Review: Ananda Nidra: Blissful Sleep (Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson)

I’ve been curious about tantra for a long time, so I was happy for the opportunity to review Ananda Nidra: Blissful Sleep, a two-CD meditation set by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson.  These meditations combine Yoga Nidra, the practice of “yogic sleep,” with the sensual themes of tantra.  I had two questions when reviewing these CDs–how effective are the meditations compared to other meditative practices, and how effective are they specifically as a sensual or tantric practice?

The two CDs are very similar–each 44-minute meditation starts with an extended period of relaxation, moving the focus through each body part, and then moves into sense-focused cues intended to evoke a feeling of pleasure throughout the body.  The meditations are followed by a 16-minute music track.  One CD features Michaels’ voice, and the other features Johnson’s, so the listener can select a meditation based on a preference for a male or female voice, or for one of the featured artists used for a backing track.

Compared to other audio meditations I’ve used, I found Anandra Nidra to be very effective.  Though, like most meditations, I had difficulty staying awake through the long relaxation portion, afterwards I felt rested and slightly heavy in my limbs, a feeling I’ve sought from my early yoga practice without success.  I would use these CDs to meditate for that effect alone, aside from any sensual desires.  I was pleasantly surprised that my first experience with yoga nidra was in fact more effective than a “regular” meditation.  My only complaint on this point is that the instructions at the end of the CD guide the listener through waking and movement, which makes it harder to maintain the meditative state through the additional music track.

As a sensual practice, I have more mixed feelings.  I like the idea of focusing on different sorts of pleasurable sensations, but the cues are specific enough to alienate some listeners.  For example, a reference to penetration may pull some out of the meditation.  The meditation also assumes that the listener has, or has had, a sexual partner, and has had specific sexual experiences with that person.  I did appreciate that the culmination of the practice does not put pressure on the listener to have an particular experience, but I didn’t feel that the meditation gave me any special sort of sensual or sexual experience, either.  I am curious about whether over time, this might be a way of becoming more in tune with one’s sexuality or sensual experience, but it’s probably a good idea not to have your tantric expectations set too high as a beginner.

If you’re interested in purchasing this CD, it can be found through the TantraPM website.

This post was originally published on the blog Sex Positive Activism, which has now merged to become the sex & relationships section of Queer & Now.

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