I have always been a restless sleeper. Even as a child, I would toss and turn, my thoughts racing, counting sheep into the early hours. As an adult, this problem only escalates. The stress of work, family, and everything else life throws my way made sleep a nightly struggle.
Moreover, I have always been fascinated by my dreams – their vividness, their symbolism, their unpredictability. Some mornings I woke up with such clear memories of dream adventures that I felt as if I had been living a completely separate life while I slept.
In search of a solution to my sleep problems and to better understand my dreams, I came across yoga nidra – a yoga practice that promises deep relaxation and heightened awareness of the subconscious. It seemed like an interesting approach to sleep and dream exploration.
So I decided to give it a chance. I committed myself to practicing yoga nidra every night for a week before going to sleep. I hoped it would not only improve my sleep, but also influence my dream patterns.
What happened next was surprising. My dreams didn’t just change – they transformed in a way that challenged everything I thought I knew about my subconscious.
Now, a year and a half later, living in Colorado after seven years previously in Singapore and New York City, I still regularly practice yoga nidra. And even as I’ve adjusted to the rhythms of life in the Rockies, the impact this simple bedtime ritual has had on my dreams continues to amaze me. Here’s how my week-long experiment with yoga nidra changed my dream patterns and ultimately my understanding of my own mind.
How I practiced yoga nidra before going to sleep
I was skeptical at first, but my first foray into yoga nidra involved a simple but specific routine aimed at achieving a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, where the mind is most receptive.
Step-by-step guide to practicing Yoga Nidra
- Setting the scene: Every evening I devoted half an hour before going to bed to this exercise. I chose a quiet, dimly lit room in my house so I wouldn’t be disturbed. Creating a peaceful environment is crucial for yoga nidra.
- Get comfortable: Lying in a comfortable position is key. I used a yoga mat and pillow for my head, but you can also use a bed or other flat surface. Make sure you are warm enough, possibly with a blanket, because the body can cool down if you lie still.
- Using guided meditation: Yoga nidra is typically practiced through guided sessions. I used headphones to listen to a recorded yoga nidra meditation. There are numerous online resources available, from free YouTube videos to specialized apps. Choose a voice and style that resonates with you.
- Focus on breath and body: The guided meditation started with deep breathing exercises, which allowed me to focus inward. It then guided me through a body scan and asked me to mentally acknowledge and relax every part of my body, from head to toe.
- Set visualization and intention: The guide often instructed me to visualize calming images and set intentions (Sankalpa) for my practice. These could be affirmations or solving a certain problem in your life.
- Transition to relaxation: As I followed the guide, I noticed a shift in consciousness. The idea is to float in the liminal space between waking and sleeping. It is normal for the mind to wander; the key is to gently return your focus to the guide’s voice.
- End the session: The session would end gently, usually by gradually bringing awareness back to the body and environment. Before I got up, I took a moment to internalize the feeling of calm and relaxation.
The first few nights required adjustment. Because I was used to restlessness, it felt unusual to lie still with my eyes closed and focus solely on a voice guiding my thoughts. But by the third night, I found myself getting into this relaxed state more easily.
This practice had a profound effect on my dream patterns. They moved from random, disjointed sequences to vivid, narrative experiences, offering deep insights into my subconscious.
These changes in my dream patterns made me question some commonly held beliefs about dreams and our subconscious. My experience with yoga nidra has led me to develop a perspective that differs from what many people assume about the nature of dreams and their connection to our waking lives.
Challenging common beliefs about dreams
Most people tend to view dreams as random, disjointed episodes – a kaleidoscope of images and events that are often unrelated to our waking lives. This belief was something I had subscribed to as well, until my experience with yoga nidra.
As my week of nightly yoga nidra unfolded, I noticed a distinct shift in the nature of my dreams. They were no longer disjointed sequences of events, but began to form coherent stories. They seemed to reflect my thoughts, emotions, and experiences from my waking life in a way that felt deeply and profoundly personal.
This shift in my dream patterns led me to question the common belief that dreams are random and meaningful. My dreams began to feel like extensions of my conscious mind, offering insights into my inner psyche that I had not previously had access to.
Deciphering the stories of my dreams
As my dreams started to take shape into more coherent stories, I decided to record them. Every morning, immediately after I woke up, I wrote down as many details as I could remember. The characters, the setting, the storyline – everything went into my dream journal.
Writing down my dreams crystallized them in my memory, making it easier for me to think about them later. As the days turned into weeks, patterns began to emerge. Certain symbols and themes kept popping up – and many of them seemed to reflect aspects of my waking life.
I began to explore these symbols and themes and relate them to my personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. This exercise helped me better understand my subconscious and gave me insights into my emotional state that I was previously unaware of.
If you have restless nights or are just curious about your dreams, I highly recommend trying yoga nidra and keeping a dream journal. It is an enlightening experience that has the potential to provide profound insights into your inner self. It certainly did for me.
Embrace change and live authentically
During this journey, I learned some crucial lessons about taking responsibility for my sleep problems, challenging societal norms about dreams, and ultimately living life on my own terms.
First of all, my sleep problems weren’t just a random phenomenon. I had to take the situation into my own hands and actively look for solutions. Yoga nidra was an unconventional approach, but it was a choice I made, taking responsibility for my well-being.
Second, our dreams are not just random series of images. They can be meaningful stories that reflect our subconscious. This was a direct challenge to the societal norm that often dismisses dreams as insignificant.
Finally, this entire experience reinforced the importance of living a life that aligns with my true nature. The insights I gained through yoga nidra and recording my dreams led me to greater self-understanding and self-acceptance.
These are the key insights from my journey:
- Taking responsibility for personal well-being is empowering.
- Challenging societal norms can lead to profound insights.
- Living a life that is in alignment with your true nature brings fulfillment and satisfaction.
This journey of self-discovery and personal growth has been transformative. It helped me realize how important it is to find solutions that resonate with who I am as an individual. It has also made me think about societal beliefs that may limit my potential and growth.
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