Exercises- Waking Sleep (Nidra)

This exercise has different components. As we go through it, you will rotate and direct your awareness to your body, breath, and mind. If at any point, the exercise does not feel useful to you, feel free to simply focus inward. Focus your attention on your breath, or wherever feels most helpful.

The goal of this exercise is not to fall asleep, but if you do, don’t worry. Let your body experience the exercise in whatever way it needs.

 

Let’s start. 

  • First, find a comfortable place to sit or lay down and gather any supports you may need to feel comfortable (e.g. place your jacket under your head for support or over you for warmth)

Notice the places where your body is touching your supports (mat beneath you, the chair, etc.).

Feel the weight of your body and notice the place where your head connects to the mat or support you have underneath your head.

  • Notice the sounds you hear around you.

Focus your attention outside this space and notice the sounds (note to facilitator: you might name 1 sound and then say or noticing any other noises that may be present) (pause)

Draw your attention inside these four walls.

Notice the sounds inside this room (note to facilitator: you might name 1-2 sounds and then say or noticing any other noises that may be present) (pause);

  • Draw your attention towards your inner nostrils. Notice the sensation of breath as it gently swirls in and down into your lungs.

Feel the expansion of the lungs and rib cage. And as you exhale, notice the slight contraction of the lungs and rib cage. Notice the sensations on your upper lip as the breath comes out of the nostrils and brushes across your lip.

  • If it feels interesting to explore, you can begin to rotate your awareness to different parts of the body.

If any point in time this doesn’t feel useful to you, simply let go of the instructions and focus on your breath.

Bring your awareness to the back of the head (pause); your forehead (pause); your nose (pause); your right cheek (pause); left cheek (pause); chin (pause); right ear (pause); left ear (pause); whole face (pause); whole head (pause);  right shoulder (pause); right elbow (pause); right wrist (pause); right thumb (pause); right second finger (pause); right third finger (pause); right fourth finger (pause); baby finger (pause); palm of hand (pause); top of hand (pause); entire hand (pause); entire arm front and back (pause);

Left shoulder (pause); left elbow (pause); left wrist (pause); left thumb (pause); left second finger (pause); left third finger (pause); left fourth finger (pause); baby finger (pause); palm of hand (pause); top of hand (pause); entire hand (pause); entire arm front and back (pause);

Right shoulder blade (pause); left shoulder blade (pause); the space between the shoulder blades (pause); low back right side (pause); low back left side (pause);

Right hip bone (pause); right knee (pause); right ankle (pause); right sole of the foot (pause); right big toe (pause); second toe (pause); third toe (pause); fourth toe (pause); baby toe (pause); top of the right foot (pause); entire foot (pause); entire right leg front and back (pause);

Left hip bone (pause); left knee (pause); left ankle (pause); left sole of the foot (pause); left big toe (pause); second toe (pause); third toe (pause); fourth toe (pause); baby toe (pause); top of the left foot (pause); entire foot (pause); entire left leg front and back (pause);

Lower torso (pause); middle torso (pause); upper torso (pause); forehead (pause); space between the eyebrows (pause); nose (pause); right cheek bone (pause); left cheek bone (pause); chin (pause);

Entire front body; entire back body.

  • Now, I’ll invite you to work with your breath at specific parts of the body. Bring your attention to the area I say, and count backwards. If any point in time this doesn’t feel useful to you, simply let go of the instructions and focus on your breath.

If comfortable, bring your attention towards your navel. Notice if there are any sensations. Maybe you do not notice anything at all.

  • Now you will take twenty breaths. Breathe in, and on each exhale, begin to count backwards from 20 to zero. One number on each exhale. If you lose your count, don’t worry, you can just start over again at 20. If you reach zero before I speak then you can just focus on your breath (as facilitator after 15 breaths, you speak again).
  • If comfortable, bring your attention towards your heart. Notice if there are any sensations or warmth. It is okay if you do not notice anything at all.

Now you will take twenty breaths. Breathe in, and on each exhale, begin to count backwards from 20 to zero. One number on each exhale. If you lose your count, don’t worry, you can just start over again at 20. If you reach zero before I speak then you can just focus on your breath (as facilitator after 15 breaths, you speak again).

  • Now I will say a few images.

As we go through these images, you don’t need to do anything at all. Just let the words come and go. If, at any point this doesn’t feel useful, simply focus on your breath.

  •   The feeling of sunshine on your face. (Pause, then repeat) The feeling of sunshine on your face.
  •   The taste of ______ (this can be a specific food common to your locale) 
  •   The smell of a fresh orange / tangerine (or substitute for something else common to your locale)  
  •   The texture of water as your fingers touch it.  
  •   The color of the blue sky on a clear day.
  • When ready, draw your attention back to this moment.

Notice where your body touches the supports beneath you. If comfortable for you, try a deeper inhale and exhale, remembering where you are at this moment. If you are laying down, come to a sitting position again.

  • Bring your palms together. Start to rub them together, generating some heat.

Count to three, and place your hands anywhere on your body that feels comfortable.

Notice the feeling of energy or heat that comes into the body from your hands. Notice your body, your breath, and your feelings. Notice any changes you might observe as a result of this exercise. 

 

Conclusion

 

This exercise has ended. Whenever you are feeling stressed, tired, anxious, or having difficulty sleeping you can recall this simple exercise to promote parasympathetic nervous system functioning and deep relaxation.