Open Letter from an iRest Practitioner and Teacher

September 30, 2019
Noelle Poncelet, PhD

You may have experienced mood symptoms over a long period of time, you may just have experienced them recently, or you may be experiencing them in response to a big change, shift, or loss in your life. You have likely already done many things to help yourself. I respect you and your process and know that you want to take care of yourself in the best way possible. I want to tell you a little bit about my experiences with the iRest (Integrative Restoration) meditation program and the study at IONS, which is looking at how it can help improve mood symptoms.

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.

iRest practices add to rather than negatively affect what you may have already done to address your mood symptoms, by including a transpersonal approach. By transpersonal, I mean an approach that is both psychological and spiritual. When I say that this is an approach that incorporates the spiritual, I am not referring to religion. What I mean is that iRest uses practices like contemplation, visualization, reflection, introspection and prayer, which all involve important parts of your brain (the right hemisphere), in addition to the cognitive tools you may already be familiar with, that impact the left hemisphere of the brain (intellect/cognition). If you are someone who considers yourself religious, I can personally vouch that the iRest approach will not invalidate or devalue your religious self or beliefs. On the contrary, these practices support your devotion to a greater reality that relies on intuition and respects your integrity and your whole self.

iRest practices offer a different perspective to many traditional psychological approaches (like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) where certain feelings are not welcomed at times — such as sadness and grief, frustration and anger, anxiety and fear. In iRest, the emphasis is not on fighting, fixing, or changing these emotions but on valuing their presence as hidden gifts and experiencing what happens when they are given space and time to be greeted rather than rejected and excluded. It may seem like a very strange concept, but I can tell you that it works! Some research shows that it can affect how our brain works and how it processes emotions, and increases the rest and relax part of our nervous system.

Now 80 years old, I am personally and regularly practicing the tools presented in the four-week iRest Course which is part of the IONS study to evaluate iRest’s effectiveness on addressing mood symptoms. What is presented in this course has profoundly contributed to the vitality and sense of usefulness I feel in my life. I did not always feel this vibrant and confident and, at times, I do still feel all the emotions and beliefs that show up in this difficult and stressful time on this planet. I now respond with different tools and it is a deep pleasure to share them with you if you are interested to experiment with the iRest practices.

To learn more about the 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 four-week online iRest webinar series to evaluate its effects on depression symptoms in adults (50+ years old). 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 one 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!

Take the iRest Eligibility Survey

Or copy and paste this link into your browser:

If you have any issues accessing the survey, please email the Research Manager, Nina Fry, “iRest Screening Survey” in the subject line of your email.

Noelle Poncelet, PhDNoelle Poncelet, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, a certified iRest instructor, and a shamanic practitioner and teacher. She has served as adjunct clinical faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, UCSF, and Stanford University. Dr. Poncelet bridges psychology, spirituality, body, and nature consciousness, and social justice awareness in therapy which includes iRest, hypnosis, non-violent communication, shamanic counseling, and family systemic intervention to treat trauma and addiction in particular. She is a facilitator with the Alternative to Violence Project in prison and community settings. Dr. Poncelet delights in being a mother and grandmother and celebrates the memory and legacy of her husband, Claude, in her daily life.

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