Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses)
Pratyahara is one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga. A yogi should learn to withdraw his senses from attraction towards objects. A spiritual aspirant’s journey to self-realization actually begins when he or she becomes adept at pratyahara. Withdrawing the senses is a stepping stone to the practice of meditation.
Practice of Pratyahara
Pratyahara installs a break on the five senses. It is very trying at first for the beginner, as it needs great perseverance and patience. But, with constant practice, one gains inner strength. The adept practitioner gains great will power. While trying to practice pratyahara, the monkey mind will break free and run like an uncontrolled bull towards sense objects. But, the yogi has to tirelessly bring back his mind and fix it on the object of concentration.
When you try to control the scattered senses and mind rays, do it gently. Ignore the thoughts that arise constantly in the mind. Withdraw the senses one after another. The mind commands the senses. Therefore, learn to disentangle the mind’s affinity towards sense pleasure. To do this, dispassion and detachment are necessary. Discrimination is also needed for attaining success in practising pratyahara.
Benefits of Pratyahara
A spiritual aspirant adept in practising pratyahara, can meditate serenely even in the midst of a tumultuous battle. Practising pratyahara aids in mind control, as your learn to manage the senses and ultimately transcend them. It helps increase attention on the object of concentration. Perfecting the technique of pratyahara helps in gaining liberation from the cycle of birth and death.