By  Vanessa Webb | 

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. 

My Yoga Nidra teacher Michele (whose profile you can read on the Yoga Teacher page) notes how common it is when beginning a Nidra practice, to begin the practice with a Sankalpa around what we can get in the world…trying to manifest things in life; this will change and develop through practice, to what One can be in the world.  It’s not wrong to want to get, but as the Nidra practice becomes more developed so does the prayer (the Sankalpa) become more evolved, more all-encompassing of what the human heart wishes to bring forward….and this can be limitless.  Why would we want to limit ourselves to desiring momentary needs.

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.