“i Rest” Yoga Nidra Practice (Richard Miller, Ph.D.)
All regular meditation and yoga practices are capable of bringing us closer to our true self and our relationships in the world. A by-product is deep relaxation and equanimity. Richard Miller, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychologist, yogic scholar, spiritual teacher), has created a yoga nidra practice that promises to return us to our authentic self and provide deep, relaxation and inner peace in the process. The iRest method is based on long-term practice and research. Yoga nidra is a pathway to improved health, awareness, and inner healing. It has been effective in problems related to stress, anxiety, sleep, trauma, and physical pain. I suggest it may be equally effective in all psychological pain. In neuroscience theory yoga nidra may reset your central nervous system, improve coping capacity, and open doorways to spiritual development. In the following yoga nidra meditation I have integrated my own yoga nidra practices with the iRest method presented by Dr. Miller. Let’s begin!
- Place your body in a comfortable positions sitting, lying down, or standing. Enjoy silence in the pause. Close your eyes if ok.
- Allow your body to settle down and simply notice your full awareness. Notice silence in the pause.
- Open up your senses without evaluation, and notice delicately your body contact with parts of the world beyond the body boundary. Pause.
- Be open to noting the contact experience, and prepare to go inward inside your body. Notice as we pause in silence.
- Gently notice without evaluation the sensations you feel as we move up and down the body. Quickly at first. Up and then down!
- Starting with your toes, simply notice sensations; then move up slowly all the way to your hips, noticing sensations as you move your intentional kinesthetic awareness. Be with the silence in the pause.
- Continue your inner, private body scan moving from the hips all the way up your chest and to the top of your head. Silence!
- Just notice sensations and continue to be aware without judging.
- Now move slowly from the head back down your back to the hips. Notice the quality of the silence in the pause.
- Again, with intentional attention without thinking move down from the hips all the way back to the toes. Remain silent inside.
- Now ever so gently notice your intentional in and out breaths. Breathe deeper, slower. Notice.
- Notice and allow the sensations of breath passing into your nostrils, down the throat, into the chest and lungs. Notice the rise of the belly on the in-breath. Do all this without thinking – only noticing the sensations your feel. Enjoy this silent pause. Let go.
- Now notice the out-breath and follow the same sensation track as your exhale. Notice! Remain silent inside and outside.
- At this point in our process, bring attention gently to an area of the body where you feel discomfort, pain, or suffering.
- Simply allow and welcome this sensation as if it were simply sensations – like those you just experienced. Pause in silence.
- Blend the earlier pleasant sensations with this uncomfortable sensations. Notice! Settle deeply into the silent pause.
- In your effort to accept all sensations, notice the discomfort and note if it is stronger at its center or at the periphery. Where?
- Focus more attention where there is less discomfort. Go deep into the silence here.
- Does your unpleasant sensation have a color? Focus on the color. Now focus on an opposite color or your favorite color. Notice.
- Let go of reactions to the discomfort on each and every exhalation, and especially in the gaps/spaces between breaths and awarenesses. Be with the silence now.
- Continue to let go in the longer silence here.
- Does the sensation have a character texture? Is it dense or loose? Heavy or light? Sharp or dull? Go to where there is less discomfort. Be in your inner most silence now.
- Radically accept all your bodily sensations – the pleasant along with the unpleasant. It is only sensation; it is your reaction to it that causes you problems. We wish to flee discomfort and hold onto pleasure. Just be with what is! Just be in silence now.
- Allow your body to remain aware, accept, integrate all the forms of sensation you are experiencing.
- Examine your control by bringing focus to the pleasant sensations, now to the unpleasant sensations. Accept them all as simply sensations without evaluating. This may be challenging. Find some peace in the silence.
- Now allow your senses to open up and notice what you feel, hear, see, taste, smell. etc.
- Use the power of your inner spirit to help you improve this moment of perfect being. Empower spirit! Sit in silence now.
- When you feel ready slowly bring yourself to a full alert state. If your eyes have been closed, gently open them.
- Now just rest!!!!! Enjoy the silence. I will cue you when we are ready to end yoga nidra.
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness