Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra merupakan salah satu bentuk latihan Berkesadaran yang dapat dilakukan sebagai latihan tersendiri, maupun latihan yang menemani Duduk Diam.

Gambar oleh Corina Ranier dari Unsplash

Kalau mendengar kata Yoga, sebagian dari kita mungkin langsung teringat tentang berbagai postur melipat-lipat tubuh. Kata Yoga sebetulnya berarti union atau penyatuan. Sementara kata Nidra berarti tidur. Jadi Yoga Nidra adalah  seni tidur yang Sadar. Secara tradisional, Yoga Nidra juga dikenal sebagai tidurnya para yogi.

Secara sederhana, cara berlatih Yoga Nidra adalah berupaya menjaga kesadaran tepat di antara tidur dan bangun. Kita berlatih  agar batin kita serileks ketika tidur, tetapi tetap terjaga sehingga dapat mendengarkan panduan. Seringkali yang terjadi ketika kita berlatih Yoga Nidra adalah kita tertidur, lalu terbangun, lalu tertidur, lalu terbangun – atau tertidur dari awal hingga akhir. 

Terkadang dalam latihan Yoga Nidra, kita tertidur dari awal hingga akhir. Ini tidak mengapa,  karena bawah sadar kita tetap mendengarkan sehingga kita tetap sudah berlatih. 

Sebenarnya, pola-pola ini mirip dengan kehidupan kita ketika berlatih Sadar. Terkadang kita tersadar, lalu tak sadar, lalu sadar bahwa kita tak sadar, dan kembali sadar, demikian seterusnya. Atau terkadang sesuatu yang kita alami, walaupun kita tidak aktif mendengarkan melalui telinga, masuk ke dalam alam bawah sadar kita melalui keberadaan kita. 

Yoga Nidra merupakan salah satu latihan dalam Berkesadaran karena latihan ini melatih  kondisi batin yang paling rileks dalam keadaan terjaga. Batin yang rileks, bukan batin yang malas, adalah batin yang lapang sehingga tidak reaktif, cenderung tenang sehingga lebih jernih merespon, karena senantiasa terjaga. Dalam kondisi ini, emosi yang cenderung mengganggu seperti marah, kesal dan cemas tetap hadir, namun tidak akan menyelimuti dan membutakan sikap kita. 

Beberapa penelitian menemukan bahwa Yoga Nidra yang rutin dilakukan juga membantu memperbaiki kualitas tidur, mengurangi dampak stres dan trauma, serta memberikan beberapa manfaat kesehatan lainnya. Penelitian juga menemukan bahwa kualitas istirahat otak selama 30 menit dalam relaksasi Yoga Nidra, sama dengan istirahat yang didapat dalam 2 jam tidur lelap (deep sleep). 

Tentunya ini semua adalah efek turunan saja, dan bukan tujuan utama Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra, Yoga dan seluruh latihan Berkesadaran, memiliki tujuan yang sama dengan aktivitasnya. Jadi tujuan beryoga adalah beryoga, tujuan berYoga-Nidra adalah Yoga Nidra, tujuan Berkesadaran adalah Berkesadaran. Kita Berkesadaran bukan untuk bertransaksi.

Yoga Nidra dapat dilatih kapan pun dirasa perlu untuk rileks, atau digunakan sebelum kita berlatih Duduk Diam. 

Berbeda dengan pola-pola Berkesadaran lainnya, Yoga Nidra memerlukan narasi yang perlu dilakukan oleh orang lain. Siniar (podcast) Panduan Berkesadaran adalah salah satu opsinya. 

Dan sebagaimana Duduk Diam, Yoga Nidra, Yoga sebagai bagian dari Berkesadaran adalah latihan, bukan konsep. Selamat berlatih.

Tentang Duduk Diam

Duduk Diam merupakan salah satu latihan dasar dari Berkesadaran.

Duduk Diam, sebagaimana namanya, adalah latihan untuk diam tidak melakukan apapun, tidak menanggapi apapun dan tidak menghibur diri dengan distraksi. Dilakukannya, tentunya, dalam posisi duduk. Membosankan? Mungkin, tapi bosan juga adalah rasa yang perlu kita alami, sebagaimana rasa-rasa yang lain, melalui Berkesadaran.

Gambar oleh Aziz Acharki dari Unsplash

Jika batin kita dianalogikan sebagai wadah berisi air, maka seluruh kegiatan dan proses berpikir kita adalah proses menabur berbagai macam objek ke dalam wadah tersebut – debu, kerikil, butiran warna-warni, lumpur dan lain sebagainya. Untuk menjernihkan air (yang menganalogikan batin), kita perlu mendiamkan wadahnya, agar seluruh objek tadi perlahan mengendap. Sebaliknya, jika wadah terus bergerak dan air terus diaduk sambil menerima berbagai objek, airnya tidak bisa jernih. Itulah sebabnya, kita perlu Duduk Diam – mendiamkan batin menunggu berbagai obyek yang muncul mengendap dari permukaan, sehingga kejernihan dapat muncul. 

Kita memang perlu berdiam, menyadari dan menunggu agar respon dan ekspresi yang kita lakukan lahir dari ketenangan, lahir dari kejernihan. Duduk Diam menjadi perlu, karena inilah dasar seluruh latihan Berkesadaran kita – untuk mengamati dan mengalami keberadaan kita, jernih seapa-adanya. 

Kita melakukannya dalam posisi duduk, karena inilah posisi yang paling stabil. Dibandingkan dengan berdiri, posisi ini tidak melelahkan, dan dibandingkan dengan tidur, posisi ini tidak melenakan. Posisi duduk dalam diam ini juga membuat kita peka akan keberadaan yang dihadirkan kepada kita – yang untuk mudahnya kita sebut sebagai nafas, tubuh, perasaan, dan pikiran. Dalam kondisi Duduk Diam, kita berkesempatan untuk menyadari, menerima, mengenali obyek-obyek yang hadir ke keberadaan kita, yang mengkondisikan kita, yang bisa mewarnai kondisi batin kita. Kita kian peka, kian mengenal tatanan keberadaan (internal landscape) ini. 

Pola-pola Berkesadaran, termasuk Duduk Diam, tidak pernah memastikan hasil. Karenanya kita berlatih Duduk Diam, untuk berlatih Duduk Diam, bukan untuk meningkatkan kemampuan kita berdiam, karena hasil, tak pernah milik kita. Kita juga berlatih untuk tidak bertransaksi dengan apapun yang kita upayakan. Kebahagiaan, ketenangan, ketidakbahagiaan, dan ketidak-tenangan, maupun rasa-rasa yang lain yang muncul ketika Duduk Diam adalah pengalaman, bukan tujuan, dari Duduk Diam.

Berkesadaran dalam Duduk Diam tidak pula memastikan Sadar, namun berlatih menyadari sehingga biasanya – tanpa mengharuskan – menghadirkan kepekaan, keterjalinan, dan kearifan. Kian kita berlatih, kita juga lebih mudah menyadari ketidak-sadaran kita – melakukan atau mengucapkan sesuatu yang sebenarnya tidak perlu kita ekspresikan. Berkesadaran akan membuat kita mudah menyadari ketidaksadaran itu. 

Berkesadaran dalam Duduk Diam membuat kita jadi lebih terbuka akan pandangan dan persepsi yang bukan karena pengalaman yang lalu, ataupun harapan yang akan datang, karena dalam Duduk Diam, kita senantiasa mengalami pengalaman kebaruan tersebut Tidak ada pengalaman yang persis sama di setiap Duduk Diam. 

Berkesadaran dalam Duduk Diam juga melatih kita, pada waktunya, untuk berjeda sehingga tidak terburu-buru menanggapi apapun yang datang dan pergi, karena tidak semuanya perlu ditanggapi.

Duduk Diam di waktu yang sama, di tempat yang sama, di durasi yang sama, di setiap harinya, akan membantu dalam mengasah proses mengamati dan mengalami. Setelahnya, kita dapat tetap melakukan di setiap harinya, dengan, tempat, waktu dan durasi yang diperlukan. 

Akhirnya, ini bukanlah konsep untuk dipahami, namun sikap yang perlu dialami. Gunakan siniar (podcast) Panduan Berkesadaran sebagai salah satu opsi untuk memandu kita berlatih.

Meditation, A Journey Home

“Depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 350 million people affected.” ~ World Health Organization Fact Sheet, April 2016

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Picture by francinjapan at Pixabay

Over the years, studies have been conducted over benefits of meditation and how it works. Most often cited benefits are related to the areas of stress management, self control and concentration. There is an article in Forbes by Alice Walton (2015), which neatly summarized various distinct researches on how meditation affects our brain. There listed a few interesting conclusions from the studies. Meditation was said to help preserve the aging brain, has effects rival antidepressants for depression, decrease volume of brain cells known to be responsible for fear, anxiety and stress, can help with addiction, and it helps kids in school.

These well meaning publications benefit many by raising their awareness and interests in the practice. But as wisely concluded in the article, meditation is not panacea.

This is an important statement for two main reasons.

One of the reasons being, meditation is a long journey. It is not something that we practice overnight and then it washes all our stresses away. In the world where people expect everything to be straight forward and instant, this can be disappointing. Then, all the appealing benefits are not the utmost outcome of meditation. While it is a simple practice, how it works is never that straight forward.

It is perhaps acceptable to assume that most people relate the word meditate to an image of someone sitting crossed legged with eyes closed in deep concentration. This image is often used to represent peace and calm. So much so that recently I was informed of a newly open premium resort and spa with cozy meditation room as part of the facility. There was a person sitting crossed legged depicted in their communication materials. In other words, peace and calm equals meditation equals sitting cross legged.

Meanwhile, the same practice has also been introduced into corporations as an aid to perform your duties more efficiently with less stress, perhaps your key to success. Busy and ambitious corporate world, peace and relaxing calm of resort and spa, seemingly rather on one end to another of a spectrum, both claim to practice and benefit from meditation. Can it be so? Yes, perhaps. Maybe not.

The thing is, meditation has become a word very loosely applied everywhere. The meditation practice a hermit does in the Himalayan mountains can be very much different from the short session offered in a cozy set up with soft comfortable cushion, soothing smell of incense and calming music in the background. The well intended spirit of bringing the practice into daily life, or the so-called “off the cushion” practice, has turned almost literally everything into meditation. While it truly is, and we shall talk a bit more on this some other time, the idea can be a little confusing.

So what IS meditation? One of the most amusing questions that not only a few people ask when I told them I just returned from one week meditation retreat (or that I practice Yoga) is – “SO, you can levitate?” What and how exactly I was expected to respond is still a mystery to me. Maybe I should seriously confirm so and see what happens.

“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” ~ Rumi

This is how I would define meditation, regardless of the actual actions that are referred to as meditation; the art of listening to ourselves, to the incessant chatter in our heads, drowning waves of emotions and somewhere some time, the peaceful silence within. Being able to listen to ourselves is a useful skill, from which we would understand what is happening within this existence we casually refer to as ourselves.

“Meditation is putting aside altogether everything that man has conceived of himself and the world.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

In listening to myself, I discovered that everything I see, I see it through frames. These frames were planted in our minds through our ability to perceive and remember. All our previous experiences, habits and norms imposed on us, all these forms solid frames. Trouble is, more often than not, the lenses were either distorted or unclean so we do not see things the way they are. And that includes the way we see others and ourselves. How often do we take ourselves as the wrecked person inside our heads, which we relentlessly try to get rid of? Are we really all that noise in our heads? Or are we really the exterior that we see, nurture and entertain all the time? What about the idea that we are neither?

“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” ~ Bell Hooks

Habits are usually acted upon without us being aware that we are doing it. It becomes natural and it has become natural for us to distract ourselves all the time. Our gadgets and other electronic devices certainly play a big part in this habit. What happen when we disconnect ourselves from everything and everyone to simply be with ourselves? We start listening to the voices within and learn to be in peace with it. This is the first step in alleviating ourselves from the subtle constant unease of wanting to be anywhere but here, to be with anyone else but oneself. We learn to be content and cease looking outwards to escape from our very selves, from whatever is at any given moment.

There is a saying that I really like:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ~ old Zen saying

Seriously, 20 minutes? Surely, in the beginning it can be very challenging to this mind to sit still with something as boring as breaths. A widely used term to describe this restless nature of mind is ‘monkey mind’, indicating how the mind incessantly jumps from one thing to another, all the time. An old friend of mine prefers to see it as puppies instead of monkey. With no particular reasons, I am with him. It is easier to see the mind as restless puppies (than monkey), which just need a bit of watching until they get tired and then decide to rest.

That is exactly why the Zen saying proposed an hour if we are too busy. The busier we are, the more excited the mind become, the more restless the puppies are. It would take longer for the mind to finally give it a rest and begin to settle into the moment. As the mind settles, perhaps, we would stumble into something grander than the mundane, something unknown to this busy limited mind. Otherwise, it is a beautiful practice nonetheless.

A pleasant walk, a journey home….

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away
We sit together, the mountain and I,
Until only the mountain remains.

~ Li Po

Yoga Class, my Asylum

In the early days of my yoga asana (pose) practice, I shifted from someone who never work out to a gym regular. Attending one to two classes every other day, it felt like I just could not have enough of them.

Despite this Yoga enthusiasm, somehow I did not practice at home.

Not at all.

Back then, I could have said that it was because I was still such a beginner that I did not know how to do it without instructions, and I thought that was the reason. But later I reckoned that I was actually in love with “yoga classes”, and not only “yoga” per se because amusingly, simply being in the class suffices for joy and excitement. So I figured there must be something about these classes that turns something on. But what is it?

Some people, if not most, go through their days with companies. I suppose that is why humans are recognised as social beings. So they have to have someone accompanying them when they go for lunch, movies, shopping, and – going to Yoga classes, especially if you are new to the practice, or to the community. Guess what, I am exactly not that kind of person, which does not mean I do not enjoy company. There are just things that I can do just fine, if not better, without company. Attending yoga classes is one of them.

When I first started attending the classes, by myself, I did not know anyone in the class, I did not know the teacher, and so I relaxed into being myself. That felt really good.
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Photo by Melissa Mai at Pixbay

This reminds me of a story by Kahlil Gibran about a young man in an insane asylum that stands out from other inmates because he behaves normally. When asked why he was in the asylum, he spoke of how his father wanted him to be a brilliant lawyer like himself, his uncle hoped he would follow him by owning a large emporium, his mother wanted him to be like her beloved father, his sister set her husband before him as an example of the successful man, his brother tried to train him up to be a fine athlete like himself. The young man decided to enter the asylum because there at least, he can be himself.

I do not think this story only talks about family’s expectation. Rather, it is about man’s expectation towards one another, the way we human expect from one another of things we think is right, pleasant and good. Gibran said it in profound truth, “None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.” I am grateful to find that I only had to go to yoga class to be myself instead of an insane asylum.

So there I was, enjoying myself with every pose that I was supposed to do, utterly carefree of what other people are doing nor did I care whether they care how I performed the poses. I was a beginner, and it is good to be stupid and carefree about it.

This was until people who regularly attend the classes started noticing me as another regular and teachers began spotting my presence too. That marked the end of my invisibility that has made the sessions so enjoyable. While it is enjoyable knowing these people and making friends with some of them, I sometimes miss this anonymity. It is not that now I care how others are doing in the class nor do I care whether they care how I am doing, being invisible just feels good in a different way. Being comfortable with looking silly is very peaceful.

I wish it was as easy to turn any place into an Asylum. And so it is our every day practice to make that happen. When we find Asylum anywhere we are, there is peace and joy everywhere.