Sleep, glorious sleep! The holy grail. It was my favorite thing to do, until I stopped being able to do it.
I sleep all night (according to my lifelong eyewitness), but somehow it’s not satisfying. Somehow, I can get a full night’s sleep and wake up as tired as when I went to bed.
Add to that my social anxiety, and I might never get to sleep. On the off chance I should go to a party, my brain is abuzz afterward, backtracking and analyzing: should I have said this? I should not have said that! …and were they laughing with me or at me? (Hint: it’s at, always at.) I have watched the sunrise on many a Sunday morning after a Saturday night do, not for those fun reasons you see in the movies.
Recently, I found Richard Miller’s Yoga Nidra book and CD at the library, and checked it out on a whim. I do not love yoga. (Sorry, yoga, I have never loved you. You’re bizarre and uncomfortable; two things that do NOT relax me – see social anxiety above.) You see, my sister LOVES yoga, and has devoted her life to it, and I wanted to read the book to have something interesting to say to her. (See social anxiety above.)
The book contains a lot of yoga theory and some interesting exercises, but the CD – THE CD!! I put it in my laptop, plugged in my headphones, and felt like I went under sedation. The first time I played it, I fell asleep in my chair.
You’re not actually supposed to fall asleep, yoga nidra is more of a sleep-like meditation, but I must have needed the nap, because it was fantastic. After that, I felt great. I started listening whenever I could.
I felt pretty crummy confessing to my sister that I had been doing yoga, but it was cheating because it was yoga nidra.
“That’s not cheating!” she said, “There are thousands of different kinds of yoga. Yoga nidra is awesome!”
It turns out, you can find lots of yoga nidra on YouTube, and (if you live in the big city) even attend a class! (If laying in a dark room with a bunch of strangers doesn’t wig you out.)
The best part is, you can do a very short practice – from eight to twenty minutes works best for me, but longer meditations exist – and feel rested!
Miller now helps veterans suffering from PTSD in a program called IREST. I have the Kindle edition – it’s a lot of research, and the focus is not as “yogic.” I also like Jennifer Reis and Steve Wolf (he sounds automated, but he’s real.)
I don’t have to worry about sleep anymore! Whoopee! I can finally do all of those late-night things I’ve always wanted to do – when I think of what they are, I will let you know. For now, I will be doing my yoga practice without a care in the world about the person behind me seeing my underpants.
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