Before I discovered yoga nidra, I was drowning in anxiety and overwhelmed with all of the changes that have occurred in my life. As a registered nurse for over fifteen years, helping others through difficult times — often families with loved ones who were at end of life — was both rewarding and stressful. After losing both parents early in my life, I felt called to help people with end of life care.
I recognized my ability to connect with people, and also ease them through our convoluted healthcare system. My understanding of the grieving process, and ability to empathize, was a gift meant for me to give to others.
I began practicing yoga at home during my mother’s illness but then after a couple of years, my busy life took over again. I intended to incorporate yoga into my nursing care to help dying patients and their families.
Along my way, there have been many traumatic obstacles and loss to overcome in my life with family, relationships and finances. I lived on a beautiful 260 acre, busy, and successful upstate NY Christmas Tree farm. It was a fairytale home life, the place one goes during a visualization journey to find beauty and peace with a babbling brook, dairy barns, and nature and wildlife abound! Only there was no connection of intimacy in my relationship, and I felt deeply unfulfilled spiritually.
My yoga and martial arts practices offered me healing and freedom from loneliness and fear I had been feeling at the time, however, I knew that I had to make some big changes.
My daughter was still a senior in high school, and my greatest fear was financial instability without my husband. Would I really be able to provide for my daughter and myself? I decided to take a week off, and signed up for “Reclaiming your life after 40” at Kripalu. It was wonderfully healing, and gave me the clarity I needed. I decided to divorce and move into nice suburban neighborhood.
I was happy to be free and independent, but got on a hamster wheel of activity for the next three years. More school flowed into 72-hour work weeks often without a day off for long stretches at a time, which flowed into studying for my Master’s degree. I helped my daughter through college. She was suffering a great deal of loss herself and had some health issues, as well as anxiety.
She received medical attention, I bought her a beautiful therapeutic puppy French Bulldog (Lucy), and I bought her a series of yoga classes, and she recovered! But with all of the costs of college and medical bills, I began to struggle financially. I was drowning in anxiety and overwhelmed with all of the changes that were occurring in my life.
The following summer, I took my daughter to Kripalu for a healing yoga retreat. It was wonderful! We got massage, walked the labyrinth, walking meditation through the forests, and daily yoga classes. Towards the end of our week, we went to Jennifer’s Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra workshop. It was the most powerful tool we had experienced to relieve the anxiety. We each bought Jennifer’s CDs to began to practice yoga nidra at home occasionally. Then I moved to Sarasota, and my daughter away to graduate school. We both were in need of a fresh start, and sunshine! More change and loss — I missed my daughter horribly.
My plan was to enjoy the “Florida lifestyle”, however, I was sinking in debt including high costs for my daughters education, and began working seven days a week. I was paralyzed with fear of financial instability. I was spinning and pedaling as fast as I could, and was spiraling downward into a life wrought with caffeine, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and completely neglected my health. I was experiencing high blood pressure and other health issues. I was scared of what would become of my health, my daughter, and my life. I kept adding things to my already “full plate”, and had truly lost all balance.
I lent Jennifer’s CDs’ to two of my coworkers who were going through life changes. They thanked me and praised Jennifer and the CDs. I noticed a true change in them that was physically visible in their appearance and demeanor at the office! The energy shift was palpable as they experienced more clarity, inner peace and joy in their lives.
Then, a colleague told about her friend who heard of Jennifer Reis, and how wonderful Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra was. The very following day, I received an email a notification that Jennifer was bringing her Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra teacher training to Tampa! I instantly knew that all these coincidences were a sign.
At first I was imagining receiving new skills and a certification in order to bring yoga nidra to others. I was racing in so many directions, at a million miles a minute. But after the first day being led in Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, I felt a deep sense of inner healing and peace. I was still unclear and wondered what I was doing there. I shared with other students, how I seemed to keep collecting certifications that I did not use.
I left and cried to myself half the way home to Sarasota! I called and spoke to my daughter, and it finally became clear to me that I needed to slow down, to have faith and manifest my own truth. Things became more clear to me – unresolved grief over leaving my home on the Christmas tree farm, fear about finances, my current relationship and lifestyle choices that I was making for myself, and the general exhaustion and irritation I was feeling.
I decided that overcommitting myself was not to be the answer to joy and inner peace, and had worked too hard, to allow myself to continue in this mode. I kept going to Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra teacher training wondering if it was yet another over-achieving impulse within me. But I continued to gain more and more clarity, and I slowly began to feel revitalized, healthy and balanced! I knew this was for ME, not for others, and not simply to achieve another ‘thing’.
Jennifer is so skillful, and carefully and safely guided me with her voice to a safe place deep inside, where I’m somewhere between sleep and awake. It is a place where the stress of the unconscious mind dissolves. I was able to connect with my inner voice to set an intention from my heart’s deepest longing. In the past I had tried to meditate and manifest true happiness for myself, but never actually got there, until now with yoga nidra meditation.
Jennifer taught us hand mudras which I find amazingly therapeutic. Now I practice mudras daily and I feel a shift from fear into freedom, security, health and balance! Now I have a daily yoga practice, and practice Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra many days per week. My diet is already greatly improved, including more mindful consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
Through Jennifer’s guidance I was reminded to first fill up my spirit’s well, before I can help others. I plan to teach Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, but first I want to receive its benefits for my own health and balance – for me!