By Stephanie Lopez
This blog was originally published in the Accessible Yoga Conference newsletter in 2016.
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 one’s self 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.
iRest is a modern adaptation of the ancient practice of yoga nidra and was developed by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist and researcher, as well as yogic scholar and author. iRest comprises a full path of meditation with 3 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 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 truth of who we are.
Stephanie Lopez is leading iRest Yoga Nidra Level 1 Training at Yoga on High April 19 -- 23. Learn more about this training here.
Stephanie Lopez, LISW-S, is Director of Operations for the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI), Senior iRest® Trainer and IRI Retreat Leader. Stephanie’s teachings are informed by over two decades of immersion in the non-dual teachings of yoga as well as her integration of western psychology and the wisdom traditions of eastern spirituality. As a clinical social worker Stephanie weaves self-inquiry and iRest meditation into her clinical practice. Teaching for nearly 15 years, Stephanie’s compassionate presence, depth of knowledge, and ease of being create a welcoming space for insightful learning. She leads workshops, retreats, and trainings in the U.S. and internationally. Stephanie finds joy in her marriage with her husband, Francisco, and their two cats, Juniper & Luna. She is also an avid traveler and hiker.