What is pratyahara? It is the withdrawal of our senses. Our senses govern us and influence us in every which way. They are the tools of communication with ourselves internally and externally. Pratyahara is what we all have to learn in order to recharge ourselves.
Pratyahara is derived from two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. Prati which means to step away and ahara which means food (external stimuli) that stimulates our thoughts, feeling and emotions. An interesting description of pratyahara is starving your senses and therefore it is a sensory fast. Let us attend to our Indriyas (organs of perception). Pratyahara, is control of our sense organs.
Visual pratyahara is visual perception
We keep our eyes open as they are our most dominant senses. Gaze at a Chakra, Mandal, Yantra, picture of a deity. Concentrate upon it and when your eyes are tired, close your eyes. See the visual in front of your closed eyes. Only see it and when it fades away, again gaze at the object. Do this for ten minutes. Now move to auditory pratyahara, which is listening to the sense of sound. Concentrate closely on all the sounds. Let your sense of hearing operate like a crazy person. Hear everything, the loudest sound, the softest sound, identify who or what is making the sounds. The only restriction is that you are using your auditory perception. Give it ten minutes.
Smell, taste, feel
Now go to the olfactory pratyahara. Work on your sense of smell. Use it like a sniffer dog. Smell all the odours, be they fragrant or rotten. No interaction, just focus on the smells. Ten minutes again. Now we go to the gustatory function. Taste, conjure the different tastes. There is a fruit called the durian which smells like rotting flesh and it’s considered a delicacy. You cannot travel with this fruit on a flight. Feel the taste of your most favourite and hated food. Ten minutes again. Now go the tactile perception, sense of touch. Touch conjures up so many emotions. It brings a feeling of warmth and closeness. Touch can also conjure memories of pain and violence. No hesitation in unleashing all the sensations of touch. Ten minutes again.
Practicing Pratyahara with our eyes open is way easier for many of us. Especially if we are depressed. When we are adept at the sadhana we can see what is happening with our senses. Our senses are always functioning. In fact the poor dears are working overtime. They are working with our thoughts, and the greedy thoughts are gorging themselves on our impressions. By becoming aware and not suppressing the stimuli, we are able to refresh ourselves and look at life with an unbiased perception. Also you can practice your sadhana anywhere.
Aim Hrim Klim