Yoga Nidra | The Layers of the Mind

Yoga nidra is a method of exploring the different layers of the mind. According to certain schools of modern psychology there are three dimensions of mind: the conscious, subconscious and unconscious. The Mandukya Upanishad also classifies the mind into three layers: jagrat, swapna and sushupti. The yogic and psychological terminology can be directly related as follows:

Jagrat: conscious mind
waking state
surface thoughts and perception of the outside world
sthula (gross dimension)
Swapna: subconscious mind
dream state
individual memory and mind
sukshma (subtle dimension)
Sushupti: unconscious mind
deep conscious sleep state
collective memory
karana (causal dimension)

Yoga nidra starts from the swapna state that is, exploration of the subconscious mind. If one masters yoga nidra then the depth of perception may become deeper so that one contacts and explores the sushupti or cosmic mind. Great yogis go even further: they transcend the mind. They enter the state of superconsciousness. In the Mandukya Upanishad this state is called turiya (the fourth dimension of being). This is the highest state ofvoga nidra, which few attain. The Yogataravali says: “Beyond these three states (jagrat, swapna and sushupti) there is turiya. It is a state that is spontaneously experienced by yogis. It is real yoga nidra in the form of pure, illumined consciousness. This yoga nidra is not part of prakriti (nature) but it is the manifested form of purusha (consciousness).”

(v. 26)

The aim of yoga nidra is to progressively explore and transcend the different states of mind.

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