What is iRest meditation?
iRest is a simple mindfulness-based meditation practice, based on the ancient tradition of Yoga Nidra and adapted to suit the conditions of modern life.
iRest meditation empowers you to integrate challenging memories, emotions and beliefs and to return to your complete and harmonious wholeness of being.
iRest is simple to learn and easy to practice by anyone, regardless of physical ability or experience with meditation. You can choose to lay down or sit during the guided meditations. Once practiced regularly, iRest becomes a set of tools for life.
Mindfulness meditation is known to nourish qualities such as joy, gratitude and loving kindness toward yourself and others.
Research shows that iRest can help you releases negative emotions and thought patterns and calm your nervous system. iRest has been shown to be effective in scientific trials for conditions including chronic pain, sleep problems, depression and anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Are you interested in learning iRest meditation?
We organise regular iRest meditation courses and workshops in Lismore and surroundings.
Private one-on-one sessions and group sessions are also available.
Upcoming iRest meditation courses
Wednesdays, April 8 till May 13, 5.30 till 6.30 pm, Lismore
What happens during an iRest guided meditation class?
Each meditation class starts with a short explanation and some gentle movement.
You are then welcome to make yourself comfortable with cushions and blankets, either laying down or sitting. I will then offer you guidance through the practice.
An iRest guided meditation class is a journey of approximately 35 minutes. The first part of the journey is forwards coming home to your body in this moment, in a safe way.
As your body and mind start to settle, you are invited to set an intention for your practice and check in with your heart.
Your Inner Resource
Next you are invited to explore your Inner Resource, a place in you that always feels safe and at ease.
A rotation of your attention to the sensations in different parts of your body and a focus on your breath can bring a relaxation response that balances your nervous system. It also possibly changes your brain waves from Beta to Alpha, a slower restorative brain wave activity.
Welcoming it all
In this non-reactive state you learn to welcome, but not identify with, emotions or beliefs. This can build resiliency and new neuropathways to deal with strong emotions and beliefs in a different way. When a certain emotion or feeling gets overwhelming, you have your Inner Resource to fall back on.
After fully welcoming the body sensations and the activities of the mind, there can be a profound stillness. You are here and you are not here. You are in deep sleep and still there is something that is awake.
It is like the movie of your mind has stopped and you now see the screen it was projected on. It have been described as a spaciousness that is timeless and without lacking but full of possibility.
Rested and balanced
The group class ends with tea, Q&A and suggestions for a home practice. You can also receive a recording via email.
The meditation classes will be held in the friendly and welcoming space of the Yemaya healing Centre.
The meditation classes are trauma informed and participants can combine iRest with other treatments for PTSD, anxiety and depression.
"IRest has become a special time in my week, a timeless time, that I share with a group of friends. We speak about our life and experiences with the meditation practice, both before and after the session. This turns out to be an intimate sharing in a protected space.
It is very valuable in that we all understand that we are not alone, that we all battle the same sort of difficulties in our life journeys - even more, that we in fact do share our existence.
Yoga Nidra helps me to develop a range of practical tools for my daily life: managing emotions, difficult situations, anxieties, sleepless nights, conflict, aggression, old trauma…
I very much recommend Yoga Nidra and Sam is a wonderful teacher. She guides us beautifully and she generously yet humbly shares her knowledge and experience."
Benefits of meditation
A lot of participants of the meditation classes say that 35 minutes iRest feels like 3 hours of deep sleep. They feel rested and relaxed after their practice.
iRest is a mindfulness-based meditation, and recently there has been an explosion of research published on the benefits of meditation on the functioning of the nervous system and hormonal system.
Evidence based research has also shown that iRest effectively reduces PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and chemical dependency, as well as increases well-being.
People who partake in meditation classes report:
- decreased symptoms of depression, fear and anxiety
- greater ability to relax and enjoy life
- reduced insomnia and levels of stress
- improved interpersonal relations
- reduced chronic and acute pain
"Yoga Nidra was a pleasant surprise for me. It is a body-based meditation that affected me (positively) more than I'd expected.
Being a part of Sam Voolstra's IRest Yoga Nidra program is a here-and-now experience which is enjoyable, satisfying and, well, makes your life better."
Richard Miller and the development of iRest
iRest meditation is based on ancient yogic explorations called Yoga Nidra and modern neuroscience.
It was the American yoga teacher and clinical psychologist Richard Miller who started practicing Yoga Nidra as a yoga student in the early seventies and over time developed it to fit the needs of modern times.
Richard Miller did a lot of research on the effect of Yoga Nidra on the brain. He used brain scans and adapted the traditional Yoga Nidra with what he learned from neuroscience and modern psychology.
The result was a 10 step meditation technique and he started teaching this to students as they comfortably laid down.
As Miller studied the effects of his Yoga Nidra approach on his students he found that the practice made them relax and helped them with stress, anxiety, trauma, depression, insomnia and substance abuse.
Meditation for veterans
The US army was interested in the results of Miller’s study on the effect of Yoga Nidra on PTSD. They invited Miller for a trial, but under the condition that he changed the name Yoga Nidra into iRest, as the mention of yoga was too airy fairy for the military. The trail was a success and iRest is still used in US army hospitals.
The iRest Institute, set up by Richard Miller, now trains teachers worldwide.
Meditation classes are shared with many different groups in community centers, yoga studios, hospitals, rehab clinics, jails and homeless shelters (for more information)
Find more information and research reports on www.irest.org
"The calm feeling stayed with me for so long after the meditation class and you know, even though i have been smashed at work and home over the last month or so, i think i really do have a new sense of stability which perhaps has given me the foundation to be more open and just roll with what comes and know it's all ok.
That safe feeling you had me hold together with the other things that come along. wow. just one meditation class with you and this can happen? wow. And you know, every time i 'reset' my shoulders in bed to unwind for sleep I think of you kindly and masterfully 'resetting' my shoulders. this means i get to have a happy bubble most nights as i sink into sleep. Thank you, Sam!"
Sam Voolstra is a certified iRest® teacher.
She gives regular iRest meditation classes for small groups and one-on-one sessions in Northern Rivers, helping people with anxiety, depression, stress and PTSD.
Sam: "In 2015 I was part of the double earthquake in Nepal that destroyed lives, houses and infrastructure. After a period of involvement with disaster relief I came to Australia and started to notice that something was not right.
I could not sleep or had nightmares. In addition I was always expecting the worse to happen to me or others in the form of accidents and disaster. Buildings and streets were moving and did not feel safe anymore, and the sight of people made me break into a panic and my body shake.
Because of this I lost my self confidence and energy and ended up in a heap on the couch starring into space.
It helped a little when I found out that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At least I now had something to work with and my journey to feeling better started.
I am a yoga teacher and therefore it was logical for me to look for healing tools in the yogic wisdom. I also longed for a practical science based approach to work with my PTSD, and I was lucky to find a perfect combination of both in iRest.
Now I like to share with you the meditation technique that helped me heal PTSD, and most importantly is making me feel more grounded, authentic and whole than ever before.”