To seriously embark on a practice of Yoga Nidra, be sure to gather those skills of stillness and of focus, and of observation. Polish them up the way you would a tarnished, old genie lantern…and dive in to your Nidra practice…all-in…nothing ventured, nothing gained…and when you feel ready to reach, reach far and reach true, because really, there is everything there for you. The power of Yoga Nidra to change your life is far reaching once the decision is made and the mind accepts that decision; because once accepted, the mind will be open to observing anything and everything that fits that new life decision. Gradually and incrementally, these new observations will start gaining familiarity, naturally becoming incorporated into daily life decisions. Before you know it, life is different….OR…maybe, the change will land in one fell swoop (this is less likely…but not to be ruled out).
But this observing style of behaviour begins with, or follows, the ability to be still within. To cultivate not only inner stillness, but dynamic inner stillness (rather than just falling asleep) is the practice of Yoga Nidra. Because it is within that stillness that the statement of intent (the Sankalpa) is set…this is powerful and it’s sacred because it comes from the heart. This can’t be done when the mind is fragmented in distraction. Wrapped within the Nidra practice itself, the whispering of the Sankalpa is heard in our stillness because it is a desired shift that our heart longs for. So if the intent with which we enter into the Nidra isn’t the one our heart longs for, then our heart driven Sankalpa will come forward within the Nidra. This is where the initial practice of Yoga Nidra lies.
The follow through to Nidra practice is to stay alert to our daily waking life…this is as significant as being in the Nidra itself. The Sankalpa is active in our lives through the new decisions we start to make which are in alignment with it, no matter how big or small doesn’t matter….size isn’t relevant. Here is the witnessing of life at work, life in process, and it is being allowed to happen through alignment with the decisions being made. It is the stated intention now infused into our waking life. It is the aspect of the practice we carry throughout the day, being attentive to the opportunities which arrive that are in line with the direction of our Sankalpa. The mind in focus backed up by the power of the heart is an unstoppable mix.
Our lives can be so filled with distraction that we learn to think in a distracted way. And we approach our Sankalpa in the same way, in a mirror image of being tempted to jump from one Sankalpa to the next as a method of consumption, there is the tendency to want to move fast and multiply. But to nurture an individual Sankalpa we need to focus on one at a time…to realize the sacredness of what we’re bringing forward. Stillness develops this cohesion as well as patience, increasing our ability to choose wisely.
We don’t know how long a Sankalpa will take to be realized, nor whether we’ll give credit to the form in which it arrives if it’s not to our exact specifications. But again be open to the possibility of how it shows up as much as you’re open to the possibility of imagining it in the first place. To move toward that shift we desire in life requires sincere efforts and a lot of heart! Giving time each day to the state of Yoga Nidra trains oneness of mind, bringing forward the true essence of your desired shift in reality.
Becoming more open to the increasing possibilities Yoga Nidra brings can feel vulnerable when not used to it. A vulnerability which we’ll naturally want to protect and can therefore sabotage. We tend to want to control and hold on, to steer the outcome ourselves. In doing this…this pushing forward in anticipation of the new…we often miss its actual arrival. We achieve more to strengthen our Sankalpa by practicing the Yamas and Niyamas in our lives, as the quality of our true heart’s desires mirror the quality embedded within the Yamas and Niyamas and the practice of them. They will lead our dream into reality if we’re willing to commit to the process.
Our minds, hearts, and Beings, will give us time to adapt to the changes life commands of making such a sincere commitment to change…time to consider and work it through. Some discomfort is often necessary….that’s usually the best way to recognize that change is happening. So have faith in your Yoga Nidra practice but give it the time it needs, you’re nurturing a fine wine don’t forget. All of us are challenged at times, to let old negative thinking patterns wash away. It’s discipline to ignore those thoughts when they roll in, and instead to refocus on the new, the way you would ignore the rudeness of anyone…like water off a duck’s back…but then, eventually, you won’t be hearing them at all anymore. Your focus turns elsewhere.
As your Nidra practice evolves so does your way of being with yourself, with others, the world…everything. This changes your world because you become changed… making different choices, behaving differently, responding differently…all of these change your world because you’ve evolved your world and your way of being in it. Yoga Nidra is not a practice to be taken lightly, nor is it a practice of sleep. If we continue to sleep our way through Nidra we miss out on amazing opportunities that we can create for ourselves, for a better way of life, a better quality of life…we miss out on the opportunity to witness ourselves creating reality from thought…and this is an immense confirmation of the power we carry as individuals. Once we know this, there is no stopping us! We then witness power as a positive, we learn that power is our creativity, it’s not about having power over another. Power then becomes fuel and sustenance for bringing our beauty into form so it doesn’t lie dormant within our hearts for a lifetime.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
I repeated myself 108 times before falling silent. In that silence I could actually feel the vibration of my words as a palpable structure around me. This was a breathtaking moment for me. I was sitting in class at the time, on the cold, hard floor in the ashram in Northern India. Earlier we had been learning Yogic Philosophy and Mantra, and I had been leaning in to every grace filled word that Mataji was teaching. But now, we had just recited a mantra through the 108 beads of the mala before moving into meditation. I learned right then and right there, the power of speaking, what we choose to say, and how we say it….it becomes real, because it’s sound, it’s frequency, and it settles into something.
Years ago I read the timeless book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, who speaks about “Being Impeccable with your Word” (which stands as the first agreement in the book); today, this is further demonstrated beautifully (in my mind) by Nigel Stanford in his video Cymatics. (Please watch his music video here: nigelstanford.com/Cymatics/
Toward the end of the video we see the musicians put on a protective layer as the vibrations become increasingly intense…isn’t this what we wish we could do when interactions with another become more intense?...we want to, or need to shield ourselves if there is an element of threat perceived in those words…an imaginary cloak but nonetheless, that innate reaching for it within a tangle of words is reflective of their reverberating impact. There is a very real impact of sound vibration because of its creative force. So to be “impeccable” with our word offers us the choice, we don’t really have an excuse to blurt out whatever toxic thing slithers off the tongue, not really…we can always choose integrity, even within moments of anger or trial. We can still do the best we can to make that choice. At this point in time are we willing to stop shooting bullets from our mouths…to roll the reel in a bit and make it a personal challenge before we begin addressing the bigger picture?
It’s time…now…to speak with integrity…to begin the healing there…individually…moving that into a collective. Speaking with integrity comes from the heart and most people aren’t willing to speak from the heart… it’s vulnerable there. In truth though, the backbone to this vulnerability is the power of our Being. If we’re going to repeat ourselves over and over and over again (as is the human tendency) then let’s challenge ourselves to say those words from as much love, integrity, grace and movement toward peace, as we can muster in the moment. Are you up for that challenge? Are you up for the challenge of doing your best in every given moment, because some moments are uglier than others, some moments our best isn’t as pretty as other moments, and it can be exhausting…but doesn’t matter…are you willing?--with love, Letters In Yoga