Today, I completed my first session of Yoga Nidra. I actually meditate a lot over the years, but I have never studied or tried any Yoga based meditation techniques. The first time I meditated was in the 7th or 8th grade, when my class from St. Athanasius (a Catholic school in Brooklyn, NY) went on a trip to the Mount Manresa, a Christian retreat in Staten Island. The brother’s there guide groups in meditation through “Guided Christian Imagery” (see Christian Meditation). After my first meditation, I was fascinated with the practice. Throughout high school, I visited Mount Manresa at least once a year with my school, Xaverian High School (a christian brothers school in Brooklyn.) I also experimented with meditation, diverging from Christian Meditation, using my own imagery, but reused the deep focused breathing I learned from Christian Meditation. I refined my techniques throughout college through reading and the internet.
Later on, after college, I also have participated in Guide Imagery meditations in private “workshops”. Throughout my adult life, I have had bouts of insomnia off and on. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, I have experience some intense insomnia over the past 6 months. Someone recommended to me to look into Yoga. At the same time I was already reading on the Internet various techniques to control insomnia. Yoga has consistantly come up at the top of searches and articles as a method to help control and eventually “cure” insomnia. So I decided to pick up a couple of Yoga Guided Meditation CDs and books on the subject as well. Yoga Nidra pretty much means, “yogic sleep” or “sleep of the yogis”, so it seemed like the perfect type of Yoga for me to study. This evening I went through the first session, and afterwards I have to say I felt very relaxed.
I’m looking forward to continuing refining my meditation techniques including Yoga Nidra over the next months and years to follow. This brings me to “the fountain of knowledge” in the title of this post. Recently my meditations have let me to an image of a stream of energy which I used as a representation of my thoughts. Since my mind races at night when I try to go to sleep with a million different thoughts, I imagined each thought as a tiny stream of light or energy, like a lightning bolt. I would focus on collecting as many of these streams of light as possible and try to focus them into a single stream, which I would then attempt to quite and control. It actually seemed to be the right imagery for me to help me fall asleep on many occasions lately. I have had problems focusing my thoughts lately during meditation which has made me frustrated. A common image used to relax one self in meditation is to go to a place where you feel at peace. This can be a field, or a childhood house, or anywhere else you feel safe, secure, and happy. I sometimes used my grandparents house in Brooklyn, where I grew up, but lately, I found that I wasn’t “at peace” when I returned there in my thoughts during meditation. I even questioned whether the house I grew up in was beneficial in my development as an intelligent person (for those who know me, I hold intelligence extremely high in importance).
Tonight after my session of Yoga I went for a walk through the community I live in. I was reflecting on my first Yoga Nidra meditation and my previous meditations I have done myself. The stream of thought energy came up and I started to analyze it. I imagined that at beginning of the stream was a fountain in the ground. The ground was my grandparents lawn and the light was come up from the earth. It was an interesting image to come to. And it reminded me how much I learned from my grandfather, and how much I learned by experimenting with chemistry sets, legos, computers, electronic kits, radios, and model rockets, all within my grandparents house and their property. I realized something that I always knew, everything I have material-wise, is due to my abilities at programming, and I first learned programming at the age of seven sitting in my bedroom at my grandparents house. My grandfather always encouraged me to learn more and to do better in school, and work hard. He always took interest in my programming and other scientific projects, even if he didn’t fully understand them. So now, finally after a couple of months of questioning and having a hard time of returning to my grandparents house in my mind as a relaxing, peace, place of reflection, I have resolved all those doubts and I can now return there in my meditations if needed.
It has been a very interesting and deep day…
Just Another Stream of Random Bits…
– Robert C. Ilardi