200 TTC Weekday (Jan/Feb2014)
When Cindy led the class in Yoga Nidra, a practice where the body is asleep and the mind is aware, she instructed us to bring attention to our jaw and the tension we held in it… to our gums, our teeth, our lips, or bones — this reminded me of something I read earlier this some about alpha brain waves.
It was in a book called The Open-Focus Brain, a book with a method for meditating that will ultimately allow our brain to be more present — not unlike what Yoga intends for the mind-body-soul trio. It begins by discussing our crucial ADHD, an experience we all relate to. It describes how we wander back and forth, needing to be constantly stimulated, constantly distracted. We need lots ands lots of small things to do. We need to be busy without actually producing anything. This busy-ness can feel good, but most often, it frustrates us.
The Open-Focus method is similar to the script Cindy used. It brought focus to the spaces in our body, allowing our attention to be inside ourselves, and yet removed from the normal day-to-day activities of our brain. Their research shows that this kind of practice allows your brain to slow to alpha waves — a slow wave that heightens focus, awareness, and creativity. It involves moving away from the scattered focus and the narrow-hard focus that we generally have, and moving into a softer, broader focus. He says “as my research continued, I found that I could increase the duration and amplitude, or power, of my alpha. After a few hours in alpha, some curious and wonderful changes started to happen. My muscle tone softened, and I moved a newfound effortlessness and fluidity; sometimes I felt like i was gliding when I walked. Anxiety evaporated. I felt extraordinarily present, centered, poised, open, lighter, and freer, more clamly energetic and spontaneous.”
This made Yoga Nidra a more digestible for me. It is something concrete that I can meditation on — without falling asleep. Remember, sleep is a side effect of Yoga Nidra, but not the purpose. I urge you to try it yourself!
Can you imagine the distance or space between your eyes?
Is it possible for you to imagine the space inside your nose as you inhale and exhale naturally?
Can you imagine the distance between your nose and eyes?
Can you imagine the space inside your throat as you inhale and exhale naturally?
Can you imagine the space inside your mouth and cheeks?
Is it possible for you to imagine the surface of your tongue?
Can you imagine the space between your ears?
Can you imagine the space between the tip of your chin and your checkbones?
Can you imagine the volume of your eyelids?
Can you imagine the space inside your throat and neck expanding to fill the entire region of your shoulders?
Can you imagine the volume of your upper arms?
And so on.
Are you still sleeping through your yoga nidras?