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World Religions | Nidra and Islam

March 15, 2016

On Wednesday we went to a yoga Nidra class. I was definitely expecting more of a yoga session including: lunges, child’s pose, warrior, etc., but the ECS actually laid on warm wool blankets and soft pillows. The yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” is the stage in meditation between cognizance and sleep. This type of yoga is the best type of yoga. I got to close my eyes and let my mind loose. Nidra cures all the stress and tension. Many religions use this type of meditation. Nidra helps you connect spiritually to your religion. When the class went to yoga Nidra, we focused on one part of the body throughout the meditation. We started at our finger tips, what do they feel like? We moved up to our neck, then chest, can you feel your heart pumping? By paying attention to a single part of your body at a time, your muscles relax and gives you control of your organs. Thirty minutes to an hour of yoga Nidra equals four hours of sleep.

When we started the process of yoga Nidra, our instructor talked us through it. He told us to focus on one sound only, the car driving by or the clock ticking. Then he told us to create an image in our head of certain things in nature, such as a rose or a waterfall, a tree or waves. Many ECS kids actually did fall asleep during Nidra. For me, it is challenging to fully relax the mind and be attentive to only one body part.

The Denver Islamic Center, which we visited on Thursday, definitely did not meet my expectations at first, but after we settled in, I enjoyed the experience. Walking into the center, it wasn’t in a fancy building, the inside was not the cleanest. My first thought was why am I here, this is uncomfortable. After we walked down to the prayer center, I started to relax. There were a couple men in the room, and they set a sort of calm vibe to the environment. Murad, our guide, was very nice. He met us with an open mind, knowing that we weren’t Muslim, and excepting some of our “negative” questions. His attitude towards his religion was profound. He has strong thoughts, and tried to back up his religion in ways that showed that he was loyal and had strong thoughts.

When we started talking more about Islam, my mind opened up. I knew that Muslims prayed five times a day, which I assumed was very time consuming, and hard to fit into a busy schedule. But, after listening to him explain the schedule, the praying times were pretty broad. Going into the discussion, I felt that women were frowned upon in their religion. After talking to Murad, some things were clarified, but women still pray in the back of a group (behind men and children). This was Muhammad’s way of doing things, assuming men would be distracted if they prayed next to women. The women have their own praying room and washing area in the Denver Islamic Center where the men aren’t allowed to go, but there’s no where in the building that does not allow women. I thought it was interesting that although they thought that homosexuality was a sin, a person who was gay could still be a Muslim. The Koran can only be called the Koran if it’s written in Arabic, otherwise it is just a translation. The class had a lot of questions for Murad, all of which he answered to the best of his ability, as well. In a way, Murad had a biased view (I don’t blame him), so some of the questions were answered in the most positive way reflecting the Islamic religion. I asked him a few questions, and I thought all of them were answered clearly, and he never got offended by the questions.

After visiting the center I think I have came out with much more knowledge of Islam. I used to kind of look down on Muslims just because of what I have heard about them. Many people say all Muslims are bad people, which is definitely not what I think now that I have gotten some background on the religion. I think it is hard for Americans, especially, not to automatically think badly about Islam because extremists who claim to be Muslims terrorize our country! But they have false assumptions many of the times. I am happy I opened my mind up to this religion, and now that I have more knowledge on Islam, I have accepted them more. Making false accusations is wrong, and this ECS has definitely taught me that.