So far on Patanjali’s eight limbed path of yoga, we have discussed the yamas, niyamas, dyhana, and pranayama. I have also showed the asanas various times, which are the poses. Today, I am sharing pratyahara. As we continue along the path, we transition from the physical to the metaphysical. These remaining limbs of yoga will be dealing with the highest states of consciousness.
Pratyahara is a practice focused on sense withdrawal. The withdrawal is of the five physical senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell), and the objects that exist in our inner, mental world. When we are able to go within and examine our thoughts, we can understand why we see the world the way we do in order to change our perspective. Stillness speaks to us.
We can realize we are not our thoughts, but the noticer of our thoughts. In other words, don’t believe everything you think! When we are able to just observe our ideas neutrally, they can eventually lose their power and stop. This is why withdrawing the senses is so important.
We can learn to let go and shed layers of fearful beliefs about ourselves and the world, and shed ideas which trap us in limiting possibility. It is challenging because we are so used to believing our thoughts, but with practice over time we are able to step back and observe to become more objective and quicker to realize when we are traveling down a line of thinking & telling ourselves a story that is not conducive to our wellbeing.
The saying goes, “the truth will set you free”. Because our true self, God/Love in us, is the highest form of being. We can become the most loving, comforting, and highest part of ourselves and have a new lens to view the world. One that is built on trust that everything is going to be okay. One that is built on being our best, so we can be of service and provide this gift to others.
So how do you practice? Find a comfortable position, seated or lying down, in a room void of distraction. Reduce the senses – close your eyes, turn off the TV/phone/laptop, and remove whatever else is drawing your attention. You may also choose to just focus on one sense, like sound. Now, observe & notice for about 10 minutes free of distraction. See how you feel after this experience.
Comment if you try this out or if you have done it before. I would love to hear about your experience if you care to share.