Sometimes I wish I could hit the snooze button on the real world and its decidedly not fake news.
I also know that being awake and aware is more important than ever.
That’s why I am grateful for yoga nidra.
What is yoga nidra?
“Yoga nidra is an extreme relaxation of conscious, deep sleep,” says Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, or as I think of him, Swami J.
[Note: The remainder of the quotes in this article are from Swami J’s intro track on a phenomenal CD (or MP3 album) called Yoga Nidra Meditation: Extreme Relaxation of Conscious Deep Sleep.]
I’ve been passing out to Swami J’s calming instruction for many years, and while I haven’t come close to mastering the practice of yoga nidra, my appreciation for it is ever increasing.
“Yoga nidra means ‘yogic sleep’”
Yoga nidra is an elusive state. It is neither awake nor asleep, neither conscious nor dreaming.
Most of the time, I don’t attain it.
Most of the time, I pass out within the first ten or twenty minutes of the hour-long recording.
And that’s okay.
Process, not outcome, matters most
“In the beginning you may or may not reach the state of yoga nidra itself,” says Swami J. “It does not matter.
“The deeper experience of yoga nidra may come soon or it may come later, but it will come with practice. In any case you will definitely find yoga nidra to be a very relaxing part of your life.”
Relaxation is required
If you are making even a minor effort to resist complacency in our current political climate, it is likely that your heart hurts.
It is hard to be helpful when our hearts our hurting, and yet we need to be helpful. Taking action, speaking up, resisting injustice: all these things are vitally important.
The well being and safety of so many of our brothers and sisters are at risk. Of course it has always been this way in America, but the stakes certainly seem to be rising.
The sickness of our nation is not something that can be unseen, nor is it something we can afford to ignore.
And yet, action requires rest
I’ve talked before about how fighting must also include retreat.
So how can we retreat while still resisting?
The key word is “still.”
To avoid giving in to every impulse of fear, to resist reacting with panic every time we get a news update, we can learn to stay awake, even while we sleep.
“Going to deep sleep, yet remaining awake, can seem impossible. Yet this is exactly what happens in yoga nidra,” says Swami J.
Bring the silence & stillness with you
Yoga is not just meant for the mat. The benefits of mindfulness and meditation transcend our individual bodies and experiences and deeply impact the world around us.
It might not always seem like focusing on your own inner peace makes the world a better place, but I assure you this is true.
Go deep for rest and retreat, and when you return to the world, you can bring the silence and stillness with you.
Blessings and bliss
I am grateful for yoga nidra because I need the restoration it provides. I appreciate the potential for progress and healing that it offers.
And I can always use the reminder that, sometimes, lying still can be a helpful action.
I hope you find the same to be true for you.
As Swami J says: “May your meditation and yoga nidra practices bring you peace, happiness, and bliss.”
Love > fear,