Yoga Nidra, what does it mean to be ‘wide awake in deep sleep’?

by Mandy Penalver

I immediately fell in love with Yoga Nidra when I first encountered it over 14 years ago and I knew straight away that it was something I wanted to study in depth and share with others. Yoga Nidra is commonly described as ‘conscious deep sleep’, and I have always had a deep desire to know what this truly means, and to experience it directly myself. As my personal Yoga journey has unfolded, so too has my understanding and method of teaching this deeply restorative and highly therapeutic practice.

What does it mean to be ‘wide awake in deep sleep’? We have been taught to believe and therefore feel that deep sleep is a ‘state’ that we enter and which lasts for a period of time. However, deep sleep as it is referred to in Yoga Nidra is the eternal, ever-present, time-less, dimension-less NOW, that is always wide awake, knowing-being only itself. Deep sleep IS. It is what you ARE, not something that you do. It is not a state, and cannot be defined in words or objectified in any way. It cannot be ‘known’ by the mind, which is neither conscious itself nor present in deep sleep. All states of the mind, body and world seemingly appear within deep sleep. The illusion of a separate entity, navigating a pre-existing world and entering different states of waking, dreaming and sleeping for a duration of time is itself an intermittent concept seeming to appear within deep sleep. When this illusion is both seen and felt to be such, deep sleep is recognised as the immanent source and substance of all apparent appearances and states of the mind, body and world. Yoga Nidra, being wide awake in deep sleep, is to BE, knowingly, that aware presence which you truly always and only are. Deep sleep, knowing presence, receives everything in itself, as itself, without an iota of resistance. This is peace itself: SAT, CHIT, ANANDA. That’s why we love deep sleep!

Read more of Mandy’s blogs on her website here.

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