14 Oct Monthly Focus | Pratyahara | October 2016
The senses are employed by the mind, and because of the senses the mind ordinarily remains self-indulgent and forms bad habits. In chapter five verse 8 in the Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Rama, the commentary shapes the image of how a yogi can use pratyahara; a person who can perform their mundane tasks, such as seeing, hearing, sensing, touching, tasting, speaking, being alone, and being with others and can remain non-attached is a great person. The senses function, but the owner of the senses does not get involved.
Pratyahara is to control the senses so the attachments that we have do not guide our behaviors. The first part of practice is feeling and observing the emotions that arise from these senses: seeing, hearing, sensing, touching, tasting, speaking, being alone, and being with others. Once the observation and awareness has been established, letting go of the senses can take place. Example, have you ever got to that point where you want to scream, “ I can’t take it any more!”? Then you can sit, focus on your breath and the outside world pass over you. This is pratyahara.