For this week's Thought Bite, we are pleased to present, with permission, this lovely piece titled "Practicing Pratyahara,” by Radhika Shah-Grouven, which provides an interestingly different perspective on Pratyahara. Radhika is a Teacher of the Samaya Srividya Tradition and the Himalayan Lineage. If you'd like to read more of her essays, go to her website http://THAT-first.com
Raja, the royal path of Yoga comprises of 8 limbs. One of the most enigmatic limbs Pratyahara is explained here.
When we meditate upon our breath in the classic meditative postures of Sukhasana, Swastikasana or Siddhasana, we do so with the intention of making our minds one-pointed and going inward. But instead of a steady, quiet mind, all we get is a mind that distracted and frustrated. This is because between the breath and the mind lies the untamed domain of the senses.
Pratyahara is often translated as "Withdrawal of the senses". Many modern seekers find themselves unable to grasp this idea. Is this the real meaning or just an inadequate translation?Add a comment >
Swami Veda Bharati holds the prestigious title of Mahamandaleshwara in the Swami order of monks. He is also the Chancellor of HIHT University, Dehradun, which was established by Master Swami Rama. He has authored approximately 18 books on Indian spirituality including a 1500 page comprehensive commentary on two of the four chapters of Patanjali's Yoga-sutras. Before taking the vows of Swamihood in 1992, Swami Veda Bharati was known as Dr. Usharbudh Arya.
Swami Veda Bharati suggests going every 2-3 hours into a state of inner silence (meditative state) for just 2 minutes.
How to reach this inner state of silence?
1. Sit comfortably (If sitting is not possible, stand comfortably - be practical).
2. If possible, relax all musculature and joints in one breath. The most proficient can do so, but do not struggle. With your awareness, quickly and systematically relax your whole body.
3. Relax your forehead.
4. Feel the touch of the breath in the nostrils.
5. Breathe slowly, gently, smoothly.
6. Let there be no sound, jerks, or pauses.
7. Eliminate the pauses between the breaths. As soon as one breath is completed, begin to feel the next breath flow.
8. Use one of the four thoughts below. Let the chosen thought flow with each breath, not on the lips, not on the tongue, not in the vocal cards, but only as a thought in your mind.
9. After whatever number of above observations of the breath and single repeated thought, observe how the breath, mind, and the word thought are flowing as a single stream.
10. The entire mind becomes an even blowing stream.
11. Without breaking the stream and its operation, slowly open your eyes.
12. Resolve in your mind that you will calm the mind in this way many times in the day.
13. Whatever you do with the mind repeatedly becomes the mind's habit. At present, disturbance is the mind's habit. Later calmness and peace will become the mind's nature.
Thoughts may arise during the meditation. Do not be angry with yourself because of thoughts arising. Be gentle to yourself, and brng your awareness back to your object of concentration.
Even at home you can do this. A good possiblity to integrate the 2 minute meditation into a daily schedule is doing them every time before you begin doing a new activity and after finishing an activity. You can also use otherwise wasted time, like waiting for paying in a store, sitting in a taxi, waiting for a bus, during a television commercial. Be creative, it is just 2 minutes.> Add a comment >