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Detoxify the Mind with Yoga Nidra

Detoxify the Mind with Yoga Nidra

This was originally published in the Center for Wholeness’ newsletter. You can learn more about CfW and sign up for their newsletter here:

As we go through life we pick up and accumulate ideas, beliefs, and habitual ways of acting. From these, tendencies are created in our persona which affect us, whether we know it or not. These are impressions which are known as samskaras in yoga.

An analogy I like to use is a room. Without regular cleaning, rooms seem to accumulate things. Often I don’t even notice it until I start sitting things on top of other things. Once I organize, and throw out the stuff I don’t really need, I notice how constricted the room was. It always amazes me how an uncluttered room helps my mind feel less cluttered as well.

This same thing happens with our minds. We keep adding things, knowingly and unknowingly, until we feel a certain level of stress, then wonder what’s wrong.

Samskaras are imprints of past experiences left on our subconscious mind. They are the things we stack, one upon the other, in the room of our mind. We don’t notice them or their effect on how we respond to the people and situations we encounter through our days. These subconscious influences include desires, needs, expectations, or habitual ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving.

They affect how we interpret the information that comes in through our senses. They affect how we respond emotionally to the trials and tribulations, or even the accomplishments, in our lives. If we’ve been treated a certain way that affected us deeply, that past experience has a heavy influence on us when we find ourselves in a similar situation (or even a situation that only seems similar).

From this come all kinds of fear, anxiety, and other limiting beliefs and mental and emotional tensions.

Don’t Be a Garbage Collector

I guess we could also say “Don’t be a hoarder”, but I like garbage collector. So many ideas I have, so many emotional scars I carry, are pure garbage. Unfortunately many are hardwired at this point and it’s not as easy as just tossing them out, and it’s not possible, wise, or useful to just act like they’re not there. There’s work that has to be done to get rid of them.

Thoughts and ideas that we are conscious of can be questioned, and we can learn to be open to new ideas that are more true or useful. But what about those things we’re not conscious of? Underneath it all we have a large pile of past experience and accumulation of sensory inputs that are influencing our current actions and awareness.

Burning Off the Past

The whole art and science of yoga is about elevating our consciousness and freeing us from the grips of our limiting beliefs, in my opinion. Within the vastness of yoga is a practice called yoga nidra.

The practice of yoga nidra helps remove these samskaras, which block our natural self from being expressed in our lives. In the tradition of yoga nidra I’m certified in we go through stages of conscious relaxation to indirectly bring up these samskaras and release the tensions they create.

Through the practice of yoga nidra we turn our awareness inward, penetrate into the deeper levels of the mind and consciousness, and release these past impressions which restrict us. This is done through a series of steps that guide you through consciously relaxing on every level. As you relax more fully your deep tensions hidden under the surface can loosen, and fall away.

As we find ourselves no longer confined by the weight of these impressions all kinds of mental and physical issues dissolve and we will find ourselves more happy, more often. More free, and more truly who we were meant to be.

May we be open and receptive to our highest good,
Chris Pritchard

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