Yoga Nidra: Conscious Sleep is my first CD, recorded at home in 2006. The entire CD was made at home, initially even making copies with very simple CD covers printed and hand cut (the black one with white lettering). It has made its way into our local community through schools, the library, and all the classes taught over the years.
I have run out of the hard copies of the CDs and many who still continue to use these Yoga Nidras daily have worn out their CDs. So I am uploading the four tracks on YouTube to make them freely available to everyone.
Yoga Nidra is the most effortless way I know to effortless awareness also known as mindfulness or sakshi bhava. Over time, with repeated practice, Yoga Nidra leads to states of insight and wisdom and I find many parallels to vipassana. As it is done lying down, at least to begin with, it is much more accessible to all age groups. Guided meditations require less effort than the ones that require independent effort. The ease leads to greater states of deep relaxation for many who struggle with other types of practices. In over 40 years of practicing and teaching, Yoga Nidra is by far the most popular of any practice I have taught.
These tracks are now very portable. The two short ones are easy to use after a gym workout, at lunch time, anytime when a quick timeout or stress relief is needed. Short practices are recommended for young teenagers, not long ones, and these have been time-tested. As attention and the ability to be still deepen, or when more time is available, the longer practice is suggested. Some people can be still for 30-45 minutes without any meditation experience. Like physical exercise, regular practice has the most long lasting effects and benefits.
This track provides a very brief introduction to Yoga Nidra, the practices on this CD, suggestions on how to use them, as well finding a position that works best for the listener. The last and longest track incorporates intention, also known as sankalpa. It is an intentional positive seed planted within the subconscious. Cultivated over time, this seed can grow and be transformative.
This short Yoga Nidra is suitable for teenagers and adults of all ages. In just over 12 minutes, the guided practice can help relieve stress and anxiety. It can also be used as a “power nap” without necessarily napping–when very tired and unable to sleep. If sleep should come during the session, it is perfectly fine.
Taking time out for just 12 minutes, to slow down with this Yoga Nidra, can be enormously beneficial in breaking the cycle of repetitive thinking. It is another tool to relieve stress and anxiety, to develop focused attention and concentration. Curiosity of the breath in this track helps develop focus and concentration. In addition to the familiar belly breath, the throat to navel passage is explored with the breath. The timing has been tested over many years to make it suitable for teenagers, young adults, and all ages of people who find it difficult to be still for extended periods of time, or focus. This can be a good start.
Effortless attention is cultivated by being guided into a scientific or clinical observation of body sensations, noting them briefly. There is no lingering or dwelling, no analysis or judgment. Simply observe and note–itching, twitching, heat, cold, etc. There is no additional layering on beyond what is immediately felt in that moment. This takes the mind away from circular and conditioned thinking patterns. The break is deeply relaxing.
This track builds upon the other two in this CD. The body is observed in more detail, briefly knowing each part. The body is simply a body. There is no taking possession, or laying claim to the body as my body. The breath is simply the breath–not belonging to anyone. The opposite sensations and their experiences are simply that–not attached to any person. The awareness initially just notes the experience–this is how heaviness feels, this is how lightness feels, etc. What narratives has the mind created around these sensations–the associated chain of thoughts?
Over time, the awareness becomes deeper and more concentrated. It can then start observing the trigger of the sensation–it observes any mental and physical aversion or attraction and clinging (wanting the experience to not end). This is pleasant, this is unpleasant, this is neutral. It is a critically important step in knowing ourselves. What happens when there are these spontaneous reactions? Without engaging, continuing to clinically observe, what happens to the sensation or experience when we do nothing beyond observing it? There is no analysis, no judgment, no active thinking–just seeing, feeling, noting what is happening. Is the reaction, the aversion or attraction (the pulling in and the pushing away) to the sensation in the mind and body? Or is it to the object of trigger? Knowing in this way is transformative as it helps us see clearly and then we know what steps to take.
All these are important points to deepen our understanding and perceptions in every practice.
(Tip: The naming and the knowing happen simultaneously–with repeated practice, is that your observation?)