~Yoga Nidra ~ a state of consciousness somewhere between waking and sleeping. It is kinda like the “going-to-sleep” stage, that place where you can hear someone knocking on the door, but your body is so relaxed you wouldnt get up to answer it even if it was Val Kilmer in a speedo. It is when the body is completely relaxed, perhaps the most relaxed the body can be while the mind remains completely aware.
I recently completed a Yoga Nidra course developed by renowned psychologist and yoga nidra expert, Richard Miller. It is a science-based method of Yoga Nidra which he calls Integrated Restoration, iRest. It is a guided meditation that moves through the layers of the body (in yoga known as Koshas) from the physical, breath, energetic, feelings, to the cosmic. We end up deepening our relaxation one part of the body at a time.
The technique has been so effective at reducing post traumatic stress that the US Veteran hospitals have adopted the method for retired and active soldiers alike. Psychiatrists use it in clinical settingsto eliminate stress, help people overcome insomnia, solve personal and interpersonal problems, resolve trauma, neutralize and overcome anxiety, fear, anger, and depression. Spiritual seeking yogis use it to enter deep meditation in order to unravel the mystery of life and answer such questions as ‘Who am I? Why am I? What is all of this? and What is enlightenment?’ ”
It works like this. We begin by determining our heartfelt desire (what I call a dream), we turn that desire into an intention (what I call an affirmation), and then we totally relax the body. Starting at your head and moving down to your toes, from the physical body to the breath, from our breath we move into our feelings, our feelings to our emotions, beliefs, memories and into the cosmic consciousness. We explore our body (every little itty bitty part). As we slow down, we relax and release. The self-limiting beliefs and thoughts (I am not good enough, I don’t have the money, I am not smart enough) fade away and we break out of the restrictive patterns that have kept us from doing things we always dreamed.
The training was full of psychotherapist and doctors, yet there I was a professional yogi. I enjoyed learning and understanding the technique from their scientific and mental therapy perspective, but I saw things a little bit differently. I saw this process as a means of manifesting. I see it as magic, that can be explained by science.
From my experience, yoga nidra is a brilliant tool for diving into the deeper inner workings of myself. Dr. Miller calls it “self-inquiry.” Once deep inside ourselves, we can plant the seeds of our dreams. If we nurture ourselves with a daily practice self-care and relaxation, the seeds will manifests into beautiful blossoms, your dream manifested! By making this connection between mind and body (the definition of yoga), you develop a pathway connecting your heart, mind and body. This allows your dreams to flourish.
The first part of yoga nidra, and often the most challenging, is figuring out your own dream, your heartfelt desire. Work through these first few steps and then listen to a guided yoga nidra meditation practice (or the one included below) to explore this technique of relaxation and tool of manifestation.
Figure it out. Discover your heartfelt desire –
What brought you here today? What do you want? What are you longing for? Like an archeological dig, sort through your thoughts and emotions to a specific thing that you are certain is driving your soul. It might have been buried for a long time or it might be sitting exposed and obvious on top.
Our heartfelt desire and our soul’s goal is not something we create. It is something we realize. It has been here all along. When you find it, you might feel an instant body, heart, and mind alignment. Or you might not, and then you just have to practice yoga nidra a few times and try a few “heartfelt desires” until something feels absolutely right to you.
Let us start digging. Follow your longing. Ask yourself: From your deathbed, what you are most proud you have done? What would you love to have done? be? lived through? Write it down. Write a few down. Then just try using them in the practice. Immediately or eventually, something will feel so right, like it was always meant to be there like it was always meant to happen. When I began this practice I always started with the heartfelt desire to just be happy (feel free to use this in the beginning if you are unsure about your own heartfelt desire).
Make an Intention. –
Make an intention that supports your heartfelt desire. Make it present, as a state of being, a statement of fact. “I am…” It is not something that will happen to you, but state it as something that you already are! For example, my intention for my heartfelt desire to be happy is “I am happy” | “I am happy and healthy” | ” I am content and happy”
Repeat it as much as you would like. It is your personal affirmation. Write it on your mirror. Repeat it when going to bed and when waking up. It is your mantra. Your present tense prayer. Can you already feel it? You are that! Now, lets take it a step further.
Remove Blockages. –
Tensions, mental fears, anxieties, and depression all stand in your way of following your life’s longing. Whatever stands in the way of taking your first step. Money? Fear? Lack of Time? Remove it. Remove it by relaxing and letting it go. If you realize what these blockages are, that is great! If not, don’t worry. You do not have to label and analyze these things for this process to work. Just relax, let go, and let the blockages float away.
By practicing meditation, relaxation, yoga, tai chi, body scanning, or any other healing, nurturing practice while keeping your heartfelt desire and intention in mind, you release tension becoming more relaxed. As this happens, the seed of your dreams sinks deep into your core being. As your “seed” continues to grow, to blossom, your dream manifest.
Make it happen.
Suddenly, ideas and paths to your dream will appear. Take them. There will be doubts that come into your mind. Keep your faith and continue on the path that has appeared. There are always doubts about where you are going and what you are doing, especially when new paths. Remind yourself of your intention, your affirmation, and your heartfelt desire. Remember your dream. Continue to practice, as practice is the goal. Practice is the end goal, not the path. So continue on. Believe it. Feel it. Become it. Manifest it.