Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

world inside, modified 5 Months ago at 7/7/22 9:40 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/7/22 9:20 AM

Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 14 Join Date: 6/4/13 Recent Posts
I've completed 4 Anapana Courses at the Goenka Retreat Center when I was a kid (9-12 years old). Later when I was 16 I went to a full 10-day retreat at the Goenka Retreat Center again. Sort of stopped practicing until I was 21 when I started watching my breath whenever I was sitting in the car or had some time by myself. While studying physics, I started getting drawn to meditation again and started reading books to explore this dimension. Read loads of books from the Osho Library before I came across this gold mine and the MCTB. 

Between 2012-14 (when I was in my 30s) I read the MCTB cover-to-cover many times and restarted the Goenka Style Vipassana at full swing again. In 2013 there were times when I would meditate for more than 4-6 hours a day with a combination of watching breath and body scanning. Lucid Dreaming, Sleep Awareness and at times a feeling of consciousness turning in 180 degrees within the body in sleep happened to me and I still I'm unable to figure out, what it was. Could be a classic A&P experience, maybe not - but that's not why I'm writing this post. 

However, my question is - I could very easily focus on any one point or a dominant sensation in the body and could practice Yoga Nidra (sleep awareness) almost every single time back then. I'm trying to rekindle this type of meditation and I'm unable to do it. I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong? Is my concentration lessened? Or do I need to do both Concentration and Insight practices more to be able to do that again? 

My Process of getting into Yoga Nidra -
 - Lie down facing upwards (the ceiling) with eyes closed
- Focus on breathing for 2 mins after which focus on any one sensation in the body
 - Fall into Yoga Nidra

I've realized that occasionally this works, though not as profound as before when I keep my feet elevated? Does this make any sense why feet elevation would help a better trigger?
George S, modified 5 Months ago at 7/7/22 9:55 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 7/7/22 9:55 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 2596 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
 If you can't get into deeper concentration states then it's probably some combination of the 5 hindrances. Hard to tell without more detail, but generally speaking:

- sloth and torpor: could be tiredness, falling asleep faster?
- doubt: less likely, since you've already been in deeper states and know they are possible emoticon
- ill will: could be manifesting as frustration at not being able to get into deeper states
- restlessness: could be avoiding unpleasant feelings, forgetting that they need to be fully experienced to be released and enable concentration to deepen
- sense desire: could be a misplaced desire for the bliss of deeper states, forgetting that it arises from letting go of desire!

Getting familiar with the hindrances and seeing how they are blocking your concentration practice could be described as a form of "insight" practice.

 
T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 10:49 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/7/22 10:46 PM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 477 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for posting, sounds like an interesting practice history!

Can you describe the prior yoga nidra state a bit more? If I'm lying down meditating, I can sometimes breakthrough to a kind of mind awake / body asleep type state, but of course it is not really sleep itself, really just an intermediate state (perhaps analogous to "clear light of mind" sleep in the Tibetan tradition).  I'm curious about your experiences. 

​​​​​​​As for what could make it fade, time off the cushion and a decline in strength of mindfulness?  Maybe it will come back more strongly in time with renewed practice. 
world inside, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 9:54 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 9:40 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 14 Join Date: 6/4/13 Recent Posts
Thanks, George. That might actually make sense. Getting all the five hindrances on a placard helps. I'm going to start by a 5 min breath watching, 5 min of body scanning, and then seeing if either ill-will or sense-desire exists. Later try Yoga Nidra in the elevated legs position. I will post my experience to see if progress is made. I think ill-will might be there in subtle forms. Dealing with life and leaks in EQ, mixes bitterness in the system at the unconscious levels, and that sankhara (karma) resonates in your body that you generated while you were trying to get your life in order. That might be happening in my case. What do you think is a fix to that? Love kindness meditation?

I know a retreat might be a quick fix, where a conducive environment might work as a highway - however, it's not something that I can take on right now. Whether it is time off the cushion or gross realities where I might be progressing while stuff is uncovered - I plan to use my time at hand and press my foot on the gas. Simply increase the time on the cushion. Observe the change, if not then this could be the technique itself where I'm missing certain ingredients. 
world inside, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 10:03 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 10:03 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 14 Join Date: 6/4/13 Recent Posts
Hello TDC. Thanks! You might be dismissing something profound as mere "of course that is not sleep". 

Yoga Nidra, as a method of Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) that allows you to scan the body and tap into a state of relaxed consciousness as the mind settles in a place between wakefulness and sleep. The question is when you come out of this state, are you blissful? There used to be times when I slept only less than 3 hours a day by simply getting into this state and coming back renewed. This was without getting my blood pressure high, my digestion system affected, or any other side effects such as temper, appetite, or increase or decreased heartbeat levels. I know DHO is about pragmatism however for a pinch of motivation - if a person can practice Yoga Nidra at will, it is likely that one will do it at the time of leaving the body. This provides that person a choice of how transition happens, along with making somewhat cognitive choices. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 10:22 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 10:22 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 6847 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Keeping your feet elevated might have a positive effect on the circulation of both blood and lymph. I don't know if that's relevant, but I'm certainly more prone to awareness during sleep when I have done my yoga regularly - especially when I have been working with my legs, which should have a positive effect on the lymphatic system. Did you exercise more than now when you had your previous experiences? It could be as simple as that, but I'm no expert. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 11:22 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/9/22 11:22 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 2596 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It's counter-intuitive, but more time on the cushion is not necessarily the fastest way to deeper concentration. If there are off-cushion issues then it could even be a form of avoidance or ill will. When I find myself getting frustrated with concetration, it's often the case that there's some life issue which needs to be addressed, and once I've done that then concentration seems to magically open up again.

But yes, on the cusion loving kindness works well or any kind of pleasurable, warm, expansive feelings that you have access to (different flavors of sukha, happiness, joy, bliss, love, gratitude etc. - you can just repeat the words to yourself, see what resonates and allow the feeling to envelop you, which naturally reduces ill will)
Ben Sulsky, modified 4 Months ago at 7/11/22 11:37 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/11/22 11:37 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 157 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
Nice name 'world inside', heh

I donno if you need to push it too hard, all of this stuff is state/stage specific and striving too hard for somewhere you were 5 or 10 years ago might not be the right approach.  I reckon listening to the dharma and doing what calls to you will end up working better (and maybe that's this!)

I'm a big fan of this state and I've spent a lot of time here.  I started doing this a bunch because chilling in yoga nidra or Bhavanga (think this is roughly the same state) felt really nice and precipitated some no self experiences that are useful.  Also once you get used to it, you get these hazy visions that are kind of like lucid dreaming, and which come in between the sense withdrawal and the no self experience.

I do the same set up as you.  Lie down on my back eyes closed.  Gently ramp up the concentration until it's equaniminity-y and diffuse, then withdraw the senses and make the breath very subtle.  Let that cook for awhile and you'll get into the sense withdrawal state.  Once that deepens the body will dissappear and you'll get some visions.  These visions tend to be hazy because there's a degree of torpor in this state and you're really not quite sleeping; you're sort of in the middle.  They also are very hard to remember at first, but this doesn't mean you aren't having them.  Over time my memories of various visions has improved, but I often just come up for a few seconds or minutes back to conscious awareness to take a look at them and then I promptly forget them again for some reason; though I have memories of some of the wildest ones.  I tend to get some bubbly stuff from the subconscious where things come up in visual/mythical form and this is quite useful and cool and sometimes upsetting.  As the visions deepen I'll get blips (and I think duration) of no self, and then consciousness comes blasting back on after with a sense of joy and intense awareness.  I do a lot of coming up and down in this state, like going down into a deep well and then resurfacing to consciousness and then going back down deeper again and so on.

It helps to be relaxed and in a reasonably good ethical state.  If I'm stressed or exhausted or consumed by some issue or other then I find it way harder to get into states like this and there's a much longer setup/purification process before the mind will go here.  It's nice that you can enter this state when you're tired, and it's also nice that it's a restful state that builds you back up.  I have a toddler, so I'm tired a lot emoticon

To me this is all very different from lucid dreaming, which is also cool.  Lucid dreaming I find trickier because you have to go to actual sleep to lucid dream, and keeping mindfullness the whole time is subtle.  I have to get a little lucky to lucid dream, though there were certain stages of practice where for whatever reason I was doing it a lot.  When I was real jazzed about lucid dreaming I used to have really intense and wild dreams, and nowadays I don't lucid dream as much and when I do it's usually something banal.  So you never know.

Good luck have fun,

​​​​​​​Ben
T DC, modified 4 Months ago at 7/11/22 9:57 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/11/22 9:57 PM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 477 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
True, yes if we are talking about similar states, then definitely blissful and rejuvenative, and profound but also more subtle perhaps than expected. 

I just sometimes read descriptions of "clear light of mind sleep" that seem a bit overblown - yes it's a profound, unusual, and interesting meditative state, and can be quite restorative, but also it's not really a substitute for the profound restoration of actual sleep (and dreams).  ;)
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Dream Walker, modified 4 Months ago at 7/12/22 6:30 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 7/12/22 6:30 AM

RE: Yoga Nidra - Awareness during Sleep

Posts: 1478 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
world inside
Between 2012-14 (when I was in my 30s) I read the MCTB cover-to-cover many times and restarted the Goenka Style Vipassana at full swing again.
So you read it but disregarded the advice? Goenka body scanning? Ignore all other sensations as unworthy?
Cool, whatever.

In 2013 there were times when I would meditate for more than 4-6 hours a day with a combination of watching breath and body scanning. Lucid Dreaming, Sleep Awareness and at times a feeling of consciousness turning in 180 degrees within the body in sleep happened to me and I still I'm unable to figure out, what it was. Could be a classic A&P experience, maybe not - but that's not why I'm writing this post. 
Not very descriptive, but thats not why I will respond.

However, my question is - I could very easily
1)focus on any one point or a
2)dominant sensation in the body and could
3)practice Yoga Nidra
(sleep awareness) almost every single time back then.
I'm trying to rekindle this type of meditation and I'm unable to do it. I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong? Is my concentration lessened? Or do I need to do both Concentration and Insight practices more to be able to do that again? 
Kinda vague, which of the 3 things are you doing wrong? Dunno without detailed descriptions.

My Process of getting into Yoga Nidra -
 - Lie down facing upwards (the ceiling) with eyes closed
- Focus on breathing for 2 mins after which focus on any one sensation in the body
 - Fall into Yoga Nidra

I've realized that occasionally this works, though not as profound as before when I keep my feet elevated? Does this make any sense why feet elevation would help a better trigger?
Ok, still very limited description of Yoga Nidra. Have you read any books on such?
Not my area of expertise, such as it is stated. Sleep awareness is usually better with each path. OOBE is also a thing associated to sleep journey, however you wish to call it.
"My Big Toe" by Thomas Campbell
I recommend to those wishing to understand non physical experiences.
Good luck,
​​​​​​​~D

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