WHAT IS THE SECRET IN PRATYAHARA?
Pratyahara means focusing your attention within yourself by withdrawing your senses from exterior objects (closing the gate of your senses); thus, by focusing them on only one object, the mind becomes firmly concentrated.
This implies the development of the ability to withdraw inside yourself the energy of the five senses and to willingly withdraw the mind from the sensorial channels.
During advanced stages, Pratyahara implies the withdrawal of the mind from the process of thought and the detached observation of your activities, in a state of conscious introspection (Vairagya).
The thoughts and images that constantly appear in our mind can be divided into three categories:
1. The ones deriving from the direct contact of the senses with the exterior world;
2. The ones caused by the foresight of the future;
3. The ones caused by the remembrance of the past.
The last two categories are exclusively produced by the mind and do not depend on any exterior reality. Pratyahara aims at stopping the first category of mental fluctuations, that is, of those caused by the direct contact of the senses with the exterior world, by the means of the five sensorial channels.
Thus, Pratyahara becomes like a wall separating the sense organs from the mind. The sense organs will perceive and answer to the corresponding stimuli without generating mental fluctuations (vrittis). In this way the mind withdraws within allowing the yogi to focus on their inner world.
The yogi traditional texts define Pratyahara as the detachment from the objects of senses by focusing the attention on only one object, until the mind completely identifies with the object you focus on.
For a better understanding, you must remember that the mind of a common man follows the senses until it identifies with the object of the senses.
But, as far as Pratyahara is concerned, the senses follow the mind and their object is what it focuses upon. This focus of the senses on the object is as powerful as if this object were palpable through the senses.
The single secret in Pratyahara is will power combined with great skill and perseverant practice.
In other words, you have to use your will power to isolate your mind from exterior stimuli. In such a state, the yogi’s single area of action is exclusively his inner world. The exterior world is completely removed by their will power.
“THE SHEPARD WITH THE FLOCK OF SHEEP” MEDITATION TECHNIQUE
Stay in a comfortable position, relax deeply and try not to move from that position for as long as possible. Adjust your breathing rhythm so as to breathe deeply and rarely without any superfluous strain.
Now begin to withdraw your mind from any thoughts that appear because of exterior perceptions. This attempt inevitably shows us that the mind is a storm agitated by thoughts.
Observe them with detachment, let them come and go, without trying to influence them. Thus, the mind stays still, watching attentively but detached the thoughts just like a Shepard watching his flock of sheep grazing.
You will notice that your mind calms down as your own state of calm and stillness deepens. Great skill is needed to obtain only a few seconds of mental stillness, but this will give you much happiness. Watch vigilantly the appearance of your thoughts and increase the periods of mental stillness.
Indeed, you will obtain a powerful control over your mind when you can consciously do Pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses from their objects, or when you can attach or detach your mind from the senses at will.
Pratyahara represents the touch stone of the inner spiritual life. Once you posses it, you can control the tendencies and wishes of the mind anytime.