PRATYAHARA – role of the Senses

Pratyahara – the word means restraint, withdrawal or detachment.
Regarding Yoga practice it refers to the ability to withdraw consciousness from the dictatorship of the senses at will. The classical definition is that Pratyahara is ‘a restraint from acceptance of the food of the senses.’

Detachment applies to the aspirant’s attitude to worldly and material things, in order that he may attach himself completely, in the spiritual sense, to God. It in no way should be interpreted as an indifference to things of the earth.

It is obvious that the senses can produce distractions for the mind and can even weaken the will unless one is willing to prove the mind superior to the impulses and waywardness of sensory habits. Pratyahara can be directly related to a need to improve concentration by overcoming sensory distractions. Beyond this basic need, the aspirant aims to withdraw awareness from the material world in order to increase his perception of the spiritual or non-physical spheres. The usual five senses need to be subdued as a prelude to meditation when the extra sensory mechanism or intuitive sense begins to function.

The first discipline of a student is to develop each of the senses in a balanced manner. Only when the 5 senses are observed, developed, then controlled to come under the direction of the mind can an impartial state of detachment be claimed. This will ensure that there is no undue accent upon any of them to cause any bias or distortion to one’s impressions from the outside world, which we seek to register as clearly and truthfully as possible. In seeking truth, it is usually the senses which offer the first distortion or diversion from truth or Reality.

Pratyahara is practised for relaxation purposes in the position known as Savasana.
A degree of pratyahara is necessary before being able to apply mental concentration which in turn precedes meditation. It is often practised in the body position known as the Yoni Mudra. In this follow the directions of your teacher or Guru.


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