Role of Nidra and Immunity in the Context of Pandemic

Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi

“Everybody Needs Powerful Sleep to manifest their Destinies” – Sister BK Shivani

A good dose of Nidra (Sleep) is essential to produce any amount of productive work throughout the day. Most people forgo sleep on the behest of work and other activities unaware that this one mistake brings down the efficiency of one of the most important systems of our body, that is, the Immunity. A healthy life is an amalgamation of appropriate diet, a structured lifestyle, and good sleep  – Ahar, Vihar and Nidra.

Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, in lieu to it’s November initiative ‘Yoga Nidra’ for promotion of immunity, organised a weekly webinar on the topic, “Role of Nidra and Immunity in the Context of Pandemic,” presided over by Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, Director, MDNIY, Taiyab Alam, Communication and Documentation Officer along with other members of the institute on the panel.

The eminent speaker of the evening, BK Shivani, gave an astounding lecture on the importance of Nidra and it’s efficacy for the upkeep of immunity. 

Sister Shivani is a practitioner of Rajyoga Meditation of the Brahma Kumaris for over 22 years. Her practical application of spiritual principles on the TV programme ‘Awakening With Brahma Kumaris’, for over 13 years has empowered people to overcome issues of emotional distress, depression and relationship conflicts.  In March 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskaar, the highest civilian honour for women in India, for her role in transforming human behaviours. She has been appointed as Goodwill Ambassador by the World Psychiatrist Association.

The webinar began with an introductory session by Dr Basavaraddi who detailed Sister Shivani on the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Ayush to combat the coronavirus pandemic in India by the means of 7 systems of therapy –  Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy and Sowa Rigpa. These are included in the protocols launched by the ministry which are used by health care experts. He also mentioned three steps being undertaken by MDNIY to contain the pandemic crisis, which are:

  • Directly teaching Yoga to COVID-19 patients.
  • Aiding quarantined individuals to overcome stress and anxiety-related issues through Yoga, and;
  • Conducting research works that aim to aid healthcare workers and all those who are battling the virus by studying it.

Dr Bassvaraddi said, “Yoga not only aids our physical fitness but also brings an all-round change on our emotional and mental well being. Keeping ourselves healthy in this pandemic situation could be our best service to the nation right now.”

Sister Shivani taking forward Dr Basavaraddi’s remarks said that “For more than 6 months now we have lived through a time of great unrest, so much has been learnt wherein Ministry of Ayush has helped us to understand the know-how of keeping ourselves healthy in the most basic and elaborative ways.”

She further spoke, “since day one we were told – Take Care, Don’t Panic. Though we did learn to take care, along the way the ‘don’t panic’ part got lost in translation. We have learnt  to keep ourselves safe from COVID-19 but not the panic in our thoughts.” Along with the virus, several other problems inserted themselves in our life – lockdowns, work pressures, personal and emotional burdens have surrounded us by an atmosphere of fear and panic.

Sister Shivani says, “Emotional Pollution and it’s vibrations in the air are all around us, which impact our psycho-social well being. Therefore, there has been a rise in depression, anxiety, stress problems among the masses.” She talks about Emotional Health as an integral part of our safety mechanisms, wherein physical immunity guards us against the viruses, but emotional immunity helps us battle problems induced by COVID-19 crisis.

Fear and panic regress our emotional immunity but also at the same time hamper the power of our physical immunity in keeping diseases at bay, there both of these need to grow hand in hand.

Elaborating on the essence of Nidra, sister Shivani said, “Sleep plays a vital role in ensuring the emotional and mental health of our being wherein Yoga and Nidra energize our body.” People these days have become prone to putting sleep secondary to work which actually produces no quality work. Yoga stands for lifestyle discipline. There is immense power in discipline and a routine of good sleep is what ensures a day full of productivity.

Sister Shivani gave special emphasis on “Atma Nirbharta (Self-reliance) of our Actions” which means that one should never blame people or situations for how they feel. Anger, resentment, and negative thoughts drain our emotional health constantly but minding the healthy chain of thoughts bring good sleep at night. 

Sleep and the waking hour should be scheduled over a time that revitalizes our core to the maximum. She talks about the highest energy time of the day, which is 4 to 5 AM – known as Amrit Vela or Brahma Muhrat. During this time the vibration and energy in nature are at its best, therefore, practising meditation and yoga at this hour refines our intuition, clarity, and the decision making power.

“Decluttering” the mind, Sister Shivani says, is imperative to determine “How well we Sleep.”

At least an hour before sleep we should strictly keep ourselves away from negative thoughts, this means bringing our brain from Beta (active) stage to Alpha (slow dream state) and then simultaneously slipping into the Delta (deep sleep state).

Sister Shivani suggested creating and remembering a certain set of “Sankalps” (Oaths) every night before sleep. These Sankalps are what determine the first thoughts that run through our mind in wakefulness and henceforth go about influencing our whole day creating a cycle of thought.

Sankalp can be thoughts like: “I am powerful, peaceful, healthy and in command of my actions.” Sankalp’s have the ability to manifest into reality since sleep can make destiny too.

The webinar came to a fruitful conclusion with an interactive session wherein Dr Basavaraddi applauded the impactful statements made by Sister Shivani which read “Powerful Sleep for Destiny” and how “the meditative lifestyle is very essential for Atma Nirbhar actions.”

Since we become what we think, Director MDNIY sought Sister Shivani’s suggestion on “How waking during Brahma Muhrat can help in divine realization?”  To this, sister Shivani said, “Experimentation is the key, spirituality is our experiment with the inner world. In order to observe a divine experience, our body sets into clock overtime with regular routine and practice“. She gave a beautiful example of how a farmer sows seeds as per appropriate season and time, in a similar way, every individual needs to cultivate definitive sleep patterns based on their personal routines and discipline of time. 

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