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Savasana is one of the postures fit for yoga nidra
Lying flat on your back, relaxing well

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 not all, though. By doing Transcendental Meditation, TM, which is simple and easy, you get de-stressed, better relaxed, and may improve your life too. Research on students and others who practice TM, show decent benefits in many areas. That is good news. [David Lynch Foundation's Research summaries for TM]

Otherwise, to get added benefits to relaxing and unwinding daily, you might 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. Further, in a relaxed state you might listen to some apt affirmations for building success, if you don't transcend (leave thoughts behind, go beyond ideas for a little while or longer).

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. These neat wishes of a sort that you form in deep states of mind, may 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. However, if you wish for the moon, your wish may not be fulfilled fast . . ." If wishes come true, depend on how easily they may be fulfilled also. Refrain from hopeless wishes . . .

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

Main factors

Be careful with what you wish for; you just might get it. - A saying

What you think you want, may be more than you can handle. Or it might not turn out as you think: for example if a desired outcome stops being very desirable once it has been attained. The secret is: You could need to be worthy of what you wish for, so as to keep it and maintain it steadily too. So: What you wish for, be worthy of it, at least in time. Attune to the fair and fit goals that you find, and work yourself up toward them and to become worthy of them also.

The first few wishes had better be attainable. Then the effects of the wishes you make, might depend on how well and wisely you meditate and relax and follow up. In other words:

  • How well and 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 example. A wish that is not too far out or way out of reach, could get fulfilled.

  • Maybe a suitable, congenial environment to bring about what you desire is a prerequisite. If you wish for coconut palms to grow on iceflakes on the North Pole, then much effort could go into making ice floes suitable for coconut palms to grow?
  • The factor of being thwarted should be considered and ways to overcome thwartings meditated on also. Some thwartings or hindrances may be overcome; others not easily, others with difficulty, and others "not to this day". Granted that, rivals may for example learn as slowly or fast as they can that only one of them can win. Suppose ten youngster learn the good sides to yoga nidra and its corollaries - and that five of them want the same girl to be his virgin bride.
  • If what you wish for, includes the wills of others in some ways, your wishes may fail if their wills are set otherwise - maybe so, or maybe not.

It is wise to test things a bit before trusting a lot. If you approach a mountain and talks it into throwing itself into the sea, as Jesus says a true Jewish follower is empowered to, you might become wiser.

It may be better to refrain from claiming a lot before testing it out well. Bombastic plans are not always accomplished, no matter how needed they might be.

There are many other lessons in this scenario. We may get very, very successful even though we don't get all our 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 without ending your life as you succeed.

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

Many wished-for mates fall

Men and women marry, and men and women get divorced. Be careful with what sort of mate you wish for, then.

We should wish for mating well instead of being unfaithful mates. However, about 30 to 60 percent of all married persons in the United States will be unfaithful to spouses, and about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. Hurt, pain, suffering and loss of wealth may follow soon enough. And the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. ◦Truth About Deception]

David M. Buss affirms in The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating:

Modern men place a premium on fidelity. . . . American men in the study of temporary and permanent partners evaluated sixty-seven possible characteristics for their desirability in a committed mateship, faithfulness and sexual loyalty emerged as the most highly valued traits. . . . Men abhor promiscuity and infidelity in their wives. Unfaithfulness proves to be more upsetting to men than any other pain a spouse can inflict on her mate. Women also become extremely upset over an unfaithful mate, but several other factors, such as sexual aggressiveness, exceed infidelity in the grief they cause women. (Buss 2003, 69)

Unfaithfulness in spouses gives rise to divorces. But some marry for getting well off by it, or for getting better off by a divorce. Such partnerships are not first-class. There are sinister statistics to indulge in. They surely document Ole's common-sense, "A wife is a person who helps you through all the troubles you wouldn't have had if you hadn't got married." See [Rahe and Holmes main stress-causing life events]

It all means there is a need to be circumspect rather than being all romantic before marrying in a fever. Prenuptials and perhaps better precautions should be mandatory so that a marriage is not a means to "rob" by divorce or mysterious death of a spouse, and so on. Divorces are sources of grief and pain in so many cases. They may be a need for treatment also. Happy divorces and "relief divorces" are somewhat uncommon on the other hand.

Sexual intercourse gives a couple the opportunity to evaluate how compatible they are sexually, providing important information about the long-term viability of the relationship. Through sex women can gauge such qualities as a man's sensitivity, his concern with her happiness, and his flexibility. Sexually incompatible couples divorce more often and are more likely to be plagued by adultery. (Buss 2003, 87-88)

Knowing beforehand what marks a fit life-partner is worth gold, and so is sheer luck in the choice of a partner or three as time go by. Also, sound precautions, deep knowledge or lots of foreknowledge and compatibility could all improve the odds for splendid living. Who knows? [Buddha's Gentle Middle Way]

Be careful with who you wish for, your wish might come true. And then what?

Affirmations do work

Philip Zimbardo and colleagues show how good affirmations help in various ways. Stereotypes influence how well students perform, and changing the stereotypes, called "stereotype lift", do it too.

[W]hat would happen if women affirmed their values just prior to starting an introductory physics course, where typically the average grade for women is C level, while it is B for males? Such a study was conducted by Akira Miyake and his research team (Miyake et al., 2010), which confirmed that the gender gap in college science achievement could be reduced dramatically by a psychological intervention of values affirmation . . . among the students who affirmed their own values, this gender gap nearly vanished. Those women who were self-affirmed got far more B grades, and far fewer got Cs. The same effect was found for the FMCE measure of understanding basic physics concepts. (Zimbardo 2012, 498)

Gains can be sustained for years. (Ibid. 499) Affirmations and prayers have much in common. There are principles involved. Consider:

Hm An offering, consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental [prayerful mantra-recitation in tune with sacred texts can be] a thousand times." (Manu Samhita 2:85).

First meditate, then wish well, affirm and so on. Maybe a "mental prayer" in a deep state of meditation is not exactly a hundred times more effective than a muttered prayer, but only ninety-nine. Some things depend on what is prayed for, and how well it is done. In all cases allow for poetic licence - as long as the reckonings and estimates serve an idea that for better results, go deep first or develop depth as you wish well, affirm or pray or visualise and so on.

By first-class means, best results come more easily: this is in line with Buddha's explanations. Also, the Yoga Sutras, chap 2 say similar things.

Improving a lot by just visualising it

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:

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 extensively by 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"]

Satisfying visualisation of "Lie flat and get better"

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 yoga key, sanyama, is described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, chap 3:4 ff.

This says that calm relaxation with added thought while resting deeply, may remind faintly of the Sidhi side to Transcendental Meditation.

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

Get Fit and Constructive Expectations

First we learn to glide deep within, then simply wish things that fit well. 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].

Also, 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)

You may learn to expect good fortune a lot, and don't just wish feebly for it.

Yoga nidra, deep rest, yogic calm, relaxing well, anti-stress, yogic rest, Transcendental Meditation, relaxation ends, TM relaxation, visualisations, affirmations, Literature  

Allen, Matthew. 2004. Smart Thinking: Skills for Critical Understanding and Writing. 2nd ed. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Buss, David M. 2003. The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. Rev ed. New York: Basic Books.

Dembo, Myron H. 2004. Motivation and Learning Strategies for College Students: A Self-Management Approach. 2nd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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

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

Hills, Debra. Student Essentials: Critical Thinking. Richmond, Surrey: Trotman, 2011.

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

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

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

Zimbardo, Philip, Robert L. Johnson, Vivian McCann. 2012. Psychology: Core Concepts. 7th ed. Pearson

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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