“I tried meditation, but it doesn’t work for me. I can’t quiet my mind.”
When I ask people about their experiences with meditation, this is the most common response I get. I hear this in classes, at parties, and with my friends. The explosion of mindfulness in the mainstream media has left us with the misconception that we are supposed to quiet our minds, and this somehow is equated with being a “successful” meditator.
Of course, we all want our minds to quiet down. In today’s world we are so bombarded with external and internal activity, that most of us are left with a buzzing of inner activity that can feel intolerable. We feel like something is wrong with us. This inner activity is often felt as anxiety, and we try our best to get rid of the incessant thoughts, and the body sensations that come with them – racing heart, jittery, sweaty hands, and sometimes tiredness and even exhaustion. Unfortunately, the more we try to get rid of our thoughts and feelings, the more they seem to come back. Sometimes even stronger. For those of us who have experienced trauma, this can be particularly intense and challenging.
Fortunately, iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation offers a very user-friendly approach to meditation. It is a practice that can be done lying down, sitting or even walking. It can be used for falling asleep, an afternoon break, or even as a morning snooze alarm. iRest is a guided meditation that is usually practiced listening to a recording, but can be learned and practiced without external guidance.
Yoga nidra is an ancient meditation practice in the yoga tradition. iRest Yoga Nidra was developed by Richard Miller, PhD as a user friendly way of practicing yoga nidra that is available to everyone, not just yoga enthusiasts. The term ‘iRest’ stands for ‘Integrative Restoration’. Through the practice of iRest we become more internally integrated and experience a restoration of our own inner well-being. This is often described as a felt-sense of “coming home.”
When practicing iRest, we are learning to be present with different layers of our human experience: the body, breath, emotions, beliefs, and even joy. Through this present-centered awareness, we are developing the capacity to listen to our body, and come into a kinder relationship with our internal experiences. Interestingly, as we meet ourselves in this way, the mind often quiets, and we can rest deeply. We also develop a resilience for dealing with difficult experiences as they arise in daily life. Even embedded in the practice are specific tools to help us in daily life.
Within the ancient traditions of yoga, we find that underlying all meditation techniques is similar principle: We are already whole and complete, just as we are. There is within us that which have never been harmed, has never been damaged – an ever present inner light. iRest helps us directly experience this deep truth. Through practice, we come to befriend ourselves and our body and mind become our greatest allies.
At the Chicago Center for Integration and Healing, we offer several ways to support your ongoing meditation practice. We offer an 8-week ‘Introduction to iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation: a Trauma-Informed Practice’. After the introduction, many people return to keep deepening their understanding of the practice. Anytime after the introduction, you can also take a continuing class that is more experiential, with less structured discussion. We also offer a bi-yearly workshop for psychotherapists (including CEUs). Click here to view our current Yoga Nidra offerings.