Oh the Places You’ll Go
by Adrienne Alane White
We spent our first week of Zuna Yoga’s 300 hour Meditation and Yoga Nidra Teacher Training learning and practicing the techniques we will use on our journey here. At the start of the second week, we’re standing on the platform, bags packed, ready to board the meditation train. The baggage we were carrying is the kind we wanted to leave ON the train at the end of the trip. While we have been practicing diligently, we still aren’t quite masterful yet. More like watching a child take off for the first time on their bike once the training wheels came off- a little wobbly, but excited for some freedom to ride on our own. Our mediations are getting longer each day with more and more unguided quiet space. The expansion and peace I feel afterwards is as difficult to put into words as the beauty of the Balinese landscape that surrounds us, and the lovely offerings to the gods left daily around the grounds of our retreat center.
We added another technique this week to our arsenal of meditation tools. If we are really going to gaze into the the looking glass, Alice style, it’s one of the best to get us there. It also works very effectively in combination with our breath meditations, and it is one of my favorites! Yoga Nidra, or Yogic sleep, is an amazing and effective tool of deep meditation, and it’s called yogic SLEEP for a delicious reason. In this practice, meditators get to lie down in a comfy savasana, relax their whole body, and be guided through a deep, restorative, and mind healing meditation. The best part is that anyone can do it! There is one caveat though… you have to stay awake (or more accurately aware) to truly receive the benefits. Not to worry though, even though you need to stay awake to listen, proponents of this practice say that as you float in this dream state you are resting in the delta waves of the brain, and that it is equivalent to a couple of hours of deep sleep! Yoga Nidra brings access to the sub and unconscious layers of the mind. In this state of deep relaxation, we can begin to reset and realign these parts of our being. According to yoga, we are beings with multiple layers (called the Koshas), and this was part of our study this week. These layers are a part of us from the densest - being the physical body, followed by the energy layer of the breath (or energetic) body, the body of the thoughts and emotions, our intellect, and finally the inner most layer- that of the soul. Our soul’s bright light can be dulled by the outer layers and the journey inward in Yoga Nidra takes us through all these layers to experience the bliss of our inner light. The guided practice is designed to systematically take you through the Koshic layers and get you reacquainted with the bliss of your true self, the bliss of your soul. “Sleep” in heavenly peace…
We are using very specific methods to go deep in this training. This is possible because we have skilled teachers (Everett and Katherine) guiding us, and we are also in a safe, peaceful environment, set apart from the stress of our everyday lives. Our goal: to be acquainted with no less than the ultimate truth of the Collective Consciousness. The great news is that there are many wonderful and gentle meditations techniques that can be used to relieve the stressors of everyday life. We’ve discussed mindfulness and walking meditations, which are wonderful techniques to create peace and serenity in the mind, as well as simple breath meditation practices that can bring many benefits in a 20-30 minute daily meditation. As we read in one of our texts, The Mind Illuminated, “a fully awake and conscious human being has the love, compassion, and energy to make change for the better whenever possible, the equanimity to accept what can’t be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The book also reminds that “a regular sitting practice has been shown to enhance concentration, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep. It is used to treat chronic pain, depression… (and) meditators develop valuable insights into their personality, behaviors, and relationships making it easier to recognize and change past conditioning and… they have a greater sensitivity to others, which is enormously helpful at work and in personal relationships”.
Well we are definitely feeling that love here. The group has become quite close and we are extremely supportive of one another on our individual challenges and journeys. We had fun practicing delivering meditations to each other one on one, and we used our best meditation voices as we received help, guidance, and vocal exercises from a professional voice coach. My OM-ing has never felt or sounded better, and that help came just in time for our week of adding the beauty of “endless” Oms as part of several of our group mediations. We enjoy each other so much that we spent our day off this week all together sampling another kind of awesome meditation: Sound Healing. What an amazing experience we had at the Pyramids of Chi, lying down and resting in the healing sounds of singing bowls, gongs, drums, bells, chimes and more. Such a relaxing and healing practice, and just goes to show that there is a meditation style for everyone!
As we jump on board for our third week of training, we want to take our practices slowly and mindfully. We want to be patient as our practice unfolds, never forcing, but allowing for a peaceful and gentle tide of breath to blossom in our meditations. As I’m surrounded daily by the so beautiful and so fragrant blossoms of the frangipani flowers here, I’m reminded of this quote by Anaiss Nin: “The day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I’m looking forward to my meditation practice continuing to bloom here, and also when I return back home. You can grow your very own practice too! Keep tilling the fertile soil of the mind, planting the seeds of intention, find your breath, and watch your meditation garden grow. And soon enough, you’ll have 25 newly minted Zuna Yoga meditation teachers to help you find the way.
Missed the previous installment of Adrienne's beautifully documented journey?