The Bicentenary Meditation Project – An Interview with Nahal Haghbin

Nahal Haghbin is the creative force behind a meaningful initiative inspired by the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Called The Bicentenary Meditation Project, Nahal’s collaborative endeavour is a tremendous undertaking and a generous gift to the world. Not that long ago, Nahal wrote about the practice of meditation and the teachings of the Baha’i Faith on Baha’i Blog (you can read her fantastic article here) and she graciously agreed to tell us about her project. Here’s what she shared:

Baha’i Blog: Could you tell us a little bit about this initiative?

The Bicentenary Meditation Project is a free audio meditation and meditation-script large resource which will exceed 365 meditations in number (209 meditations have been published so far). The purpose of which was four-fold:

  1. The first was to joyously join the worldwide celebrations of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah by creating audio meditations on Their Sacred Writings.
  2. The second was to share the Message, teachings, stories, sufferings and create more awareness of the Sacred Personages of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
  3. The third to create a large, permanent, accessible, free-of-charge and technically diverse meditation resource bank on the Baha’i Sacred Writings.
  4. The fourth to help people begin a meditation practice.

The Bicentenary Meditation Project is hosted by Yoga Avec Moi, an integrative yoga therapy service-based business with the intention of performing its Karma yoga, which is actions-rooted in free-service and devotion to others, free of fear, attachment and desired outcome, together with the help of the world-wide community. Yoga Avec Moi contacted, collaborated with, and worked remotely with hundreds of volunteers throughout the world, during the global coronavirus pandemic to bring this project into its final stages of fruition – a task which was truly herculean in efforts made by all those involved from different cultures, spoken languages and faith-based backgrounds. Contributors from around the world offered their services, all free-of-charge in areas of calligraphy, visual art, photography, translation, voice-recording, sound engineering, coordinating and consulting-roles.

The Bicentenary Meditation Project audio meditations and corresponding meditation-scripts have been translated and made available into 21 different languages. Listing them in alphabetical order we have: Arabic, Bahasa, Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Mongolian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Uzbek. There are also meditations specifically for children aged 4-7 and 8-15.

As of the end of the bicentenary anniversary of the Bith of the Bab (October 18th, 2020), we have surpassed our goal of achieving 365 meditations. We are still receiving translations and meditation recordings, even far past the deadline. There are currently hundreds of meditations that are published, whilst others are being edited by our two wonderful sound engineers, Jarome Matthew and Fei Hou, and will be made available as soon as they are complete.

Several of the meditations scripts have been translated into languages but we do not yet have the audio recordings available. If anyone would be interested in participating in the Bicentenary Meditation Project through translation, editing and/or voice recording, feel free to view the full meditation scripts available here, and let us know which ones you will be willing to assist with.

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to create it?

Nahal Haghbin

The idea came to me while meditating.

This was perhaps the first insight I have ever received during meditation, where it truly was a test to my soul. It required the battling of the self, for six days to be exact, to even be fully be on board with this new idea and an actual dedication to see to its completion. It was not until I came to the realization that my mind was not capable of conjuring up a project like this on my own accord, that perhaps this was an invitation from a higher source, and if I were to pursue it, surely I would receive divine assistance along the way – which I absolutely did.

Baha’i Blog: How has it been received so far?

Most of the voice recorders have thanked me themselves for inviting them to contribute to the project, despite their own selfless services. They were grateful to have been shown how to meditate and have an opportunity to experience the calming, serene, deep, illuminating insights they received during the practice, and sometimes for the first-time experiencing meditating on sacred scriptures or even reading the Baha’i Sacred Writings.

The hundreds of voice-recorders of the meditations have had the fortune of direct-experience with the meditation creation process and they are a very enthusiastic, willing, radiant and loving bunch – as the latter three qualities were a prerequisite spiritual quality of contributing to the project. According to a yogic principle, the quality or energy that a person imbibes into the recording could positively or negatively influence the energetics of the voice, and thereby influencing the spirit of the meditator.

We haven’t received a lot of feedback from listeners of the meditations who have not directly contributed to the project in one way or another, and hope that through this blog post more people can assist in disseminating, sharing and posting about the Bicentenary Meditation Project, and above all, experience and listen to the meditations daily themselves!

Baha’i Blog: What’s a challenge you faced while working on it?

The challenge in the first year was trying to get people on board to contribute to a project without having a baseline reference. Hundreds of enthusiastically worded e-mails went out with absolutely zero reply, which personally was a great struggle for me to keep going and not lose hope.

Once I sat down to create meditations and publish them myself for others to see, then people were able to witness the vision and get on board with it. It also wasn’t until I broadened my invites to include absolutely anyone, including those who were complete novices to the concept of meditation, yet were willing to contribute, and then showing them how to create the meditations from a sample script, were more people able to get on board and the project received some traction – only a year and a half after the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah and six months away from the end of the year celebrating the bicentenary Birth of the Bab.

There are only a couple people in the Bicentenary Meditation Project who actually have formal training in meditation, the majority of contributors are those who were willing to learn and serve through the purity of their heart – this is truly remarkable and was an unexpected result to how I thought this project would come into fruition. Now it seems kind of obvious after the matter of the fact, that the purity of the heart of a soul is what truly brings anything to life, a quality that the Bab, Himself, epitomized.

Baha’i Blog: Where can we find out more?

You can find out more about the Bicentenary Meditation Project on the website www.yogaavecmoi.com/bmp. Listen to the Bicentenary Meditation Project I & II on Spotify and Apple iTunes. You’ll also find it on YouTube & Himalaya by typing in “Bicentenary Meditation Project”. Read more about each meditation on our Bicentenary Meditation Project (BMP) Blog www.yogaavecmoi.com/bmpblog and join in on the conversation by sharing any experiences felt during the meditation in comment sections of the blog. Join Yoga Avec Moi’s weekly newsletter (www.yogaavecmoi.com/subscribe) to receive updates about the Bicentenary Meditation Project and any new releases.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Nahal, for sharing your experience with us! For more information, please visit https://www.yogaavecmoi.com/bmp

About the Author

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

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