“There was a point in the Yoga Nidra when I got very frightened and jumped and gasped – like I sometimes do just before I fall asleep. I was momentarily panicked.“
~ a panicked student after class
This experience (and the reporting of it) is quite common.
When you deep dive – even for a millisecond – into that Nidra zone, it can feel like you are visiting a place you’ve never been to before. Some have even compared the experience to the feeling of dying or like you’re in freefall.
But consider what is “dying” or disjointing at that moment. That what is the sense of “I“ (a.k.a. the ego). Your ego is the vehicle your psyche uses to distinguish your self from others. It creates your identity from an amalgam of inputs, like your social status, job, possessions, education, appearance, relationships, and so much more. The ego clings to the familiar. And the ego goes to great lengths to preserve itself by resisting any and all potential threats.
But ego-based, acquired power feels safe only as long as it can retain control of its external conditions and situations. The moment the ego loses control, it feels powerless. And frightened.
My teacher, Dr. Kamini Desai, explains the power of Yoga Nidra in this way:
If you’ve lived believing that the world is flat for your entire life, and then one day you go off “the edge of the world” (Yoga Nidra) … and you realize that it was not an edge after all … well, this is both scary and exhilarating!
Just as there is infinite space beyond the edge of the world, there is an infinite existence beyond the edge of the mind. And while it’s quite a paradox that the ego that has separated from Source would also be scared to return to Source, there is nothing to fear.