Loosely defined as the with drawl of the senses inward, Pratyahara is the fifth limb of the eight limbed path of yoga, or simply Ashtanga Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is literally interpreted in English as the "'eight limbed path of union". The other seven limbs we will discuss later, but today we will explore Pratyahara, or the with drawl of the senses inward to the center of oneself.
Many religions, spiritual practices, and psychological theories are mirrored in this mind and body synchronized practice of stillness, emptiness, or even nothingness. When we allow ourselves to sit quietly we experience many things in many different ways, yet always are we exploring new territory of our own reality. There is no need to be scared of our thoughts, though sometimes we may feel we are going mad! The mental and physical roadblocks may challenge us, but as long as we truly recognize and understand their presence means we are growing on many levels, both seen and unseen (gross and subtle) then we will be more consistent and "keep our eyes on the prize" as Pete Seeger so eloquently sings. Greater than any cosmic voyage or psychedelic experience for that matter, the infinite bounds of the Self are in fact the intangible dreams of our uncovered mind treasure.
We may practice pratyahara not only while meditating, but also while engaged in conversation, while driving our vehicle, or even in an uncomfortable setting where our mind, thoughts, and senses need to be centered upon our internal stillness. The circumstances are not as important as the prime focus on calmness and present awareness at that exact moment. It is best suited for beginners to find a place free of external distraction. As the stillness expands within oneself, the practice may be engaged in all areas of our life as we feel comfortable and see fit. It is a one size fits all, lifetime warranty, no questions asked return policy approach to self empowerment and social strengthening of humanity. There is absolutely no need for any kind of overwhelming commitment or self-induced doubt. Remember to breathe and simply try to practice pratyahara when you can!
Just simply sit quietly for 20 minutes, breathe deeply into the lower lobes of the lungs, and bring a sense of focus to the center point between the eye brows. If our minds are properly tended, then the orchards of our mind may bear life sustaining fruit. When the mind begins to wander, try practicing pratyahara by bringing focus to the breath and emptiness to the mind. Remember it takes time, so be gentle to yourself and remind yourself we wrote this because we love you so very much and seek only to see your success, and our success together.