Feed Your Mind with Your Senses

Pantanjali’s fifth limb of yoga is called Pratyahara, or control and withdrawal of the senses.

Our minds are fed by our five senses. We’re stimulated by sensory visuals, sounds, tastes, or touch. We can become attached or begin to depend on them for a feeling of satisfaction, such as eating to feel full or staying busy to ward of loneliness.

The practice of Pratyahara is a subtle one. It is learning how to encourage the senses to draw inward through deep relaxation, which in turn will allow us to focus within. When we focus the senses internally, they become extraordinarily sharp and easily fall into their appropriate place, leaving our minds and emotions balanced and at peace. As our senses become accustomed to drawing inward, easing into meditation becomes the natural next step.

  • MINDFULNESS. Mindfulness is the practice of tuning into the present moment wherever we are. There are many books and speakers that explain how to develop and practice mindfulness and also how beneficial it is for our health.

Want a Happier Brain? Try Mindfulness (Huffington Post)

  • YOGA NIDRA. Nidra means sleep. Yoga nidra is a practice that maximizes the withdrawal of the senses that naturally occurs when our bodies sleep. It allows for deep relaxation and can reveal deeper layers of our consciousness.

Yoga Nidra: The Divine Art of Meditation While Sleeping (MindBodyGreen)

  • MANAS. Manas is a Sanskrit word used to describe the sensory aspects of our minds. Finding ways to see, hear, and feel beauty in its natural state is a great practice for observing and learning to control our senses. If you can’t get out into nature, try this indoors. Listen to your own heartbeat, your child’s breath in and out, or just watch how a flower sways in the wind.

Are You Suffering From a Nature Deficiency? (Positively Positive)

  • RAJAS. Rajas can be described as overstimulation. This is almost unavoidable in our modern world. This constant overstimulation can make it very difficult to relax our outer senses. If we try to meditate without first controlling our senses, it can just take that external overstimulation and turn it internal, which can cause our mind and emotions to become agitated. Maintaining a calm environment in our homes or spaces we regularly frequent can help keep our minds calm.

Calming With Color (Care2)

  • AJNA CHAKRA. Ajna chakra is often called the third-eye chakra. Focusing on this chakra can encourage our minds to focus internally. When this happens, the other senses will follow. Just because we close our eyes doesn’t mean our mind turns off. It keeps talking to us, reviewing events, and flashing scenes from our day. Tuning into our third eye is a powerful way to rein in the senses.

Inspiration & Intelligence at Ajna Chakra (Elephant Journal)

We’ve reached Week 5 on our exploration through Pantanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga! If you want to catch up on the last four weeks, you can find them here:

Week 1: Yama
Week 2: Niyama
Week 3: Asana
Week 4: Pranayama

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photo by: Réno