Nondual awareness may be described as the container, the agency and the agent of healing in psychotherapy. Yoga Nidra (to be knowingly awake as awareness throughout all states of consciousness) is an ancient tantric (psychocosmological) process in which the various psychic processes within consciousness, both positive and negative, are explored and welcomed into awareness. In welcoming, we find our self as nondual awareness in which resistance to what is dissolves and in which healing spontaneously unfolds.
In this chapter, the author provides a brief overview of his personal and professional experiences using Yoga Nidra as a psychospiritual tool for self exploration. The 12 step process of Yoga Nidra is explained along with an overview of the core constituents of Yoga Nidra, which include awareness, listening, welcoming, the perspective of the opposites, disidentification, immanence and transcendence. A case study is provided that elucidates the use the use of Yoga Nidra during psychotherapy and selected readings are provided for further studies.
When a person dwells on the pleasures of the senses, attraction for them arises within the mind. From attraction arises desire, the lust of possession, and this leads to passion, and anger.
From passion and anger comes confusion of mind, then loss of remembrance, the forgetting of duty. From this loss comes ruin of reason, and the ruin of reason leads man to destruction.
But the soul that moves in the world of the senses and yet keeps the senses in harmony, free from attraction and aversion, finds rest in quietness.
In this quietness falls down the burden of all sorrows, for when the heart has found quietness, wisdom has also found peace.
There is no wisdom for a person without harmony, and without harmony there is no contemplation. Without contemplation there cannot be peace, and without peace can there be joy?
Bhagavad Gita 2:62-66
I first became acquainted with the practice of Yoga Nidra during my initial yoga lesson in 1970. As I lay on the floor our instructor led us through a guided body meditation, which I later learned was a form of Yoga Nidra. I drove home that evening a freedom from all conflict. I felt radiantly joyful and attuned with the universe-that my self, the universe and everything in my life was perfect just as it was. I experienced my self as a witnessing presence that was both in my body as well as aware of my body. For the first time in my life I realized that I was not separate, but part of the mystery of life. While these experiences slowly faded over the next few days, they left behind a longing to fully embody this radical understanding and to seek out a greater knowledge of the process of Yoga Nidra.
During the subsequent years I have investigated this process through many avenues including readings into the nondual tantric wisdom traditions from which the practices of Yoga Nidra are derived, countless personal experiments with the processes of Yoga Nidra as well as my experience in leading hundreds of students and clients in the process of Yoga Nidra during innumerable Yoga classes, meditation retreats and psychotherapy sessions.
I continue to be impressed with the simplicity of the process of Yoga Nidra and how it can lead to profound transformation and radical awakening. Yoga Nidra evokes the truth over and again that awareness pervades everywhere, sees everything and is intimately involved in and part of every thing. My first-hand experience through this practice is that we are not separate from awareness or life, but integrally part of everything. And awareness, when it is fully embraced, is like the mother's caress. As we describe our troubles into awareness, awareness reaches out and receives our troubles with utmost attention, tenderness and love. As we steep in the caress of awareness, we are encouraged to describe even more of what troubles us. In this describing, everything empties out into awareness and our troubles dissolve because they are formed out of false beliefs. As we describe our self into the caress of awareness, our sense of separation dissolves and our true underlying nature as nondual joy that is independent of cause spontaneously arises.