iRest Yoga Nidra is a modern adaptation of classical yoga nidra, as brought to the U.S. by Swami Satchitananda (see Integral Yoga and Yogaville), developed by Richard C. Miller, PhD, a clinical psychologist, author, researcher, yogic scholar and spiritual teacher. Richard’s teachings integrate the wisdom of Eastern and Western spirituality, psychology and philosophy. For more information please visit iRest.us.
iRest is a path and practice for deep relaxation, health and healing (physical, mental and emotional) and spiritual Awakening. The beauty of it is that there is nothing to believe. In this inquiry into what is True, we rely on our first hand experience and curiosity to test the teachings personally.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a core practice in iRest which can be seen throughout sensing the body, breath, emotions, cognitions and joy (steps 4-8). We come to realize that everything in our consciousness is experienced as sensation. Everything has, what I like to call, an “energetic signature.” Like a ball of multi-coloured yarn, thoughts, beliefs, images, memories, emotions, all arrive together as a package. This may seem strange at first, as attention is first drawn to the most intense one, but if we take time to pay attention, the others may present themselves. Like following a string, we can pay attention to what is most insistent and then ask if anything else is present. Wisdom and insight are the rewards for this curiosity. iRest also differs from mindfulness in some ways. You can read about that in an upcoming post [here].
Step 0: The Initial Relaxation – during our preparation we begin by settling the body either on the floor with supports to keep us comfortable or sitting or standing. We can practice with the body in any position to learn that yoga nidra is available no matter what position life puts us in. We can also practice open eyed. We then make one more adjustment to be 5-10% more comfortable. This is a little extra effort we gift ourselves with.
Then, we open our senses to the environment allowing ourselves to passively receive sights, sounds, smells, touch, and tastes as a global sensation. People report this as profoundly relaxing. The tendency of the mind is to search for the sights, sounds, smells, and contact with the environment, but this can be laid aside as the body-mind becomes receptive.
Step 1: The Intention for This Practice – What is your purpose for this meditation? How does this support my heartfelt desire? Is it to remain awake, aware, and accepting of all that arises, to receive deep relaxation, to have a good nap, or to sharpen your concentration?
Step 2: Your Heartfelt Desire – sometimes described as a mission, one’s dharma, path, or calling.
This is something that is not chosen by you, but it given to you from your heart, from Life itself. Living from your calling or purpose is to be in harmony with Life and how it wants to express itself through you as a unique person.
“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.” Hugo Cabret, Movie
Step 3: Your Inner Resource – is a place real or imagined where you feel safe, secure, wanted, loved, connected and at ease. In this place there is no need for masks, to be careful, there is only your beingness. This is a place of refuge in difficult times. You might think of this as your happy place. Developing the Inner Resource is about bringing all of the sights, sounds, smells, people, totems, and anything else to deepen your felt body-sense of safety and wellbeing.
These first 3 comprise the “sankalpa,” or vow, which bring with them a determination to fulfill. This passion gives meaning, value and purpose to your life and directs your choices. Living from the passion of the heart felt desire there is joy and pleasure and freedom from suffering and fear.
Step 4: Body Sensing – broadly, is being mindful of what sensations are present in the body. We scan the body, letting go of visualizing, and discover the body as a humming, vibrating field of energy without border or boundary. Nurturing this sensitivity hones our inner guidance system and guides you in choosing the right response to any situation. [link]. We may also wish to step back into the Witness / Observer as well as practice feeling into both. This helps give us some distance from the intensity of experience and strengthens our knowledge that we are not the cognitions or emotions that are passing through.
Step 5: Breath Sensing – like body sensing we focus the attention on the movement of the breath. Like body sensing there are a multitude of practices which teach us about our pure direct experience. Breath sensing is another opportunity to strengthening our Witnessing presence and sense of not being the changing landscape of cognitions and emotions.
Next Week: Part 2: Steps 6-10 of iRest Yoga Nidra
Philip Beck is a Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Teacher, a graduate of the Spiritual Psychotherapy program at Transformational Arts College, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga Teacher. He lives in Toronto and works with people who want to reconnect with themselves and their passion. Free discovery sessions are available in person, by Skype or FaceTime. You can email Philip here or book Philip here for your complementary first session.
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