The Gift of Sleep and Friendship

Devjyoti, Delhi

My mother-in-law has been suffering from lack of sleep for some time. This has been exacerbated after my father-in-law passed away this year. My relationship with her was not the most cordial. I have had to practise pratipaksha bhavana to bring myself around to a relationship where I can manage a peaceful conversation with her over the years. She had complained about sleeplessness to me long back and about her discomfort with sleeping pills.

Given my own sleepy experience with yoga nidra, I advised her to listen to the instructions in yoga nidra on youtube before going to sleep. She ignored my advice for a long time, and informed me that she was trying out vipassana and other techniques to calm down before sleep. Yesterday, she called me in a most thankful tone, informing me that for the past few days she had been off sleeping pills. And the trick has been to listen to yoga nidra instructions before going to sleep. She has fallen asleep with no trouble (much like I would do) and is really happy that this seems to be working for her more than any other method that she has tried.

From my limited knowledge of yoga nidra, I am certain that sleeping off is not the goal intended for the practice. However, for my mother-in-law, it provides the much needed relaxation so that she can sleep without medication. And it is also the beginning of a friendship between two very different people placed in a relationship that is traditionally not seen to be most congenial. She has started speaking with me not like a daughter-in-law after many moons and I sense a warmth that I cherish very much.

I wrote about this incident to bring to your notice that yoga nidra is indeed a powerful practice: ensuring pratyahara sadhana for the yogi, relaxation for some time for inept practitioners like us, and peaceful sleep for many. It offers something beneficial for everyone either in entirety as yoga nidra or at least in part as the nidra bit. While the teacher might feel disheartened by the progress of the practitioner, sleep and friendship are some of the positive externalities which should be accounted for as unintended benefits.

Swamiji, thank you for your major contribution in our lives, as the gifts of sleep and friendship are of immense value to me now. Apart from the other gifts that your guru and you have given to many, please count this small incident as yet another prasad from yoga coming from you.