Module 2

Understanding Self and The Problems with Identification

Welcome back! Here we go for round 2. This module builds on the last. Feel free to go at your own pace, even though a new module will be made available each week. 


Check out the Questions section at the bottom of this module. There is a lot to understand and be curious about with Yoga Nidra so please add your questions. I'll do my best to respond quickly. Chances are that others are wondering the same things. Your question might open up a great discussion.


For example, V.A. asked about the phenomena of suddenly crying during the Yoga Nidra practice without any reason, neither feeling happy nor sad, just got really teary.

During some of my most profound moments of practicing Yoga Nidra, I've had the exact same thing happen to me. Several possible causes for this:

  • You may be releasing emotions stored in your body, which you may feel during the release process. If this happens, allow yourself to be grateful for the release.

  • Perhaps your body is experiencing profound awareness and has no other way of expression other than to get teary.

  • You might be experiencing a wonderful euphoria from the experience of deep Awareness.

  • For me, when I had this experience during Yoga Nidra, I remember feeling like I was floating in a space that transcended emotion and was absolutely sublime. I found myself laughing uncontrollably then crying uncontrollably back and forth every few minutes for a few hours! Pretty outrageous but also very normal for this practice. Just enjoy the ride!

If this happens to you and if it feels safe, you may consider going back to that moment in your head and replaying the experience to see what spontaneously pops into your head, heart, and body. You might be surprised what comes up and what you discover in that moment.

Remember, everything that comes up is just a pointer to our deep sense of Awareness. In this practice we are to welcome, recognize, and witness anything and everything that arises.

Great question, V. A.

Don't forget to check out the SYTP Facebook Page. Check it out, add comments, and meet other people in your Yoga Nidra community.

Outline of Discussion Module 2

Understanding Self and The Problems with Identification

If you truly understood who you were, you'd never doubt again. When you know that you are the source of everything, there is nothing you cannot do or be because you are everything. Therefore, to Source Your True Power is to understand who you truly are. I know, deep.

What you are is AWARENESS.


English translation:

Everything on the earth and in the sky and in between, is arising from one effulgent source. If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this unity, I would be the peace I seek in this moment.

Transliteration of Sanskrit to English:

bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt

Listen to the Gayatri Mantra

Since the beginning of consciousness we've been asking ourselves, "Who am I?" The Universe seems to be in constant change so what is real and what isn't, what is constant and what isn't? Is there any part of me that is always constant and never changes?

Ego vs. Self

Echart Tolle defines Ego in his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose as a misunderstanding of what I THINK I am. Self (capitol S) is defined by that part of you that never changes, that is no matter what: Awareness.

But here's the rub . . . Awareness isn't something you see, feel, touch, etc. It's an experience. Awareness is the backdrop, the canvas upon which everything happens. Awareness is the context in which everything exists. Awareness is made manifest by everything you can see, feel, touch, etc, but isn't any of those things because they can change. Your Self never changes. This is the marriage between Awareness (or consciousness) and form, which we'll explore in depth in Module 4.

Imagine that your Awareness is like an invisible person, it's just "being;" you don't see it, it just is. It only manifests when you throw a sheet over it. You still only see the sheet but by looking at the sheet over the form of the invisible person, you get a feel for the underlying form.

The outerlying form (like the sheet in the above analogy) come in layers called maya koshas. Maya means illusion and kosha means layer. Illusion because it's an illusion to identify with any of these changeable parts of our being. The only True part of Self is that which doesn't change, Awareness.

From gross to subtle these changeable layers are:

  • Anamaya--animal/body

  • Pranamaya--energy/feeling, i.e., light vs. heavy

  • Manomaya--Mind

  • Vijnanamaya (prounounced vig-nyana-maya)--Images, dreams, beliefs

  • Anandamaya--bliss and beyond bliss

A great example of this seemingly real but constantly changing part of our being is the fact that every cell in our bodies are in a constant process of change. In fact, after a certain number of years, literally EVERY cell in your body is different than the ones you were born with. So you are a completely different person than you were when you were born. Awesome and weird! Click the button at the bottom of the page in the resources section to listen to a fascinating Radio Lab podcast that explores how people discovered how to date every cell in your body and how the discovered how many years it takes for every cell in your body to change over.

By exploring these Koshas, these changeable parts of our being, like the sheet in the above analogy, we begin to understand the underlying awareness.

There are several techniques we use in Yoga Nidra to help us experience Awareness such as toggling between two seemingly opposite things, e.g., right side, left side, right side, left . . . now both. Experiencing both you have to transcend the binary and experience the larger part of you. You default into your larger self, Awareness.

We'll talk about this more in Module 4 where we explore Duality vs Non-duality.

The poet Mary Oliver says it best in her poem from Dream Work  called Poem.

The spirit
   likes to dress up like this:
     ten fingers,
       ten toes,
shoulders, and all the rest
   at night
      in the black branches
         in the morning
in the blue branches 
    of the world.
       It could float, of course,
          but would rather
plumb rough matter.
   Airy and shapeless thing,
      it needs
         the metaphor of the body,
lime and appetite,
   the oceanic fluids;
      it needs the body’s world,
 and imagination
   and the dark hug of time
       and tangibility
to be understood,
   to be more than pure light
      that burns
         where no one is —
so it enters us —
    in the morning
       shines from brute comfort
          like a stitch of lightning;
and at night
   lights up the deep and wondrous
      drownings of the body
         like a star.
— Mary Oliver


Yoga Nidra Practice

Connect with each other! If you "do the Facebook," I encourage you to join the Facebook group to stay connected with your fellow students and to offer comments and questions, to have conversations with the group and see what others are saying.