For many years I struggled with anxiety, which greatly affected my ability to achieve peaceful and satisfying sleep. Through a significant amount of personal work, I recognized this to be the result of a substantial amount of personal loss and an overwhelming case of angst.
Fear, which affected my life and my relationships, manifested as an obsession with past, present and future worries (real and imagined), on a continuous, repetitive loop. And of course, these repetitious “movies” play out at the worst possible time – at night, when all I want and need is a good night’s sleep!
Cultivating a regular yoga posture and breathing practice has helped me to become mindful, grounded, and less judgmental, as well as physically stronger. However, the skill that has helped me the most with anxiety, has been learning the sweet art of self-compassion.
I had been so busy criticizing and blaming myself that I failed to see how I had internalized myself as the enemy. I actually had to learn to be-friend and love myself again in order to make a change. Interestingly, while I embarked on this new journey of mindfulness and yoga, I was presented once again with a massive blow… an unexpected and excruciatingly painful loss.
Yet, this was also an opportunity to respond differently than I had in the past and with my new skills! I had a choice. This felt good! I felt empowered. I could allow the event to bring me down and I could continue to sabotage myself OR I could love and support myself through a difficult time with hope, trust, and compassion.
With a disciplined commitment to my yoga practice and my new compassionate approach toward myself, I was rewarded with life altering gifts! It really worked! Within a short period of time, I was in a new and healthy relationship, offered a new job, and even enrolled myself in a yoga teacher training program! Although my anxiety and sleep issues weren’t completely resolved, they were greatly minimized.
I entered into the teacher training program at Flowyoga studio in Port Perry Ontario, Canada, under the direction of my amazing teacher Maria Carr. The training got me fired up about my life, my yoga practice, and my desire to teach.
It was during this training that I was introduced to Jennifer Reis’s Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra. I loved the practice so much, I began to practice the track at home before bed on a regular basis, especially if I was feeling anxious. I was shocked to find that most nights I could stay focused and fall asleep peacefully!
I began to realize the crucial element of this practice that was so helpful to me — the concept of self-healing. Now that I was able to be more compassionate with myself, I was able to begin to understand that the tools within me to heal myself were within ME! What a gift this practice has been to me.
What followed was a wonderfully busy, eventful and fruitful year. As I completed my yoga teacher training, began teaching yoga for clients with mental health issues, I also became pregnant! This was exciting, planned and I was prepared for it, yet my pregnancy and raising a child was yet another great opportunity to work through anxiety and sleep issues.
Like any first time parent, I had worries, but I practiced Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra regularly and was so happy with the effect it had on me, that I downloaded to the playlist I created for the birthing process! Yoga nidra helped me to stay grounded and to trust my body would do what it needed to do to give birth, and to be okay with whatever outcome occurred.
All went well and my wife and I brought home our beautiful, healthy baby boy this past spring! I found out about Jennifer’s Martha’s Vineyard retreat. I’m not sure what convinced my wife that this was a good idea. We were feeling a bit strapped financially, plus we had no idea how our six-month old would do travelling 15 hours by car!
It might have been her hobby that won the vote: she carefully researched and found numerous small craft breweries along our route! Joking aside, I’m more certain that it was actually about the changes she had observed in me: from being an anxious and sleepless worrier — to someone who was grounded and at peace within herself, as well as sleeping much better than ever before.
The Martha’s Vineyard retreat was wonderfully inspiring! It was so amazing to experience a variety of Divine Sleep journeys, live from the creator herself! I also really enjoyed learning mudras, positive affirmations and Five Element Yoga.
Now I refer friends, family, yoga students and clients to Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra all the time. Although my experience has centered around anxiety and sleep, I now believe that we can all benefit greatly from learning and practicing the art of self-compassion and self-healing. This is the gift of the practice to me.