Last month I completed my Yoga Nidra training with Jeremy Wolf. Yoga Nidra, or yoga sleep/conscious sleeping, takes practitioners into deeper levels of relaxation where we can release the seeds of tension that keep us hooked in our neurotic thought patterns, habits and behaviors. In these deeper states of relaxation, we can also shed the layers of identification that keep us separate from each other and the from source of our creation: awareness, consciousness, God, Divine Grace, Source or whatever you want to call it. So much of the practice is about observing our current experience without investing in it, without projecting our judgement, preferences, opinions, stories or drama onto it. Essentially, without creating a problem out of what is coming up.
During the training, we did three Nidra sessions a day and since then, I’ve been doing them almost nightly before bed (although you can do it first thing in the morning or in the middle of the day as a reboot). More than any other time in my life, I’ve been practicing observing my immediate experience without creating a story or a drama around it. Certainly, this has not been a perfect practice (hence the word “practice”), but it’s drawn so much attention and awareness toward how often I twist and contort the stories in my mind about a situation or another person into senseless mental loops that get me into trouble, creating mental tension either with myself or with someone else .
Working to stay ahead of the drama is applicable in any situation, whether you’re just sitting around hypothesizing about something awful that might happen or if you’re on your yoga mat fully identifying with mental/physical angst and declaring it as Truth. I have found this theme to be extremely potent while teaching any Hatha style of yoga because for most people, including myself, we when we feel INTENSE sensation in our body, alarm bells go off in our mind and the mind begins to spin a manic story around the experience that the temporary body is having. What if we could take a step back and experience sensation of the temporary body, as the eternal witness; that piece of us that is in the background taking in information neutrally and intelligently. That piece of us that, if you subscribe to reincarnation ideology, sticks around after the physical body dies.
As mentioned, I am nowhere near mastering the role of the eternal witness. I still create stories in my mind, react to them, and then later see the insanity of my words/actions and regret them. Thankfully, I’ve come to the point in my spiritual practice where I can forgive myself on the spot (mostly). I understand that my sacred goals are going to be lifelong practices, that I am having a human experience for the next however many years and all I can do is lovingly try my best to evolve and wake up.
If you’re experiencing drama in your life, in a relationship, at work, with a behavior or a habit, I invite you to try. Join me and many others on this road of the witness. Perhaps we will find that we have far more in common that we knew.