Other Meditations : yoga nidra and moving meditation

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a scripted practice where the teacher guides students to a place somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. Yoga nidra is a tool for ridding the mind of self-doubt and negative self-talk. It is a ten-step process that starts with relaxation and culminates with awareness of the stories and images that populate the subconscious.

Ten steps of Yoga Nidra:

1. Initial Relaxation

Instruct students to lie on their mats. Use props to encourage warmth and comfort. Instruct students to relax each body part (toes, fingers, muscles, joints, etc). Instruct the process by counting backwards from five at each body part or tell students to contract each muscle, as you instruct, and then relax that muscle. Move on to the next one.

2. Sankalpa (intention)

Tell students to set an intention for themselves. The sankalpa is to come from the intuition and is to be recited in the present tense and in a positive tone. Instruct students to repeat the phrase three times to themselves.

“I am strong”

“I am courageous”

“I will prevail”

3. Rotation of Consciousness

Guide students to be aware of each body part, one at a time. This is different from the initial relaxation because students are to remain aware of your guidance. Instruct students to hear what you are saying, feel the body part, visualize the body part, repeat silently the name of the body part and recognize the transition of awareness from one body part to the next.

4. Sensation of Opposites

Suggest an awareness of physical and emotional opposites. Hot/cold, full/empty, big/small, light/heavy. Advise that the awareness of opposites in the physical and emotional body is an attitude of witness. By witnessing opposites, students observe how the mind influences the body.

5. Awareness of Breath

Instruct students to listen to their breathing. After a few minutes of just listening, guide them to imagine their breath in certain areas of the body. Suggest just the left side, just the right side, into the belly and chest, or any combination of the above.

You may also suggest a breath extension exercise. Instruct students to exhale as you count 1-2-3-4. You could do more or less counts. The point is for students to create awareness of their breath.

6. Visualization

Suggest symbols or images for the students to visualize. Use chakra symbols, colours or items from nature such as trees or stars. Provide some context to frame the visualization. If you use colours, for example, mention some properties of the corresponding chakra. You are leading students through a visualization exercise, and the power of suggestion is very prominent in this exercise.

7. Images and ideas from the collective conscious

You describe a variety of images for students to focus on. Use ideas from the collective conscious such as the sound of children playing, the smell of freshly cut grass, the image of a full moon or a sunset, a calm lake or a cozy cabin. Following that, you include an archetypal journey.

Describe something like being led down a snowy nature trail, towards a warm and brightly-lit cabin. Inside the cabin is a symbol that the student will find and bring back from the journey. Describe colours and images that the student might see, but do not specifically describe the symbol. Each student will see their own personal symbol. You are leading the narrative, but students attach their own meaning to it.

8. The Return

Guide students back to the beginning of the journey. Have them imagine that they are carrying the item. Describe sights and sounds along the way, but no need to go into the same detail as in step seven. You can leave more gaps in your narrative this time and allow more time for silence because students are immersed in the meditation at this point.

9. Sankalpa

Recall the intention that was set at the beginning of the meditation. Tell students to repeat the sankalpa three times silently.

Patiently guide students back to awareness of the present moment. Gradually wake students up by instructing them to breathe deeper, then to gradually feel the sensations in one limb at a time. Eventually guide students to sit up and sit quietly in meditation. 

10. Closing

Patiently guide students back to awareness of the present moment. Gradually wake students up by instructing them to breathe deeper, then to gradually feel the sensations in one limb at a time. Eventually guide students to sit up and sit quietly in meditation. 

Below is a link to a 20-minute Yoga Nidra Practice

https://youtu.be/7H0FKzeuVVs

Meditation of Movement

Meditation is often referred to as “sitting,” but framing it only as sitting excludes the potential for finding meditative bliss while moving.

Ideal for energetic students

Suggest to beginner and experienced students alike that practicing meditation while moving is ideal if they’re feeling energetic. The value of a meditation practice cannot be overstated, and the more you practice, the more you will realize how important it is to your daily routine. The reality is though sometimes you don’t want to sit still. If you have a job where you sit in front of a computer for six hours daily or if your hobbies include quiet activities like reading or sewing, you probably don’t want to add yet another sedentary activity to your day. Fortunately, meditation can be done while the body is in motion.

Asana is moving meditatation

Asana practice is a moving meditation in itself. By focusing on the movement of the body, you encourage your mind to go silent. The trick of course, is to be present. Focus completely on linking breath with each movement and with patience and practice, the mind’s chatter will quiet.

Keep in mind that beginner yoga students will struggle to understand how the poses can be meditative. Beginners might find asana intimidating, confusing or frustrating and adding another “expectation” that they also meditate while moving their bodies through unfamiliar poses may discourage them so much that they don’t pursue yoga any further.

Walking Meditation

Walking is a useful example of moving meditation. Before going for a walk, set a mantra. Repeat the mantra as you walk along and use the rhythm of locomotion combined with mantra as a tool to quiet your monkey mind. Another technique for walking meditation is a variation of bhakti yoga. As you walk, notice the nature around you (even if it’s just weeds growing in the cracks of the sidewalk!) In your mind, express love and gratitude for the flowers, trees, birds and tenacious little weeds that you see.

By noticing and adoring the simple things, you are turning your attention to the present moment and occupying the space in your mind that might otherwise be engaged in obsessive chatter about the future or past.

Meditation of movement is a useful alternative to sitting if you have a lot of energy, if you don’t want to sit still or if you have a condition like restless leg syndrome or back pain that makes sitting uncomfortable.