Among the very most important texts in Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in the 2nd Century, BC. In it, he articulates eight limbs which comprise the “Royal Path” of Yoga. The fifth limb, Pratyahara, is withdrawal of the senses.
We spend most of our waking lives oriented towards external stimuli. Our five senses drive our experience of reality and exert great control over our behavior. And a result, especially in a market-based, media driven culture, we are pulled in a multitude of directions and find ourselves in a never ending cycle of desire. This sustains the anxiety that permeates most of our lives and prevents us from deepening our consciousness and finding inner peace.
By withdrawing our senses and going within, we find stillness, silence and contentment. We come more fully into the true present moment and cultivate pure awareness. Ultimately, we establish a dialogue with our Soul and tap into our inherent wisdom and divinity.
I invite you to practice the Yoga of Pratyahara in these ways:
- Tune out mass media by turning off the television, radio and computer.
- Find time for stillness and silence rather than the constant doing of your daily life.
- Avoid loud, frenetic environments and instead seek time in nature.
- Spend five minutes in meditation each evening, breathing in a silent OM on the in-breath and out-breath.