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A posture fit for yoga nidra
How to advance through lying flat on your back, relaxing deeply

Yoga nidra may be rendered in English as "yogic sleep". There are numerous traditions of yoga nidra. A neat form consists of lying flat on your back and relax as you listen in to sounds that you hear after such as gentle breathing like Ujjayi. It is also possible to listen to lovely music while lying this, or recordings of essential teachings that are well prepared for such learning, also called superlearning. (Cf. Lojong mind traning; Ostrander and Schroeder, 1995].

That is about it. It is also possible to prepare recordings that guide you to relax by directing your attention to body parts, one area at a time, to get better relaxation. You do not really need guided recordings if you start from the head and work your way downwards to the toes.

It happens to some who lie and relax as suggested above, that they "doze off", more or less.

In such a well relaxed state after meditation it should be fit to affirm-and-visualise" a good goal that you think will be fine for you. Such a "commitment" is termed a sankalpa. Sankalpas, or neat intents (desire-determinations) that you form in deep states of mind, serve as positive directions.

During the practice of advanced yoga nidra, one appears to be asleep, but is aware. Hence, yoga nidra is also called a state of dynamic sleep. Normally when we sleep, we cannot make good use of this mental capacity. Yoga nidra enables the person to be conscious in a drowsy-like state and tune in to reaching good things in life. Sow positive seeds in the mind and water them by sustained attention in relaxed after-meditation states if you can, and they may get to sprout in your life. This is a yogic way of positive thinking. The awareness can go much deeper into more pleasant and deeper mind states than usual.

Yoga nidra in the form of guided visualisation technique, has been used to help soldiers from war cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome).

Yoga nidra may work against diseases that are wholly or partly psychosomatic, by the rejuvenating effects of deep rest and peace of mind and dominant, positive thinking. At least half of the most common physical diseases are thought to be caused wholly or in part by psychosomatic influences (Smith et al 2003:505). Yoga nidra has been made use of in stress management and therapy to enhance the learning process in education, to harmonize and awaken potential, and as a meditative technique. It is said that at worst you just fall asleep during the practice. Besides, psychoanalytic treatment shares the feature of deep relaxation as one means to deal with and work on past impressions.

Recollections of former experiences may be activated during deep relaxation, and symbols might likewise come to mind. Yoga nidra practice may assist real life attainments if well done.

We do not absolutely need guided recordings in dynamic sleep. Also, carefully verbalised instructions may enter our minds during beginning phases of sleep as well.

Yoga nidra, visualisation, advanced positive thinking and TM

◦Transcendental Meditation is a meditation method that brings about deep relaxation quickly. There is much research on TM.

The TM-Sidhi programme was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1975 as an extension of Transcendental Meditation. The purpose of the TM-Sidhi programme is to increase the benefits from the Transcendental Meditation technique by training the mind to think from the level of what may be called the source of the deep mind, that is, pure consciousness itself.

By learning to function in this way - being in deep meditation and setting thoughts in motion in the yogi way, the practitioner's thinking is said to become increasingly coherent so that his or her desires may be fulfilled more easily. One may add: "It remains to be seen and fairly documented. If you wish for the moon, your wish may not be fulfilled at once . . ." If wishes come true, depend on how easily they may be fulfilled also. Spare yourself; don't hope for the impossible, and refrain from definitely hopeless wishes.

What effects you get, depend on a sum of factors.

Main factors

  • How deeply you go inside;
  • To which degree you are in harmony with your soul;
  • How carefully you affirm, visualise or think; and
  • For how long.
  • Main results could depend on what you decide on too - whether what you go for, is achievable, for one thing. A wish that is not too far out or way out of reach, may get fulfilled first.

  • Maybe a third factor comes to the fore too: that of a suitable, congenial environment to bring about what you desire. What if you wish for coconut palms to grow on iceflakes on the North Pole?
  • The factor of being thwarted may get into the scene too. Some hindrances may be overcome; others not easily, others with difficulty, and others "not to this day". Rivals may slowly learn that only one of them can win. Suppose ten persons learn the good sides to yoga nidra and its corollaries - and that five of them want the same virgin. There can supposedly be only one who gets her.
  • If what you wish for, includes the wills of others in some ways, your wishes may fail if their wills are set otherwise, I think.

I would rather etch out such things squarely than to fool you or myself. I have seen others that have had great faith in going into meditation, or deep rest, and from that basis make stupendous changes to the world, or accomplish something at the very least. But soon it is made clear that not all they proclaimed initially, came about. And it did not come about regardless of faith in their approach, "indomitable will (Yogananda)" or in words of Jesus about throwing mountains into the sea, for example.

I suggest you try it out and see if you can refrain from claiming a lot before you set about. First go for small accomplishments, perhaps, such as learning to calculate. For if you fail, a certian lack of trust may haunt you too afterwards, and not only chagrined followers.

So, even if I won't go into details about yogis who have faltered in these respects - not here, at any rate - I suggest that bombastic or big plans are not always accomplished, no matter how needed they are, And if the hovering schemes are thwarted, what then? Followers may feel let down, get awfully disappointed, and not only that. They might leave such a guru, disregarding all the valuable things the guru said, set in motion, accomplished, and go on distorting or slighting the ex guru.

There are a lot of other lessons in this scenario. One is that you may be very, very successful even though you don't get all your yoga desires fulfilled. If you seek to swim upstream in life, make a point of not keeping your mouth wide open, but swim on until you may spawn or lay eggs the salmon way - hopefully a better way also.

The lesson: adhere to good yoga and learn to get happy also.

Improving

We have learnt that very much akin to thinking for success is visualising it with careful attentiveness. There is research that documents that visualisation of goals help, for example for improving athletic performance. And you may lie and rest while your visualise.

Well, the yoga theory is that the deeper you go, the more accomplished we should get at it. But we should also be careful and thorough while painstakingly forming desire-wishes. So "Be cautious about what you wish for; it could come true" - and that may not be the end of it. There is ample room for sound maturity here too. And note well:

A growing body of evidence from experiments performed by psychologists around the world, shows that visualizing works. (Gelb and Buzan 1995:54)

How well? That could depend on a lot (check the list above). It looks like the factors of mind-depth, thoroughness and calm for visualising may not have been given a place in research designs I know of in this field. Exactly how carefully things have been visualised may not have been taken care of by the design either, nor a set length for visualisation each time.

If you don't include vital factors for visualisation, you cannot measure their effects either. Then, what is measured may be of a rather loose, unsophisticated, rather crudely thought up, even undeveloped research design, and still such research tells that visualisation works, even surprisingly so.

An example:

Australian psychologist Alan Richardson tested performance in baskeball free-throw shooting. He tested and retested three groups and found that the group who had practiced each day for 20 minutes, had improved their shooting by 24 percent. The second group, who had been instructed to completely forget about baskeball, had made no improvement. The third group had been told "just to think about it" - by feeling themselves releasing the ball, see the perfect arc, hear the sound of the ball swishing through the net, and feel the satisfaction resulting from that imagined success - improved their shooting percentage by 23 percent.

"Other experiments have replicated Richardsonís results, not only in basketball free-throw shooting but also in a wide range of other activities, including dart throwing, ring-tossing, skating, and karate. The conclusion is that visualisation, especially when it is multisensory, can produce a marked increase in actual performance." (Gelb and Buzan 1995: 54-55, the quote: p. 55)

Visualization is used extensivelyby athletes to enhance their performance. Imagination is channeled into antecipating specific behaviours or events. Example: Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes. The group with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best. [Wikipedia, s.v., "Creative visualization"]

In the light of such findings - there are others too - basic features of TM and yoga nidra deserve to be tested.

Proponents also say the TM-Sidhi additions to the basic meditation method can lead to development of advanced human abilities. The key to such prowess is called sanyama. It is described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, chap 3:4 ff.

Thus, calm relaxation with added thought while resting deeply, is akin to advanced Transcendental Meditation.

Experiments with seemingly underdeveloped designs confirm that sound visualisation may work well. And there are many other areas we may try to improve ourselves in than sports.

Hopping and hovering in TM

Early advertisements for the TM-Sidhi program stated that its practice could lead to the development of extra-ordinary abilities such as development of the mind, empathy, compassion, invisibility, perfect health, mind-reading, extra sensory perception, walking through walls, omniscience, and so on.

Into the air somehow. Some who meditate through the TM-Sidhi programme are said to rise into the air. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought TM to the West, says there are three distinct stages of such Yogic Flying: 1) hopping, 2) floating, 3) flying.

  1. Since 1986, there have been public demonstrations of Yogic "Hopping" in many countries, where participants are hopping on foam mattresses while sitting crosslegged or in a seated "lotus position" [◦YouTube video of Yogic Flying A] [◦YouTube video of Yogic Flying B].

  2. As for stage two: soaring, hovering or floating, see a front page picture in a Norwegian newspaper - a rara avis, a rarity.

  3. The "flying stage" - third stage - was reached by the Tibetan yogi Milarepa, according to his biography. And that is what Tibetan canon tells. Catholic saints have also reportedly moved in the air, and non-religious people too at times. [More]

Now, the previous three paragraphs are examples of attainments aimed at by some in deep relaxation or TM. There are other aims also.

A rara avis: Levitating St. Joseph of Cupertino. His flying about was officially attested in his days.

Summing up a bit

First go deep within, then visualize or affirm or both as is fit for you. Going deep within (meditating) is the foundation work, too.

Visualisation practices are a common form of spiritual exercise. In Vajrayana Buddhism, up to complex visualisations are frequently used a href="phadampa-sangay.html#lojong">[see Lojong mind traning].

And Judo-like visualisation has demonstrable effects, writes Buzan and Gelb (1995:54-55, 57).

Visualization may also be a feature of positive thinking, which borders on affirmations as well. And balanced, "constructive" optimism can be good for you, research indicates. (Smith et al, 2003:522-23).

Luck and "constructive optimism" may go hand in hand. Dr. Richard Wiseman explains that when lucky people meet their perfect partners, achieve their lifelong ambitions, find fulfilling careers, and live happy and meaningful lives, their success appear to have an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time and enjoy more than their fair share of lucky breaks. He goes on:

This book describes the first scientific study into why lucky people live such charmed lives . . . The research took several years to complete, and involved interviews and experiments with hundreds of exceptionally lucky and unlucky people. The results reveal [that] lucky people are, without realising it, using four basic principles to create good fortune in their lives. . . . These principles can be used to enhance the amount of good luck that you experience in your life. (Wiseman 2003:1)

Here are the four principles of luck that Dr. Wiseman identified:

  1. Maximise your chance opportunities;
  2. Listen to your lucky hunches;
  3. Expect good fortune;
  4. Turn your bad luck into good. (Wiseman 2003:38-172)

A rather pressing question that remains is "How to do these things?" I leave to Dr Wiseman to tell so along the general lines, but you could need to be specific and follow up the first findings in some way too.

If we dive deep into the sea of mind first, and then affirm and visualise or just wish good, positive things to happen in our lives, our lot in life could improve. And if not, can we tell for sure that they have not backed us up anyway? Simply put: You may not know how much worse you might have fared without these four factors put to work for you from deep inside - Do take it to heart.

Positive thinking: Thinking is an energy resource and can change the world in area after area - or your part of it. It depends. Perhaps tapping into this great resource can work for various successes. Christopher Hansard teaches how to use such positive thinking for great ends, including living well enough. (Hansard 2004)

Learn to expect good fortune a lot - don't just wish for it.


Yoga nidra, Literature  

Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.

Gelb, Michael J., and Tony Buzan. Lessons from the Art of Juggling. Aurum Press. London, 1995.

Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder, with Nancy Ostrander. Superlearning 2000. London: Souvenir Press, 1995.

Hansard, Christopher. The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking: Skilful Thoughts for Successful Living. New paperback ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2004.

Wiseman, Richard. The Luck Factor. London: Arrow Books, 2004.

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