Dissolving into Awareness: iRest Practices for Healing and Transformation

August 12, 2019
Michael Sapiro, Fellow

IONS Fellow Michael Sapiro, PsyD, one of the teachers of the IONS iRest Course for Older Adults, discusses his personal and professional experiences with Integrative Restoration (iRest) and how it may help people experiencing mood symptoms like anxiety or depression.

I was hooked after my first taste of pure awareness that I experienced during an iRest meditation practice. There is no other experience like this. I felt myself dissolve into awareness itself and connected deeply with the radiant vibrancy of sensations, the ripples of sounds, the coolness of the air. I emerged from the experience completely infused with peace and ease.

iRest is a contemporary adaptation of Yoga Nidra — a process of meditative self-inquiry designed to bring about first-hand knowing of who and what you actually are. iRest includes a series of practices such as Connecting with Your Heartfelt Joy, Feeling Your Body, Setting Intentions and several other techniques that connect us to a pure awareness of ourselves, our experiences, and life itself. Due to advances in technology and science, once esoteric and often misunderstood spiritual practices, like Yoga Nidra, have now become mainstream and accessible. We now have an opportunity to enhance integrative health treatments by including the most transformative of these practices in our own healing. Through iRest practices, we learn to connect with a place inside ourselves which is wholesome, healthful, peaceful, and unconditioned. In the end, we are all not just looking for relief from physical or emotional symptoms, but rather to experience wholeness of mind, body, and spirit. Once discovered, this wholesome state naturally elicits a deep, nourishing connection to one’s self, others, and the surrounding world.

The light of our attention and the peace of our awareness are what can be healing. While we are certainly in need of treatments and interventions for mental health and physiological concerns, we also can find ease and well-being in the very same moment symptoms arises. As a clinical psychologist, I apply iRest (Yoga Nidra) meditation in treatment of issues such as trauma, PTSD, anxiety, personality and characterological based traits, depression, chronic pain, and sleep issues, to name just a few.

I have found that the pain is where the medicine is.Michael Sapiro, PsyD

My own profound and accessible experience of dissolving into awareness has not diminished over the many years of my returning again and again to these iRest practices. Unlike other euphoric states, I have experienced that this deep connection to my own awareness is unconditioned: meaning there are no pre-conditions for its existence, and underlies our own very existence. This means that while we experience human states like anxiety, depression, fear, longing, contentment, happiness, etc., there is an unbounded, ever-present field of awareness that holds these experiences. iRest helps us develop awareness as both a needed skill (as in building self-awareness) and as a pure state of being.

I have found that the pain is where the medicine is. Being with emotions and learning their language as sensation points back to the stillness from which they arise. We are then not only able to tolerate painful emotions and sensations, but we learn to have gratitude for them because they are the doorway into the very source of peace we are seeking.

If you would like to learn more about our Integrative Restoration (iRest – Phase 3) Study at IONS, please see the information below and click here to take the eligibility survey!

This study is investigating the effects of an online iRest webinar series to evaluate its effects on depression symptoms in older adults. iRest is based on Yoga Nidra, which is a state of meditation and complete relaxation where meditators withdraw into an inner sensory world. The iRest video course consists of four modules and includes educational information and experiential meditations. Participants will be asked to watch one module a week for four weeks. Each module is approximately 1 hour long. We are seeking 100 adults, 50 years and older who currently live in the US, to participate in this study. Participants will complete online surveys prior to and after completing the iRest course and will be compensated with a $50 Visa gift card once they have completed the study. Please click the link below to see if you are eligible to participate in the iRest-Phase 3 study!

iRest Eligibility Survey

Or copy and paste this link into your browser:
If you have any issues accessing the survey, please email Research Manager Nina Fry with “iRest Screening Survey” in the subject line.

About the Author

Michael Sapiro, PsyDMichael Sapiro, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist, Dharma teacher, meditation researcher, and former Buddhist monk. He is on faculty at Esalen Institute and is a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he engages in research on meditation, transformation, and consciousness. He teaches nationally on the art and science of transformation, expanded human capabilities, self-care, and nondual meditation. He is the founding teacher of Maitri Sangha Boise, an integrated Buddhist community, and director of Maitri House Yoga, LLC, serving the community through integrating meditation practices, psychology, noetic sciences, and social justice. His work is dedicated to personal awakening for the sake of collective and planetary transformation. He can be found at

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