I participated in a Yoga Nidra on January first, as I have for the past two years, and as usual it did not disappoint. January first is the perfect day for such an event as it helps to set the stage for the next twelve months. For those who don’t know, a brief explanation of a Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, an extended meditation practiced in sivasana, designed to guide the practitioner toward their specific objectives, goals, or intended focus. A sankalpa, or seed, is used to define that focus and incite the will of the mind. The sankalpa is a personal, positively affirmed statement; for example, if I want to cultivate a writing life I state my sankalpa as “I am creative.” In fact that was my first sankalpa this year. This has been an extremely powerful practice for me, enabling me to make considerable changes in my life from healing my digestive system and drastically improving my health, to freeing myself from marital bondage.
That is not to say that Yoga Nidra single handedly did all that, but the Yoga Nidra, as the guiding force in my life, directing my overall actions towards specific goals, in concert with a yoga asana and meditation practice is an unstoppable force. Because of yoga my life will never be the same again, and that’s okay with me, in fact, it’s fabulous! Yoga gave me the courage to leave my marriage, an act that I had contemplated nearly annually for the entire 18 years I was married, having realized within the first month after our wedding that I had made a terrible mistake and feeling stuck and unable to take action. Being Irish, and committed, and stubborn, I chose to stick it out, to see if it would get better. I can hear you now. “Coward,” you are saying, but that‘s how it was for me. I was too afraid to leave, afraid of financial insecurity, loneliness, the future, to name a few, hiding my head in my hole like a frightened little rabbit. That is why I want to embrace courage even more in the new year; that was my second sankalpa, “I am courageous.”
My third and final sankalpa is to be forgiving, “I am forgiving.” I am usually able to cultivate at least two out of three so I do not have high hopes for this final goal. Well, maybe it’ll be first on the list next year. All joking aside, for me the practice of Yoga Nidra is progressive, meaning I started at a more base level, focusing on physical health and vitality, and slowly advanced to more spiritual concepts, such as openheartedness, creativity, courage, and forgiveness. So far it has worked for me and I encourage everyone to investigate this practice. I am now like a child, enthralled by wonder and anticipation of what the future might hold for me. That is a long forgotten and wholly welcome feeling.