Which can be hard to do! Sometimes a strange thing can happen when we try to relax, especially by meditating - it can backfire horribly and we end up actually feeling less relaxed.
Perhaps because once we start to let go of mental control it reveals a frantic chaos within. Like naughty school kids when the teacher leaves the classroom, our thoughts and emotions can metaphorically start throwing paper aeroplanes at us and pulling our pigtails.
(Yes I went to school in The Beano!)
I think this is why it’s common to hear people say ‘I find it difficult to meditate’ or ‘I can’t meditate’ or even ‘I hate meditating’. It’s almost like they’re saying ‘I woulda reached inner peace and enlightenment even it wasn’t for you pesky kids!
(Yes the Bash Street Kids are now featuring in an episode of Scooby Doo)
If this sounds like you, then I reckon there’s plenty for you down the meditation rabbit hole.
(Ok, now we’re in Alice in Wonderland. Sorry - I watched a lot of TV as a kid.)
One of my favourite meditations is called a ‘Yoga Nidra’ which in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit is योग निद्रा. The most common translation is ‘yogic sleep’ though it’s more like the feeling of ‘going-to-sleep’.
Perhaps it should be called ‘yogic nodding off’.
If you’d like to give my version of a Yoga Nidra a go, watch the video below and you can download your own personal copy of the audio for free here.
If you’d like some guidance, there’s a few ideas below. And remember the old Zen saying - you should meditate for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy in which case, make it an hour.
Ideas for Yogic Nodding Off
Lie down on your back with the arms and legs outstretched and gently close your eyes.
This is the yoga pose called Shavasana (शवासन) fetchingly translating as the ‘Corpse Pose’. Have a little wriggle around to get comfy. If there’s discomfort or pain in the lower back, bend the knees and put the feet flat on the ground. You can let the knees come together in the middle to support each other. You can also put a pillow or rolled up blanket under the knees. And in fact anywhere that feels like it need support.
When I was started practicing Yoga Nidra there was barely any of me touching the floor!
Taking a yogic breath
If this is new to you it can take a little time and practice so be gentle with yourself.
I find it helps to put my right hand near my belly button and my left hand on my chest. On the inhale I focus on feeling the breath going deep into the belly and noticing the right hand moving up before switching focus to the chest and noticing the left hand rising. On the exhale I reverse this, so noticing the left hand return to its original position and then the right hand.
I've been doing this for nearly a decade and if I manage to get one yogic breath I'm delighted!
Om (like OMG but different. Maybe)
You’ll be invited to mentally say Om (ॐ) also spelt Aum (ओम्). If you’ve never heard it or said it before, it’s a mantra (मन्त्र) which translates as a ‘sacred sound’ and Om is the most sacredist (if such a word exits). It is the mantra of Bramha (ब्रह्मा) the Hindu Creator God.
Perhaps that’s were OMG came from?
Make a wish
You’ll also be invited to make a sankalpa (संकल्प) which translates as an intention formed by the heart and mind. You can choose a goal you might be pursuing in your life or a quality you wish to experience. The idea is that this is like a seed sown deep inside your soul that will blossom as it is nurtured by the meditation. Sounds nice right?!
I have used it for normal goals like a better job or more free time. These days I tend to focus on something personal I want to enhance or increase. So my go-to sankalpa is ‘I am living the highest version of myself through…’ and then I pick something like peace, or patience, or gratitude, or love.
At the end of the meditation you will hear me say the mantra ‘Hari Om Tat Sat’. The translation is said to be ‘that is truth’ and is a mantra for healing and restoration.
It is said to come from two mantra. ‘Hari Om’ (हरि ॐ) which translates as "the remover" and refers to the one who removes troubles, blockages and pain. Om Tat Sat’ (ओम् तत् सत्) which translates as "Om, that is Truth", "Om, it is Reality", "Om it is good" or simply "Supreme Absolute Truth" or "all that is."
With deep gratitude to my teacher and friend Atmavidya for her gracious guidance. Visit atmavidya.co.nz for more details.