A practice to resolve and awaken to your true nature.
By Kelly McGonigal
The following yoga nidra practice is adapted from the teachings of Richard Miller, PhD, author of Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga. Use this practice to strengthen your resolve and awaken to your true nature.
Set the stage for yoga nidra by choosing a quiet place to practice. Come into a comfortable and relaxed position, such as shavasana (corpse pose). You can also practice yoga nidra in an upright seated position or supported restorative yoga pose.
Intention. Begin by setting the intention to give this practice your whole-hearted attention and to stay awake and aware rather than drift into identification with a dream state. You may experience dream-like phenomena, but it is possible to maintain a witness awareness throughout such states.
Inner resource of pure being. Your inner resource is the source of peace and happiness that exists within you and can’t truly be disturbed. Spend a few moments connecting to the sense of fullness and peace that exists in this moment.
Heartfelt desire. Welcome your sankalpa, the full heartfelt desire, into your conscious awareness. State it in words, and allow yourself to feel its resonance in your body.
Body sensing. Begin to rotate your attention around the body. Start from the sense organs of the mouth, nose, ears, and eyes, and work your way down the arms, hands, trunk, hips, legs, and feet. You don’t need to dwell for long on any given part of the body; allow your attention to linger briefly at each location, and then move on to the next. Notice any sensations that are present, and notice who is noticing the sensations.
Breath and energy sensing. Now bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe in and breathe out. Sense the flow of the breath in and out of your body. Notice the sensations of energy flowing in the body as you breathe. Notice any other flows of energy present, and experience the full energy body.
Embody the heartfelt desire. Bring your sankalpa back to mind, but this time, really bring it into your body and sensations. When you are fully connected to the desire, how does it feel in your body? Are there images, sounds, or smells that can express and support your intention? From this feeling of embodying the heartfelt desire, ask yourself what it would be like to live in the full awareness and strength of the desire. How would you act in the world? If there are specific actions you would like to take, see yourself and feel yourself taking those actions.
You can repeat this cycle several times, cycling between the state of pure being, stating your sankalpa, sensing the body, and bringing the sankalpa into the body and senses. With each cycle, the mind becomes better able to rest in awareness, and you can spend a little more time in each stage. Finish the practice by resting in the knowledge of the truth of your heartfelt desire.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, teaches yoga, meditation, and psychology at Stanford University and is the author of Yoga for Pain Relief (New Harbinger, 2009).