To perceive the world around us, we use sound, sensation, taste, sight, and aroma that we ingest from the environment, which influences our body, mind and quality of life.
Pratyahara is the fifth step of ashtanga yoga. It is the discipline that I breathe and embrace with my whole heart, since the day I learned it. It encourages us to take time to withdraw our external senses and direct them inward.
Pratyahara is a method that connects the inner and outer consciousness, so we can comprehend clearly the message from our voice within. Prati means away and ahara means, food or anything that we intake from the outside. It is considered as fasting of the senses.
Pratyahara is a way to tune in to the impulses of your subtle sensory body also known as tanmatras. By putting the external consciousness to quiet and turning your mind in, you open the bridge to access your physical and metaphysical world.
This phenomenon gives you the wisdom to discriminate between peace – which nourishes the overall self and to attachment – the blinding earthly pleasures, the root of all miseries.
A life without pratyahara practice, is like a boat cruising in the vast ocean, constantly moving with no point of direction and with no idea of its essence of existence.
In the present world, stimulating inventions have been created to give enjoyment and pleasures to human beings, which makes it harder for the external sensory to rest, because of the clingy nature of the many. These creations are so magnetic that it distracts the mind royally, making it lose its focus and clouds the sight to see the right path to the Supreme Self – whose nature is bliss.
How to cultivate pratyahara.
Practice paying more attention to the senses signals you encounter throughout the day. Stay away from the things that steals your health – like unhealthy food and unnecessary activities. Limit your encounters with anything that depletes your vitality and enthusiasm. Reduce your time in meeting people with toxic energy. Define a space where you cannot be distracted so you can create a quiet realm. Save your energy, by dedicating an hour or two of no talking – see how it invigorates you. Make time to close your eyes, suspend your inner faculty, so you can settle to silence, the first step to meditation.
Lastly, honor your thoughts, emotions and accept your progress without judgement. For in this moment, realize that you are enough.