author of Yoga for Depression and Founder of LifeForce Yoga
This is not an unbiased review. This six-CD set by the psychologist, yogi, and contemporary spiritual teacher Richard Miller reminds me of why I asked him to be my mentor several years ago, and why I continue to study with him, attend retreats, and agreed to be a steward for the organization that supports his work, the Integrative Restoration Institute. Richard actually recorded this talk and the five accompanying Yoga Nidra (yogic meditation) as tapes several years before developing the specific protocol being used to successfully treat soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But all the elements of the practices that he has adapted in a contemporary protocol of Yoga Nidra called iRest are here, and they are supremely suited to the challenges of modern life. Unlike simple relaxation techniques, in iRest, Richard does not guide us to relax. Deep and profound relaxation occurs, however, in the process of bringing the mind to attend to the body and the breath.
On the first disk, Richard lays out the philosophical foundation of Yoga Nidra, and the progressive steps of the practice. The five practices that follow advance from body sensing and breath awareness, on the second disk, through an awareness of the opposites of emotions and beliefs, all the way to an awareness of pure being, what Richard describes as true nature. One of my favorite portions of his guidance is the "Inner Smile" in practice four on the fifth CD in the series. Here, the smile in your heart is cultivated until it permeates all aspects of your being.
For some, conjuring the opposites of emotions, especially negative feelings, can at first feel uncomfortable. A few of my students tell me that they feel it keeps them in their thinking mind, or reminds them of what they feel isn't working in their lives. But continued practice brings with it a sense of equanimity, more profound than the simple cultivation of positive feelings. When we are allowing the perception of negative mind states, emotions and beliefs into our consciousness and then feeling them in the body, along with their opposites, we begin to neutralize those darker emotions. We become aware of how much bigger we are than a particular or stuck feeling. We step back into a global "awareness of awareness itself." (RM)
In the remastering of these original taped recordings, tracks were laid down, so that if you don't have the 44 minutes or so to commit to an entire practice, you can create a shorter practice for yourself. I highly recommend that you take the time to practice the entire protocol as often as you can. Daily practice strengthens the vessel--your body, your psyche--so that you are more resilient and calmer in the face of life's challenges. I have Richard's iRest on my iPod, and sometimes practice before I leave my bed in the morning, before I practice asana and pranayama or sit to meditate. Or sometimes I finish my morning sadhana with his guidance. I also practice on those early morning flights from Tucson to wherever I have to be in the world. I recommend this iPod-iRest practice to my students, especially those who wake up earlier than they might wish. Whenever you practice, these guided iRest Yoga Nidras are a wonderful way to bring more joy into your waking life, and to be reminded that, beneath the current mood, beneath the social mask, you are that joy.