iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation: A Living Practice of Connection and Belonging

In the course of daily life, how often do we feel unseen, disconnected, and disempowered? For many, this is an all-too-frequent experience.

People practice yoga and meditation to discover a sense of ease, balance, and purpose. I believe there is a deeper motivation as well: a longing for connection with oneself and rest of the world. I’ve found this yearning is satisfied through iRest Yoga Nidra. This transformative yet simple practice uncovers an undeniable ground of well-being and interconnectedness. It brings forth a direct sense of wholeness that is unchanging regardless of life’s circumstances.

A modern adaptation of the ancient practice of yoga nidra, iRest was developed by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist and researcher, as well as a yogic scholar and author. It comprises a full path of meditation with three core principles: the practice of welcoming, seeing everything as a messenger, and an essential wholeness or ground of being. These principles are woven through the 10 steps of the protocol, forming a potent and healing meditation practice.

As we learn iRest, we begin by welcoming everything just as it is. To practice welcoming is to abide in nonjudgmental presence and simply allow whatever arises in our mind. We learn that welcoming is not an extra something we do. Rather, it is an essential aspect of being human.

In contrast, struggle is accompanied by tension, contraction, anger, and fear. At its heart is the desire to have things other than what they are. You push away what you don’t want and cling to what you desire. There is no denying this pain and struggle, but iRest meditation teaches us to meet these experiences without trying to fix or change them. Imagine the fierce grace of meeting pain as pure physical sensation and gently accepting the emotions and beliefs it engenders. Yet, simply feeling into and allowing pain to emerge can bring a shift in its intensity.

What happens when we let go of the struggle with life? What happens when we simply allow its challenges, heartbreak, and beauty? In my experience, there is a release of tension, an opening to freedom, and a joy in full presence of all movements of life. At the heart of this welcoming is an ease of being untouched by life’s movements. This is an underlying wholeness that cannot be broken.

In the practice of iRest, we meet life fully through this combination of welcoming and ease of being. We navigate difficult emotions, beliefs, and memories with an inner resource to rely upon when they become overwhelming. We also come into new insight when our sensations, emotions, and beliefs are seen as messengers. Experiencing them fully develops and deepens a connection with the self. We come into loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves. You’re able to hear your voice and what is being asked for on the deepest levels. It is in this state of iRest meditation that habitual patterns are broken and you develop clear and novel responses to life’s challenges.

Through this compassionate welcoming, you develop connection with all parts of yourself and begin to live authentically. There is trust in who you are and what you do, and this belonging with yourself flows into a connection with others. As you live life fully and with an undefended heart, you develop a sense of belonging in the world. This intimacy with yourself and others empowers you to live life to its fullest potential.

At the heart of every person is an ease of being and wholeness that has never been broken. I cherish this practice and its simple ability to shine the healing light of the truth of who we are.

Find out about iRest yoga nidra trainings with Stephanie Lopez at Kripalu.

Stephanie Lopez, LISW-S, C-IAYT, is a senior iRest® trainer and director of operations for the iRest Institute.

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