A few years ago I spent time at a Buddhist center in Florida. One of the teachers there introduced me to a way for reaching deep states of stillness. It's known as Yoga Nidra. I'd like to share the meditative aspect of it with you in the event you find it helpful for reaching deep stillness as you meditate on the Course lessons.
The teacher was a cool guy who went by the nickname “CK.” While the principal guru, Amrit Desai, "Gurudev," dressed in white, as did most of his followers, CK (short for Chandrakant) dressed in black. I don't know why, but of course it doesn't matter.
Here's what he taught me that has helped me reach deep levels of meditation, which in turn helps me better KNOW the lessons of the Course.
This is about a breathing technique. After you've found a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, do this:
- Take a breath in through your nose. When your lungs are comfortably full, hold that breath for a count of three to five seconds. Don't hold it so long it becomes uncomfortable. Just hold it until you're moved to release it. You don't really need to “count” three to five seconds. You might use your heartbeats to count…or you might simply let the pause happen on its own. Simply let your inhale hold itself for a moment.
- As you release that breath, let it go through pursed lips. Imagine you are exhaling through a straw that restricts your out-flowing breath just a bit. A straw, or your pursed lips, restrict the speed of your exhale. Let it out slowly, through your lips. Maybe it takes ten or twelve seconds to exhale.
- Then, at the end of that exhale, simply relax before beginning the next inhale. Relax for a count of three to five, and don't inhale again during that count. Relax after you've exhaled in a way that feels comfortable. Again, there's no need to count. Relax into allowing yourself to sit at the “bottom” of your breath once the air is expelled from your lungs. No hurry. No pressure. Just be with the stillness of sitting without breathing for a moment.
- You'll find that your body is perfectly oxygenated. The little pauses at the top and bottom of each breath won't leave you feeling short of breath. Practice this technique of breathing in and out with a pause at the top and bottom of each breath for a few cycles. Let it happen.
- As you repeat this process, you may notice the pause at the end of the inhale, and especially the pause when you've finished exhaling, brings you to a state of stillness. A state of “no mind.” A quietness. Those three to five second pauses create a “space” where the mind rests without chattering.
- Just relax and notice the stillness at the top and bottom of breathing. Notice how the chatter stops. You won't need to think about it. You'll simply experience a stillness, a quietness of mind.
As you continue this breathing technique you may find the “no mind” state begins to expand. Just let it happen as it will.
I don't know why this works; why I find myself in stillness at the top of each inhale and the bottom of each exhale. I haven't tried to figure it out. It works. That's all I need to know.
This breathing practice brings me to the state of mind Lesson 189, paragraph 7, asks us to find. Or, as Kathryn, our Monday night ACIM study group leader said, it's the state of a newborn who knows not who he or she is; knows nothing. Is open. A blank slate.
It's a perfect place to let the Voice for God and God Himself enter.
I hope you find this helpful.
Peace and Love, my friends.