Yoga Nidra, The Yoga of Dreams

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is the Yoga of Dreams, the practice of working with one’s dreams to advance one’s conscious evolution and earthly mission. Yoga Nidra is one of the lesser-known but most powerful forms of yoga. Very few yoga schools teach yoga nidra, either because it is not profitable to do so (the practice is normally done free of charge at the student’s home) or because the yoga teacher has little or no experience with this practice.

Dreaming is the Key to Good Sleep

Sleep is said to replenish and conserve energy and to protect us from nightly harm. But we can learn to conserve and replenish our energy during the day, and we can certainly stay clear of harm, by eliminating the bad habits that lead to disease. But we would still need to sleep. Why? The need for sleep is all about the dream.

If you get a reasonable amount of sleep, and yet still feel tired, you may be able to solve this problem by learning to work with your dreams (yoga nidra). And if you do not get enough sleep, then it is very likely that you are missing out on the invaluable benefits of dreaming.

Yet studies, articles and books on sleeping frequently understate or ignore the importance of dreaming. Most studies relating to sleep will focus on measurable data like the number of hours or minutes one is alseep, or the release of certain hormones such as melatonin, cortisol, human growth hormone (HGH) and serotonin. No study that I am aware of has properly considered the importance of dreaming. Perhaps for good reason: the value of the dream is immeasurable!

The Divine Trinity in You

In religious terms, the Divine Trinity is a triple-entity, three beings in one. The key concepts are oneness and synergy. The same must be true for the body, mind and soul. Not only do they form a single “triple” entity, but the sum is indeed greater than the parts. If these “three parts” fail to recognize each other and work together, then your life will lack peace, harmony and a deep sense of success.

Dreaming and Spiritual Freedom

Dreaming and mining one’s dreams for consciousness is  useful in accomplishing one’s earthly mission. Working with dreams is also called Yoga Nidra. While you dream, your spirit is free to gain consciousness. In contrast, while you are awake, it may be that your spirit normally yields to a demanding brain and a body that chases after its every whim.

Freedom of spirit is indispensable to maintain sanity. And dreaming is among the surest ways to free the soul. The deep desire of the spirit is the reason that you are here. Therefore it pays to put forth some effort in deepening your understanding of your mission, and much effort towards accomplishing the said mission.

How to get the most from your Dreams

To get the most from your dreams, it is necessary to develop the correct perspective on the value of your dreams. If you hold that your dreams are just random images with little meaning, then you will unfortunately miss out on one of the most valuable tools for evolving your consciousness. If, on the other hand, you hold a deep respect for the immense potential value that your dreams offer you in the way of completing your earthly mission, then you have the right attitude to proceed with yoga nidra.
One should reserve 15-30 minutes of meditation time before and after sleeping. Before retiring, the night-time meditation prepares your body, mind and spirit for the change that is about to take place. The body and the mind will be giving up their control for the time being. The soul will be taking a “voyage” without the limitations imposed by the physical world. The time spent meditating immediately prior to launching this voyage will create alpha brain waves, which get the dream off to a healthy start and usually result in more serene, revealing dreams as compared to the chaotic dreams that often follow “normal” activities like watching TV or listening to the radio.

What Happens While You Dream?

When you lay your body down to sleep, your mind goes with it. In fact, your body and mind go everywhere together. These two are married. That is to say that they are connected ‘until death’. But this marriage is not complete without the soul. In fact, this ‘third member’ should be considered the most important part of the marriage. Unfortunately, the soul is often considered a ‘third wheel’ in the ultra-exclusive relationship between body and mind. The soul is ignored during all waking hours. To keep the Universe in balance, the body and mind necessarily must lay down together so that the soul can ‘fly solo’ for a while. During this solo flight, the soul is unrestrained by the normal limitations of the body. There is no logistical problem in getting from place to place, and there is no lineal time. This means that in a 5-minute nap, your soul can have the experience of having traveled to another continent (and maybe even another planet!). To get a similar experience that includes the body would require first buying a ticket, driving to the airport (or rocket launch site), hours of waiting, hours of flying… time and money and the coordinated effort of many people! But despite the great cost of the voyage, the benefit is usually greater than the cost. Claiming such an experience in a 5-minute siesta sounds to me like the epitome of efficiency!

The Healthiest Sleep-Wake Cycle

Yoga Nidra  Postcard
Yoga Nidra Postcard

The healthiest relationship between your dream state and your waking state is that one is a continuation of the other. Imagine a dolphin swimming near the surface of the ocean towards the sunrise… the dolphin may jump in and out of the water but the overall direction is fairly consistent. Compare this against a circular system where the dolphin jumps out of the water towards the sunrise then switches directions upon re-entering the water. This dolphin exerts the same energy but does not advance. Such is also the case for humans that spend their days not following their dreams.

Cacao, the Chocolate Fruit

Liquid Chocolate

Cacao –Food of the Gods

Cacao is among the most famous plants on Earth. Its name comes from the Greek, and means “food of the gods”. Cacao was used and cultivated by ancient Central American indigenous tribes such as the Mayas, Aztecs and Kunas as currency. Their abundant gold was used as a mere decoration as it could not be as valuable as that which produced health.

Modern scientists are re-discovering the many medicinal uses of antioxidant-rich cacao, including its ability to fight cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression, while stimulating cognitive function, improving memory and intelligence.

Cacao, and Natural Chocolate

Liquid Chocolate, made from the Cacao Fruit
Liquid Chocolate, made from the Cacao Fruit

Cacao is the most important component in the production of chocolate. While commercial chocolates often contain copious amounts of sugar, cow milk and other addictive and toxic substances, it is certainly possible to produce a high quality chocolate using only healthy ingredients like cacao, coconut, and a natural sweetener like stevia, honey or maple syrup.

Health Benefits of Cacao and Chocolate

A 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found a “close, significant linear correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates”. (1)

Other recent studies have shown a positive effect on cholesterol, cough, weight loss, eczema, heart disease, high blood pressure and skin care.

In my wellness center, several female clients reported an absence of PMS symptoms following a chocolate therapy administered prior to the expected onset of the monthly symptoms. This chocolate therapy consisted of painting dark chocolate sauce on the patient from head to toe, allowing the skin to absorb the nutrients, as well as inhalation of the chocolate aroma, and a small amount of this same chocolate mixture was consumed.

Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac and a mood-enhancer. Raw cacao stimulates the production of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, important neurotransmitters that block pain while creating pleasure and relaxation. Endorphins are our natural pain relievers; when pain suddenly disappears, a feeling of euphoria takes its place. Dopamine produces a feeling of joy with heightened focus and attention. Serotonin is our natural anti-depressant and it is important for relaxation and sleep. Each of these neurotransmitters are needed for good physical and mental health. Higher-than-normal levels of these neurotransmitters is likely to produce a feeling of intense pleasure and euphoria.

Interestingly, when forced to choose between chocolate and sex, 22 percent of women said they’d prefer chocolate. A survey of  2000 people found that alcohol, chocolate and sex were the three most difficult things to forgo.  (2)

It is important to keep both sides of this coin in proper perspective. While decreasing pain and increasing both pleasure and relaxation are normally welcomed benefits, relying on any one nutrient to stimulate these natural functions can lead to addiction and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if consumption ceases. In other words, cacao may be considered a medicine, and it is important to regulate the dosage. An excess external stimulation may cause the body to under-produce on its own, which would explain the withdrawal symptoms.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that people who suffer extreme depression have an irregular production of phenylethylamine or PEA, an amphetamine that stimulates dopamine receptors and increases mental alertness, pulse,  blood pressure and blood sugar levels. When we fall in love, our brain naturally releases phenylethlamine, producing so much pleasure that it can be addictive. The heartbroken may self-medicate by binging on chocolate since chocolate is high in phenylethylamine.

Theophylline is a stimulant of the heart and central nervous system, relaxes the bronchial smooth muscles, and may be effective in preventing and treating apnea in premature infancy.

Anandamide is an endocannabinoid. Endocannabinoids occur naturally in the brain, but are most concentrated in the cannabis plant, and to a much lesser extent in cacao.

The Raw Cacao Fruit

Cacao pod
Cacao pod

Pictured above is an entire cacao pod, which grows directly from the trunk of a tree in Central America.

Cacao pod, split open
Cacao pod, split open

The picture above shows the cacao pod sliced in half, revealing the seeds covered in a sweet gooey white gel.

Cacao seeds coated in gel
Cacao seeds coated in gel

Pictured above are the raw seeds covered in white slimy gel. This sweet gel may be the key to prevention of cancer and heart disease as it is consumed by the indigenous tribe that does not suffer either of these degenerative diseases. There are almost no studies on the consumption of the gel, most probably because developed countries normally only receive the processed cacao and have never had access to the fruit in its raw form.

Cacaotero Theobroma

The scientific name of the chocolate fruit is “Cacaotero Theobroma”. Its chemical composition includes a large number of vitamins, amino acids and other phyto-nutrients… over 300 compounds in all. The flavor components include polyphenols, aliphatic esters, unsaturated aromatic carbonyls, pyrazines, diketopiperazines, and theobromine.

Per 100 grams, the seed contains 456 calories, 3.6 grams of water, 12.0 grams of protein, 46.3 grams of fat, 34.7 grams of total carbohydrate, 8.6 grams of fiber, 106 mg of calcium, 537 mg phosphorus, 3.6 mg iron, 30 mg beta-carotene, 0.17 mg of thiamine (Vitamin B1), 0.14 mg riboflavin (Vitamin B2), 1.7 mg niacin (Vitamin B3), and 3 mg ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

Wealth of India reported that the edible pulp of the fruit contains 79.7–88.5% water, 0.5–0.7% albuminoids, astringents, etc.; 8.3–13.1% glucose, 0.4–0.9% sucrose, a trace of starch, 0.2–0.4% non-volatile acids (as tartaric), 0.03% Fe2O3 and 0.4% mineral salts (K, Na, Ca, Mg).

Raw seeds contain 0.24 mg/100 g thiamine, 0.41 riboflavin, 0.09 pyridoxine, 2.1 nicotinamide, and 1.35 pantothenic acid.

Cocoa also contains about 18% proteins, fats (cocoa butter), amines and alkaloids including theobromine (0.5 to 2.7%), caffeine (ca 0.25% in cocoa; 0.7 to 1.70 in fat-free beans, with forasteros containing less than 0.1% and criollos containing 1.43 to 1.70%), tyramine, dopamine, salsolinol, trigonelline, nicotinic acid, and free amino acids; tannins; phospholipids; and more.

The seeds, leaves and roots contain alkaloids theobromine and caffeine which has diuretic and vasodilator. Antitumor activity was found in the root and bark. The seeds contain fat (cocoa butter) are used in pharmacy as an emollient and for making ointments and creams. It is helpful in treating dry skin, burns, dandruff, dysentery, measles, and even snakebites, according to folk healers. Overall, cocoa is slightly tonic and stimulant, although in large doses or in sensitive individuals, can cause insomnia and tachycardia. (5)

Cacao and Caffeine

To compare the amount of caffeine in a 6 oz cup of various beverages, I rely on information from Tyler and Palotti (6,7).

  1. Expresso coffee: 310 mg
  2. Boiled coffee: 100 mg
  3. Instant coffee: 65mg
  4. Hierba mate: 25–50 mg
  5. Tea: 10–50 mg
  6. Cola: 25 mg
  7. Coca cola: 20 mg
  8. Cocoa (cacao): 13 mg
  9. Pepsi cola: 10 mg

References

  1. Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates, Franz H. Messerli, The New England Journal of Medicine, October 18, 2012.
  2. Cancer Research UK, survey of 2000 people
  3. The Chicago Sun Times
  4. Wealth of India
  5. Maria Candelaria, 102-year-old herbalist
  6. Tyler 1982
  7. Palotti 1977

Thank you, and Good-bye to Doctor David John Carmos

Doctor David Carmos

Today we say good-bye to a remarkable man, a talented healer and a wise teacher. Doctor David John Carmos had devoted a great part of his life to studying and teaching the healing ways of Jesus and the Essenes, an ancient mystical Jewish sect that is most famous for having written The Dead Sea Scrolls.

According to historians, the Essenes may have lived about three times longer than their contemporaries, owing to their clean, vegetarian, disciplined and loving lifestyle. The Essenes were known to adopt abandoned children and care for them greatly. Doctor David became a Bishop of the Essene order.

While returning from a mission in Brazil, he was wrongly imprisoned in Mexico. While serving his ten-year sentence, David performed more than 18,000 treatments… word had traveled throughout Mexico and people in need of healing would line up outside the penitentiary. In his spare time, David penned 12 of his 15 books.

I recently had the good fortune to meet one of David’s students and closest friends, Dr. Shawn C. Miller, who is himself remarkable, disciplined and wise. I am especially thankful to Dr. Miller for gifting me with the book The Essene Master: Gospel of Healing, which was the first book published following David’s release from prison. The book, masterfully written in meter and rhyme, is divided in nine parts.

The following is an excerpt from part one of The Essene Master:

The Spirit of God is seen in the Path of every way,
in the falling of the rain, in the sprouting of a seed,
in the snowflake, in the wave,
and in the breaking of the day.

The Spirit in its various forms
is felt in the light of the full moon,
in the glow of the evening stars,
in the fog of the clouds,
in the cool warm of the sunset,
and in the dampness that makes the dew wet,
in the color of a flower,
in the wave crest’s awesome power,

in the ability of wild oats themselves to sew,
in the magic of a mustard seed, within itself to grow,
within a flock of sheep,
the knowledge of a ewe its young to know,

in the softness of a springtime breeze,
in the society of a hive of bees,
in the intricacy of a spider’s web,
in the recession of a tide at the new moons ebb,
in the river rapids constant flow,
in the presence that makes a toothless baby’s smile glow,
in the thunder and lightning of the first storm of spring,
and in the voice of the nightingale when it sings.

I am grateful to David for his wise words and the beautiful example that was his life on Earth. I will leave you with the following excerpt from part four of The Essene Master, as it is especially appropriate in saying goodbye to a beloved friend:

Life is our opportunity to experience and
to grow according to a certain plan
and when we have exhausted this earthly shell,
then we complete another life’s span.

Then enters death, which in reality
is no enemy of man,
but another opportunity
to in other ways grow and expand.

Death is but the knife which cuts the cord
that anchors the human ship to Earth,
that it might sail the oceans of the spirit world,
until it finds a new port, to experience another birth.

When a soul and body go their separate ways,
which is a time of growth and rest,
then the spirit enters on another phase;
somewhat like leaving an old cow loose in a field,
to stand in the warmth of the sun and graze.

The calls of death are always for the best,
for we are solving further dilemmas there,
as well as continuing on our spiritual quest.

Veronica Saunders

Veronica Saunders Raw Lasagna

Veronica Saunders is the author of rawandsexy.com. She is a passionate advocate for the raw food movement as she believes in the healing power of clean, organic food.

Veronica switched to a raw vegan diet nearly a decade ago. She specialises in gourmet cuisine, and is able to create a raw vegan version of nearly any ethnic speciality from any culture on Earth. Some of Veronica’s favorites include arabic, italian, greek, german and asian food. Here are just a few of her gorgeous creations:

I recently met up with Veronica in Los Angeles during the Raw Living Expo.

Veronica Saunders and Michael Ducharme in Los Angeles Airport
Veronica Saunders and Michael Ducharme in Los Angeles

veronica-saunders

Veronica is a former model, having graced the covers of several national magazines. She currently provides raw food catering services as well as food and fashion photography.

Veronica occasionally shares her recipes via youtube. Take a look at the following page, where she shares her recipe for raw banana crepes stuffed with strawberries and blueberries and sweet sauce.