Pratyahara - 5th Limb of Yoga
Classical yoga under Patanjali has 8 different "limbs" of yoga. The first "limb" is the Yamas or social contracts. The second "limb" are the Niyamas or contracts with oneself. The third "limb" is Asana or yoga poses, there are hundreds! The fourth "limb" is Pranayama or breath! The fifth limb is Pratyahara or turning inward!
In my opinion:
Pratyahara, is sense withdrawal, is changing your reality! As a human being our central computer (brain) receives its data through five channels (senses) which are sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.
The data we receive through our senses is assimilated and stored in our brains. The purpose of pratyahara is to manage this input of data for a new experience. However, if we withdraw our senses do we shut down reality?
Well, yes and maybe no!
Like our sight which only sees a small percentage of the below spectrum of energy, our senses also perhaps only see a small amount of another spectrum!
And it is from this withdrawal of the senses that brings us to a heightened state of awareness!
Withdrawal of the senses allows us to turn inside.
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." -- Buddha "Pratyahara is a bridge between the external aspects of yoga namely, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and the internal yoga. Internal yoga is the last three "limbs" of yoga: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (awareness)" --Wikipedia
We are human beings... Our five senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch and sight deliver data to enter our brains and we assimilate this info and determine our reality! But... If it cannot be smelled, tasted, heard, felt or seen then how do we know it's exists? If we withdraw our senses then we receive no data input!
A simple analogy again is the light spectrum. Our eyes see a tiny spectrum of the total light spectrum. We have invented machines that allow us to be aware of other parts of the spectrum.
The same holds true with yoga!
Our five senses only allow us to see a tiny part of the total spectrum.. Have we invented machines to see the rest?
But when we withdraw the senses it brings on into a heightened state of awareness and changes the reality.
For example, next time you are walking through a city, walk as fast as you can from point a to b. Then next time you are walking the same, walk at half the speed and see how the world changes? Another test is to use your earphones and cut out the world. Through the withdrawal of our senses we experience a different reality.
Do not call any of your friends or family for one week. See what happens, see how reality responds to you. If, however, someone wonders whether you are alive or not? Well, that warrants a response of something to the tune of "yes" and I will be back in a few days. During this time of sense withdrawal notice how your world changes. Try it -- it may turn out to be interesting!
- Try watching no T.V.
- Try not turning your lights on in your apartment or house one night.
- Try talking to a minimum for a week.
- Try putting ear buds to blackout sound for a week.
- Sit in a room with minimum light, with your eyes closed, with silence, with zero smells, and turn inside.
After we have withdrawn our senses, what is left? The sum total of everything you have experienced in your life. Simply you -- oneself! So we withdraw our senses and we are left with ourself -- hello there, self! Enjoy and then we go to concentration and meditation...