to completion in comfort, safety and with all physical and spiritual needs met.
Thank you sincerely to all the Chenrezig Institute’s entourage for facilitating this amazing event.
In metta,
Sandy Downing

There really are no words to express the profound impact the eight Nyung Näs have had on my mind, resulting in a calmness and deeper understanding of how we are embedded in our samsaric existence along with all others. Not just one or two or three, but eight Nyung Näs. The repetition of the sessions allowed for the body and mind to travel more and more deeply into the process of the meditations and to utilise the opportunities to project one’s compassion extensively through the medium of Avaloketsvara, Chenrezig. 
I didn’t have any idea of what to expect, being my first Nyung Nä retreat  The group were blessed with a wonderful Nyung Nä altar setup with everything in place and being led by Venerable Ailsa Cameron. The Big Love Café provided the most wonderful meals and accommodated my keto diet with love, care and attention. 
Eating every second day was a breeze and in particular, the non feeding and non talking days felt especially efficient and effective for practice, on both body and mind. Most of my issues were physical discomforts and pains from an unfit body however these were able to be used to generate compassion for the benefit of others. I enjoyed the discipline of the routine which kept me on task. 
I was especially blessed with very comfortable accommodation which also was most conducive to my Nyung Nä practice especially when we were required to isolate due to Covid-19 issues. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful Chenrezig Institute surroundings and which felt like a wonderful community atmosphere with all the beautiful staff engaged in so many areas of work. A treat was having the arhat statues placed during the week and the beautiful weather which showed them off beautifully.
Chenrezig Institute was so accommodating and took so much love and care for all the participants especially in the light of Covid-19 disruptions. Love and thanks to all. 
Sandy Faber

Day 2: Ive been studying how to line myself up for comfortable prostrations. It seems that I need to keep my head low as I go down and come back up again, and I need to completely relax the body when I am extended on the floor.
Day 3: I can see each fidget, such as scratching, re-arranging the cushion, gazing out the Gompa windows etc as mini-quests for happiness.
Day 4: There is a tangible flow becoming evident, the flow of preparation for the sections of the day, the flow of the prostrations, the flow of the recitations and the flow of the commentaries from the mind.
Day 6: The retreat was cancelled because of too many people testing positive for Covid. The mind says “I’ll go home, I’ll be able to eat when I want! No! I’ll stay! But I’ll cheat, and drink water on fasting days, and go to sleep instead or recitations. I’ll be lonely in the hut by myself”. The answer came from the mind “well just do it … live it, try it, an amazing opportunity!” And so it was!
Day 7: I was delighted that I managed to get up at 4.30am, set up my altar and prostration space and complete a session alone.
Day 8: I spent some time appreciating the tiny creatures that keep us all alive, slaters, tiny spiders, worms, bees.
Day 11: The body is tired, the mind is tired and planning a drink of water with a fizzy electrolyte tablet in it and remembering the cheese on yesterday’s pasta. I ask myself where is the fatigue, what is it exactly? I also remember to consider the beings who are suffering because they have no escape from fatigue
Day 12: I have the list of the afflictions beside the prostration space. I’m surprised that for some time I find it difficult to really understand anger, until I spot a memory which triggers a deep reflection and understanding and regret.
Final day: Wondering today about how to maintain the insights from the retreat. Also concern about how in 16 days I barely scratched the surface, there is so much work to do.
Jane Shamrock