Seven billion pairs of eyes look out on their world and believe they are seeing what is there. No two of them will see the same thing. Oh, sure, there may be agreement on the name of an object but what is attributed to that object will not be the same. This is because we are the ones giving meaning to all that surrounds us.
Pratyahara (the control or withdrawal of the senses) is one of the eight “limbs” of classic yoga as described in the authoritative work that describes yoga, The Yoga Sutras. This important book, written by Pantajali, holds in its pages much of the essence of yoga. It outlines the true path, far beyond the way most Westerners understand yoga, as mostly yoga poses and the breath. In the course of our studies, we will give focus to these lesser known aspects of yoga, most particularly dhyana, meditation. But now for a glimpse of pratyahara:
If you meditate, you may have familiarity with the sophistication of withdrawing the senses. For those new to this idea, I like to first bring attention to the senses, so that we can begin to recognize their influence, use them for our benefit, and then proceed, if we wish, to withdraw from them completely.
The Truths that emanate from so many spiritual disciplines, like yoga, lead to experiencing the world in ways not generally recognized outside of the spiritual realm. For most of us, it takes some time to realize that the world is not what it seems to be. Our rational, left brain thinking is not attuned to “seeing” in these new ways. Let’s try this:
- Look around you. “See” all that is present. Leave nothing out. Think of the names of all that you see. You had to learn these, you know, as you grew up. They were taught to you in your own language.
- As you see them, ponder any emotional reaction you have to what is around you. This too you had to learn, through experience and teaching.
- Now notice that everything you see is defined completely by you – in its name as you learned it and in your emotional reaction to it. In this sense, you created it as it is.
- Now see if you can imagine that all that you are seeing is “neutral,” without a reaction. Let everything be neutral for a while. Does this seem odd?
- Relax your eyes. Let them close. Is everything still “out there” even if you aren’t seeing with your physical eyes?
That’s all you have to do for now. Whatever you experience, just ponder it. All of this that you see seems to be outside of you. Or where is it? We are just playing with concepts. Stretching ourselves a bit. Testing reality. In time, we will consider “seeing” again.
I hope you are “seeing” these lessons as interesting, entertaining, and maybe even curious. All of that is good.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to www.deannemincer.com