Try This to Get Better at Meditation

You don’t have to look far to stumble across an article about the benefits of meditation. It’s an incredible practice for helping us curate calm, manage anxiety and find a little space amidst the mayhem that sometimes seems like it’s coming at us from all directions.

Meditation is deceptively easy. All we have do is focus on the present moment, which many people do by focusing on their breath as they start out. The other half of the equation is working on being equanimous – not judging – whatever it is that we find during our practice.

If you’ve ever tried to meditate, you have probably experienced how wild our untrained (and even trained) minds can be. When we first sit down to meditate, our minds can seem to instantly jump from thought to thought to thought, and this can be exasperating. There goes the whole part about not judging our experience.

With regular practice, we do start to develop the ability to create a little space between the thoughts. Once we create the space to watch our endless thoughts and emotions as a witness rather than letting them run the whole mental show, we have a toehold on the practice, and it gets a little easier. This takes time, however, and many new meditators give up early, thinking they are “no good at meditation.”

Superpower your practice 

Enter yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is a guided meditation practice, which means that you have something concrete to focus on during the experience. Yoga nidra is practiced lying down and is deeply restorative. It’s often called “the yoga of sleep,” but we aim to stay aware while our bodies rest.

When we stay aware during nidra practice, even if it’s just for part of the practice at first, our minds start to develop an understanding of how it feels to be in the calmer brainwave states we experience in traditional breath awareness meditation.

Think of it like being on a baseball team. During practice, the players work on batting, catching, and all the skills needed for the big game, then bring it all together on game day. In just the same way, practicing yoga nidra can help you train your brain to understand the calmer states we’re aiming for in traditional meditation. 

Interestingly enough, some of the elements of yoga nidra even echo some more “advanced” meditation practices found in vipassana meditation. In that practice, which you can try for free in ten day courses offered worldwide, students begin with breath awareness and then progress to observing sensation in our bodies. Yoga nidra practice features a body scan, which can provide an excellent foundation for progressing with self-guided vipassana meditation as your practice deepens.

You might find that yoga nidra is an ideal meditation practice for you, or you might end up using it as a stepping stone to a more traditional practice, or maybe you end up sticking with both. Despite what some meditation schools might imply, the best practice is the one that works best for you. In time, that may change, but any practice that helps you feel better is one worth working on.

If you’d like to see how nidra can complement or kick start a traditional meditation practice, tune in with us for free on YouTube. If you want to be in the loop when new practices are added, sign up for our newsletter and we’ll be happy to share the love.

 

 

 

 

Shannon McPhee