Don’t Think Everything You Believe: Yoga Nidra and the Power of the Mind

Written by on May 12, 2020 in Conscious Living, Meditation with 0 Comments

Thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are powerful elements in our lives. For many, they seem to rule our lives. Yoga Nidra is a powerful tool to understand our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs for what they are and begin to see them with a proper perspective.

Yoga Nidra is a Tantric practice. Tantra refers to a school of thought that says everything is part of a non-dualist great whole. In Tantra, the idea is that anything that suggests we are separate from anything else, is an illusion. Yoga Nidra explores perhaps our 5 greatest layers of the ego called the maya (illusion) kosha (sheath or body) By understanding our maya koshas, we can learn to not identify with the changeable parts of our beings but rather to use them as a way of exposing our True Self, Awareness.

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The Pranayamaya kosha deals in part with energy and emotions, the Manomaya kosha with mind thoughts and how thought leads to emotion, and the Vijnanamaya kosha, beliefs, dreams, the collective unconscious and even our own  deep wisdom. Just like everything else in the maya kosha realms, our thoughts, emotions, and even beliefs change. To think of them as reality is a misidentification away from your True Nature, Awareness.By understanding your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs for what they are, you dismantle their control over you. Instead you begin to identify with Awareness that experiences emotions, thought, or belief, for example, without confounding your identity as that emotion, thought, or belief.

Like everything, learning to use an emotion as a method of experiencing your True Self may seem like a tall order. Of course it may take practice to be aligned with Awareness enough to become objective about harsh thoughts or emotions but hey, that's what we are practicing by taking this course, right?


The Realm of the Mind: Manomaya Kosha

Research suggests that mindfulness benefits our bodies, not just our minds.

Things like anxiety, fear, or heartbreak, can't co-exist while you are relaxed. That's big! It is one reason why we emphasize relaxation so often as we begin the Yoga Nidra process. When relaxed, you may then observe any emotion arise and see it for what it is: an interesting part of you that changes and that ultimately may help you grow greater Awareness. Not Truth, not who you are.

Practicing switching between perceived opposite emotions is a skillful way of stimulating your brain and allowing you to witness and be with, rather than react to, certain emotional states. Remember that sometimes this takes practice but can be very effective even from the first practice of doing this.

In the late 1950's, Joseph Wolpe added to Pavlov's work by developing a treatment for anxiety using counter-conditioning. He stated that anxiety symptoms were lessened or eliminated when stressors were presented gradually and also systematically and paired with a relaxation response. Relax and then address your emotion to see it with the right perspective. Remember you are Awareness that experiences emotion, not emotion itself. Yoga Nidra can help some practitioners deal with some of the things that give them stress and even trauma because Yoga Nidra helps you to be relaxed enough to observe all kinds of benign objects, like the sensation of your hands for example, as a way of learning to also witness things like stress and emotions with the same kind of objectivity. When practiced regularly, it weakens your stress response and instead you can merely observe something that otherwise would stress you out.


The Only Way To Get There Is To Be Here: Emotions and Beliefs


Failure to acknowledge where you are in life ironically keeps you locked in that place like a prisoner. Don't deny the emotion, for example. Rather, Yoga Nidra helps us to face whatever comes up for you and practice witnessing it. Therefore emotions will often lose their power to control your life.

Some cool things about the layer of beliefs, symbol, and dreams, the Vignanamaya kosha:

It lies beneath our rational mind. P.S. “rational” isn't Reality (with a capital R)–it's just the best way our brains seem to create an order in an otherwise chaotic world the best it can.

A compounded thought turns into a belief. Think it long enough and you actually believe it. Like everything else in this Universe, beliefs are neither True or not true. They are just beliefs. They come and go.

Archetypes are a fascinating way of examining the Vijnanamaya Kosha. When I think of a wise person, I think of Gandalf, the wizard from Lord of the Rings. He is my archetype I hold for my inner-wisdom. If I were to summon that wise person inside of me, the one that knows the answers and can tell me where to go, I'd think of Gandalf and see what he says. I know that Gandalf is really just the deep wisdom part of me.

Remember that what comes up when we examine our dreams, symbols, and archetypes, lies beneath our rational mind and therefore doesn't always make sense, nor does it need to. Just have fun with it and see if it speaks to you. If not, think of it as an interesting way to practice paying attention and move on. It's like examining your dreams for symbols that might represent something happening in the conscious realm. Just have fun with it.

As always, our primary objective with Yoga Nidra is to cultivate and identify as Awareness. Allow everything that presents itself as you welcome, recognize, and witness it, as a tool to practice Awareness.

Enjoy my FREE Tranquility Tool Kit, including a few Yoga Nidra recordings, some yoga videos, and more.


Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he's not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.


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