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Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Richard Miller: Yoga Nidra


Awakening from the dream

Yoga, often inadequately translated as “union,” represents both the action of awakening to, as well as the description of, our underlying True Nature or pure Being that is the birthing ground of authentic spontaneity. Nidra or “sleep,” on the other hand, is the state in which we are unconscious to True Nature, when we are identified with, and swayed by, thoughts and actions that are based on misperception and reactive patterns. Yoga Nidra represents a paradox and is a play on the words “sleep” and “awake” as it means “The Sleep of the Yogi,” and implies that the normal person is asleep to their True Nature through all states of consciousness—waking, dreaming, and deep sleep—while the yogi is one who is awake to and knows his or her True Nature across all states, even sleep.

When we sleep, we believe our dream-self and dream-world are real. When we wake up, our dream-world gives way to the waking state, and we recognize that the dream-self and dream-world are actually empty of substance. They are only fabrications and projections of the mind.

During waking consciousness, we perceive the world to be made up of solid and separate objects. We believe that our waking thoughts and the objects around us are real. But, could it be that waking-state thoughts and objects are also fabrications and projections of the mind, as empty of substance as our dream-self and dream-world? Yoga Nidra is the process whereby we explore and discover the truth of this fact.

Usually we have no reason to question the validity of these beliefs. But there is good reason why we should. Yoga Nidra reveals that all dream and waking phenomena—thoughts, emotions, sensations, images, and the world around us—are constantly changing, coming, and going. Everything about our body, mind, and the world is constantly changing, morphing from one thing into another, a mass of swirling, changing sensations, emotions, thoughts, and images.

When we are attached to life being consistent, we feel dissatisfied; we suffer, because life constantly changes. We are constantly searching within this sea of instability for something stable and constant to hold on to. Yoga Nidra reveals that the inner fabric of each of us is deep equanimity or peace that is stable and steady, and when realized, is recognized to be ever present even in the midst of life’s tumultuousness. This is what Yoga Nidra refers to as your fundamental True Nature, your innermost I-ness—deep peace that you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that is always present.

Yoga Nidra teaches you how to inquire into the fundamental nature of your “I” that registers the fact that everything is changing. When we inquire into the who, what, and where of the “I” that is witnessing the smorgasbord of life’s changing phenomena, we discover that this “I” that we take ourselves to be is not solid either, but paradoxically, unlike everything else, it isn’t changing. Yoga Nidra helps you realize that your True Self, or true I-ness, is an infinite and unqualified spacious Presence of Being in which everything, both waking and dream states, is born, unfolds, and dissolves. With Yoga Nidra, you explore and discover the truth of your True Self, as Pure Being.

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