Meditation. The very word invokes scenes of serenity and tranquility, beckoning us to a mystical place of awareness and all knowing. But how many of us actually reach that state during hours of sitting on our cushion?
For most, meditation is as elusive as any esoteric practice could be. In frustration, many practitioners may give it up in favor of Hatha Yoga or some other discipline in which they feel they are accomplishing something. Without question, meditation is difficult. In a single hour, our brain processes some 2,000 thoughts. How challenging it is to sit and simply observe those myriad thoughts without becoming involved in a mental dialogue about them. Our legs invariably begin to ache, our skin itches and we become totally dissatisfied with our performance, deriding ourselves for our inability to even sit still for half an hour. Such self-judgment could not be further from the aim of meditation.
In the practice of Yoga Nidra and Third Eye Meditation, the practitioner has the welcome opportunity to drop all the typical entrapments of traditional mediation. Yoga Nidra is the marriage of science and spirit-a simple healing technique practiced by yogis for millennia. It is the unique combination of alert awareness and deepest relaxation, which takes your brain to the alpha state and eventually the even deeper theta wave state, releasing the integrative powers of the Third Eye and the higher centers of consciousness. Here, without effort or strain, you are able to tap into your own source of intuition, creativity, health and abundance.
Modern research has proven the benefits of meditative techniques on lowering stress and promoting overall health:
- Electroencephalograph studies (EEG) demonstrate the increase of alpha brain waves, which are directly linked with the relaxation of the nervous system
- Stress hormones are reduced, blood pressure and heart rates decline and the metabolic system slows down
- Regular practice adds years to your lifespan (5-12 years if practiced daily)
- Reactivating the pineal gland secretes melatonin, which helps prevent illness, retard premature aging, induce more restful sleep, boost the immune system, and promote healing
The literal translation of nidra is sleep. However, in the practice of yoga, it is a dynamic state, not the unconscious sleep of slumber. It is practiced in a comfortable lying down position, shavasana. The facilitator guides you through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions that you perform mentally. In some methods, visual imagery is used or a scan of the body, where the mind momentarily focuses on a marma point (e.g. shoulder, elbow, wrist, and so on.) This occupies the mind with something mundane, preventing it from becoming involved in the usual mind-chatter that absorbs our ordinary consciousness and diminishes our energy.
Within a short time, the practitioner is submerged in the alpha state, where brain rhythms drop into the silent space within. Once your body is relaxed and your mind is calm, all energies are focused on the Third Eye, the inner sanctuary located between the eyebrows. Here you are simultaneously able to access both the logical left brain and the intuitive, insightful right brain. This naturally and effortlessly brings you into integration, where you experience deep relaxation yet remain aware and conscious.
Modern science now reinforces what yogis discovered thousands of years ago-that focusing on the Third Eye reactivates hormones located in the pineal gland in center of the brain. This concept is central to both Yoga Nidra and the Amrit Yoga system. Scientific studies confirm that the pineal gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent in helping prevent illness, retard premature aging, reduce stress, induce more restful sleep, boost the immune system, and promote healing.
While ordinary sleep may renew the body and refreshes the mind, it cannot alter your unconscious programming. Yoga Nidra relaxes, rejuvenates and renews not just the physical body, but also empowers you to eliminate the unconscious obstructions that keep you from connecting to the source from which your inborn potential may be actualized.