Bookmark to Stumbleupon. Give it a thumb StumbleUpon




Abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects

Considering the phrase “withdrawal of the senses” may frighten many of us. When athletes 'get into' or, 'go with' the FLOW, this is exactly what they are doing. So, put your fears aside, for the moment.

In our desire to be fully aware, our first thoughts may be to heighten our senses, rather than to withdraw them. Consider our daily lives – we are sense-driven. We hear something, or see something, or taste something, and respond, after the sensation occurs. This concept is the driving force behind some of the most well-known principles of psychology – stimulus and reaction

Pratyahara reverses that. We withdraw from responding to the stimulation by our senses, and rest in a more quiet and focused state.

If we do this diligently and long enough, we can spontaneously escape from external distractions and noise, as well as internal emotional and psychological discomfort.

Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to experience moments of Pratyahara without even being aware of its existence. It happens in moments of complete absorption, when we are occupied in a task or an area of interest that completely enthralls us.

Observe an infant in the moments of awareness of his hand. He becomes fixated on that object, and the realization that it is actually his presents itself. At this time, the infant is absorbed in the world that is now totally his hand. He has withdrawn, unconsciously, his other senses. Watch a small child. He is finger-painting. He enjoys and is enraptured with the process. He may be drooling, yet he is too old to drool. Why is he drooling? He has simply forgotten to swallow; he is totally absorbed in his finger-painting.

This happens to adults as the ultimate absorption in discovery, invention, artistic pursuit. Athletes, also, call this the “zone” and entering into it is going through the "wall." Marathon runners must attain this state by the sixteenth mile, or they will not finish. In my long-distance paddle ventures, the first day is always torture, the body wants to quit. By the second day, I can paddle forever.

However we experience it, Pratyahara is an exquisite state, in which we free ourselves from external influence and sensation, from self-imposed restrictions, and from the distractions of daily life.

In yogic practice, Pratyahara is often accomplished by focus on physical parts of the body, or the entire body.

I, recently, had surgery on my left eye and refused general anesthesia. I agreed with the surgeon that an anesthetist should stand-by. While being prepped in the surgery, I slowed my pulse and respiration rates and lowered blood pressure throug breathing practices; then went into a state of withdrawal of sense to the left eye. I was very aware of everything around me and when I heard, in the middle of this 30-minute surgery, the heart monitor giving off an alarm, I told the anesthetist not to worry, because I was controlling my pulse and blood pressure. She responded that if I was in control, I should raise my systolic pressure and increase my pulse rate, slightly. The alarm immediately stopped and the anesthetist wants me to teach her the technique.

We can continue this practice outwardly. Sitting outside, we look into the air. Or look into a tree. Water is wonderful practice for this, as well. We begin to see not the nothingness of air, or the tree as a whole, or the water as a lake, river or ocean. Our awareness actually expands – we see filaments (as I call them) in the air, the lines of the leaves of the tree, or the flow of the water.

The practice goes beyond what we actually see. We begin to hear and smell more. Yet, the noise of cars or people does not invade this space. We become connected to what we are focused on. A sensation begins to manifest itself within us. We are thrilled, open, and completely aware.

Pratyahara takes us past the mundane and begins to connect us to the Universe around us.

Any questions??