Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The two ways we experience happiness by Atman Nityananda

Our essential nature is happiness - Ramana Maharshi
The two ways we experience happiness
by Atman Nityananda 
Freedom, peace and happiness is what we really are, our true nature, but due to the ego and the desire-mechanism which cloud our buddhi (intellect-intelligence) we do not realize it. 

´´Happiness lies deep within us, in the very core of our being. Happiness does not exist in any external object, but only in us, who are the consciousness that experiences happiness. Though we seem to derive happiness from external objects or experiences, the happiness that we thus enjoy in fact arises from within us.´´  - Sri Ramana Maharshi
Happiness always comes from within our heart, is an innate attribute of our true nature or consciousness, but we do not experience it because our mind is always outgoing, agitated and we are always in a state of emotional turmoil.
Attention! The experience of happiness is depended only on the condition of mind. We imagine that happiness is related with the experience of objects and the fulfillment of desires. We can experience peace and happiness only when the mind is calm, concentrated and rests in its source, the Atman, (Consciousness) which shines eternally in our heart. This may happen consciously and voluntarily or unconsciously by chance. On the other hand when the mind is agitated, extroverted and distracted we fail to experience happiness; we experience pleasant or unpleasant sensations, pleasure or some kind of suffering, of which the intensity depends on the intensity of the mental and emotional turmoil.
´´The degree of happiness that we experience at any moment is directly proportionate to the degree of clarity with which we are then conscious of our true and essential being.´´  - Sri Ramana Maharshi
The desires, emotions, impulses, thought patterns keep almost always the mind extroverted, uneasy, distracted and restless and the prana (vital energy) agitated and contracted. The agitated and turbulent by desires, emotions and impulses mind fails to reflect the happiness of our true Self and instead of it we experience some kind of discomfort, pain or suffering.
How do we experience happiness through sensory experiences?
When a desire is granted and we enjoy the object of desire we experience some kind of pleasant sensation, pleasure and satisfaction and in many cases and at some extend contentment and happiness.

When a desire is fulfilled and we enjoy the desired object there is no separation between us and the object and thus all mental and emotional agitation (fantasies, imaginations, projections, expectations, anxiety, agony, fear, impatience etc.) for the time being subside. Thus the mind for a while becomes calm, concentrated and introverted. In this mental state the mind naturally reflects the happiness of our inner Self or Consciousness. But we do not recognize it because the ego (with the aid of tamas guna) puts a veil on this process and thus we unconsciously associate the happiness with the object. We think that happiness comes from the object itself or at least that depends on the object. This has as a result we to condition our subconscious to seek happiness through similar experiences and in general through objective experiences.

It is certain that due to the fulfillment of desires we can experience some kind of pleasure and a little happiness (not always), but at the same time due to desire-energy we cannot avoid to experience a lot of psychological suffering. It is a fact that we cannot have desires and pleasures without experiencing suffering, because all psychological disorders, defects and negative emotions are only modifications of the desire-energy The desire (which is a very powerful energy and impulse) has a dense vibration which in itself is experienced as discomfort or suffering (depends on the power of its expression) and this suffering intensifies much more when something obscures the fulfilment of desire; in his case the desire-energy modifies as anger, impatience, fear, agony, irritation, depression etc.. The intensity of these negative emotions is analogous to the intensity of desire.

There is no way to free ourselves from the painful effects of desire if we always try to fulfil them. By doing so we only temporarily relieve the mental and emotional tension created by desire and we experience some kind of illusory pleasurable sensation. But by fulfilling any desire that may arise in us we only empower the desire-mechanism and the desire-energy and thus we empower our bondage and suffering.

The desire by nature is never satisfied and always creates in us a sense of lack, of incompleteness, that something is missing, of uneasiness and discontentment (which is also another way that desire makes us suffer) in order to drive us towards another pleasurable experience. Thus a vicious circle is created by desire. This is consisted of: desiring (which is also suffering, experiencing pleasure and some time happiness and suffering; this wheel created by desire never ends. 

´´The transient happiness that we seem to derive from external experiences, but which actually arises only from within ourself, is in reality nothing other than our own essential being.

The more clearly we are conscious of our own essential being, the more deeply and intensely do we experience happiness.´´

  Sri Ramana Maharshi
The spiritual way to experience happiness 
On the other hand, there is another way to enjoy the happiness of our true Self, without to suffer the painful consequences of desire. This is the spiritual way. By purification, control of senses and mind, discernment, detachment, meditation and self-inquiry we can consciously free our mind from the desire-energy and dwell without a break in our heart and experience the peace and bliss of our own divine being or Atman.
There is no doubt that this process requires time and a steady devotion to practice regularly and diligently. But at the end the boon will be the freedom from suffering and the endless experience of pure peace and bliss.
If via spiritual practices we eliminate from our psych the psychological virus (ego), the desires and all defects and negative emotions, we will be totally free from all kind of suffering and we always experience the peace, bliss and freedom of our Soul
Remember that the ego and the desire are our true enemy and not the objects themselves. When we are free from ego and desire we see in all objects the Atman which is the substratum and the source of all forms; we are not attached to the objects, we do not desire the objects, we do not react with like or dislike, with attraction or repulsion and thus we remain centred in our innermost Self, our divine essence, always blissful and peaceful. This is our destiny and our eternal home.
God bless you realize your true nature in this life and be free forever!
Peace, Love and Light

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pratyahara (abstraction or withdrawal of the senses) By Sri Swami Sivananda

(abstraction or withdrawal of the senses)

By Sri Swami Sivananda  

Pratyahara is abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects. The senses are held in check by this practice.

Sri Swami Sivananda  

Real inner life begins when the aspirant is established in this practice. That Yogic student who jumps at once to the practice of meditation without practising abstraction is a deluded soul. He will have no success in contemplation. 

Pratyahara checks the outgoing tendencies of the senses. It puts a break, as it were, on the senses. Pratyahara follows automatically the practice of Pranayama. When the life-force is controlled by the regulation or restraint of breath, the senses become thinned out. They are starved to death. They get emaciated. They cannot hiss now when they come in contact with the objects.

Pratyahara is a trying discipline. It is disgusting in the beginning but later on it becomes very interesting. You will feel immense inner strength. It demands considerable patience and perseverance. It will give you tremendous power. You will develop immense will-power. 

During the course of practice, the senses will run again and again like a wild bull towards objects. You will have to withdraw them again and again and fix the mind on the Lakshaya (point of concentration). 

That Yogi who is well established in the practice of Pratyahara can meditate quite calmly even in the battlefield when countless machine-guns are fired.

In the practice of Pratyahara you will have to drag the outgoing senses again and again from the sensual objects and fix the mind on your Lakshya point of concentration), just as the cart-driver drags the impetuous bulls and fixes them to the yoke. 

You must take particular care to drag the senses gently. Some aspirants draw them vehemently. That is the reason why they experience a little headache sometimes.

You should practise withdrawal of the senses one by one. dealing with the most turbulent senses in order. If you try to manipulate all the senses at one time, you will fail.

Mind is the commander-in-chief. The senses are the soldiers. The senses cannot do anything without the co-operation of the mind. If you can disconnect the mind from the senses, there will be abstraction of the senses automatically.

If one has intense Vairagya (dispassion indiferrense for enjoyment of objects), practice of Pratyahara will be easy. Dispassion is the enemy of the senses. Some Yogic students practise Pratyahara for 2 or 3 years and yet do not attain success, the simple reason being that they have not yet fully annihilated the cravings and lurking desires. They get themselves attached to some sensual objects.

Discrimination (viveka) helps a great deal in attaining success in Pratyahara.

A Raja Yogi practises Pratyahara deliberately. 

A Bhakta (a devotee of God) does not practise Pratyahara. He tries to get himself drowned in the Prem of the Lord. He attempts to fix his mind either at His lotus feet or charming face. Consequently he gets established in Pratyahara. 

Pratyahara is abstraction. It is the withdrawal of the Indriyas from the objects. The senses are assimilated in the mind which is rendered pure through the practice of Yama, Niyama and Pranayama. The mind becomes more calm now. The nature of the Indriyas is to have always connection with the objects. Where the vision is turned outward (Bahirmukha Vritti), the rush of fleeting events engages the mind. The outgoing energies of the mind begin to play. When they are obstructed by the practice of Pratyahara, the other course for them is to mix with the mind and to be absorbed in the mind. The mind will not assume any form of any object. Hitherto, the Indriyas were following the mind like the other bees which follow the queen bee. Just as the bees fly as the queen bee flies, and sit as it sits down, so also, the Indriyas become restrained as the mind is restrained.
Pratyahara itself is termed as Yoga, as it is the most important Anga in Yoga Sadhana. This is the fifth rung in the Yogic ladder. The first four rungs deal with ethical training and purification of body, mind and Nadis. Now with Pratyahara, proper Yoga begins which eventually culminates in Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. 

Hence in Kathopanishad also in Part VI, Sloka 11, you will find: That firm control of the senses, they regard as Yoga. Again in the same Upanishad it is stated in Part IV, Sloka 1: The Self-existent created the senses outgoing, therefore, one sees outside and not the Atman within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away from their object, desirous of immortality, sees the Atman within.

Control of Indriyas (senses)

Indriyas, A Prolongation Of The Mind

Indriyas are objectified desires. Will to see is the eye. Will to hear is the ear. The Indriyas (senses) have two states, static and dynamic. When the desire begins to operate, the Indriyas are put in motion. This is the dynamic state. As soon as the desire is gratified, the Indriyas shrink through Tripti (satisfaction). This is the static or passive state.

Mind and Indriyas are one. Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. The sea is fed by the rivers; the sea cannot exist without the rivers. Even so, mind is fed by Indriyas and cannot exist without Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind. Indriya is another name for mind.

Mind is a mass of Indriyas. Mind is a higher power than the Indriyas. Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Just as a minister obeys the king, so also, the five Jnana-Indriyas act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Indriyas represent backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. The desire in the mind to walk has manifested itself as legs and feet. If you can control mind, you can control the Indriyas.

Eyes can only see. Ears can only hear. Tongue can only taste. Skin can only touch. Nose can only smell. But, the mind can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Mind is the common sensory. The five senses are blended there. It can directly see, hear, smell, taste and feel independent of the senses. It is an aggregate of the five senses. All the sense-faculties are blended in the mind. You can see and hear directly through the mind by Yogic practice (clairvoyance and clairaudience). This blows out the Western psychological theory of perception.
Mind is termed the sixth sense: "Manah shashthanindri-yani-the senses of which mind is the sixth" (Gita, XV-7). The five senses are the five Jnana-Indriyas (organs of knowledge, sensation or perception).

Ayatana means mind (Chhandogya Upanishad, IV-vii) which is the substratum of the experiences of all other organs. Senses cannot do anything, if the mind is not connected with them. When you are wholly absorbed in the study of an interesting newspaper, you do not hear when your friend loudly calls you. You are not aware that the clock has struck five. It is everybody's daily experience. The mind was away at that time. It was not then connected with the sense of hearing. The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there.

Sister Indriyas

Nose and anus are sister Indriyas. They are born of the same Prithvi-Tanmatra, nose from the Sattvic portion, anus from the Rajasic portion. These two Indriyas are the least mischievous. The olfactory sense and the olfactory nerve do not trouble you much. They can be controlled very easily.

Tongue and genitals are born of Jala-Tanmatra, the former from the Sattvic portion and the latter from the Rajasic portion. They are sister Indriyas. Eating strengthens the reproductive Indriyas.

Eye and feet are of Agni-Tanmatra, eye from the Sattvic Amsa (portion), feet from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister Indriyas. Eye likes to see 'sights'. Her sisters, feet, say, "We are ready to take you to the Kumbha Fair at Allahabad. Be ready."
Skin and hands are born of Vayu-Tanmatra, skin from the Sattvic Amsa and hands from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister organs. Skin says, "I want silk and other smooth articles for my enjoyment." Her sister, hand, says, "I can feel through my tactile corpuscles. I shall get for you fine soft silk. Do not be afraid, my dear sister."

Speech and ear are born of the same Akasa-Tanmatra, ear from the Sattvic Amsa and speech from the Rajasic Amsa. They are sister Indriyas. They help each other in the economy of Nature.

In a bungalow you will find two gates, one for entrance, another for exit. Our body is also a nice bungalow for the Lord. Eyes and ears are entrance gates for the reception of forms and sounds. These are avenues of sense-knowledge (sight and hearing). Upastha Indriya (organ of reproduction) and Guda (anus, organ of excretion) are exit gates. They throw out urine and faeces.

Tongue, The Most Difficult To Control

The most mischievous and troublesome Indriya is the generative organ. Then comes tonqueThen comes speech. Then comes ear. Then comes eye. Control of the organ of taste is far more difficult than control of the genitals, because you have been enjoying delicious articles of food even from your very birth. Lust manifests itself just before eighteen. You indulge in sexual pleasure only for a short period in every birth. But, you have to take food even in advanced senility. Control of tongue means control of all Indriyas.

Music, cinema, sight-seeing are enjoyed in human births only. Ants and rats do not enjoy cinema-show. The Indriya of sight is not so powerful as the tongue.

The organ of sight serves as a loving comrade to the organ of taste. The mind is at once tickled at the sight of a yellow colour of the mango. The eyes see a beautiful mango and the different dishes that are served on the table. At once, the glosso-pharyngeal nerves are stimulated. You get good appetite and relish. The food is rendered more palatable. A blind man may not have as good a relish as a man with sharp sight has.

Object Of Sadhana; to Prevent Externalisation By The Indriyas

The three organs of eye, ear and tongue externalise the mind and make a man altogether worldly. Eyes and ears are the avenues of sense-knowledge or Vritti-Jnana. Close the eyes. Shut the ears either with balls of cotton or balls of cotton beaten with yellow bee's wax or with the two thumbs making Yoni-Mudra. Now you have destroyed two-fifths of the world. Do not allow anything to enter the mind through these two doors of sense-knowledge.

The object of Sadhana is to internalise the mind by introspection or Antarmukha Vritti and to realise the Truth within yourself. Control the three organs of eye, ear and tongue. Then you can bring the mind under discipline and prevent the mental energy from flowing externally. These organs are the main causes of making the mind restive. Control over them helps the purpose of concentrating the energy internally.

He is a real Kshatriya (warrior) who wages internal war with the mind, who fights with the Indriyas, the Svabhava, through Viveka and will-force and obtains absolute mastery over the mind. He is a real Kshatriya who fights with the host of evil Samskaras and evil thoughts, the Rajasic and Tamasic, by awakening and increasing the Sattva Guna. He is a real Kshatriya whose Sastra is Will, and Astra is Viveka, whose battle-field is within, whose band is chanting of Pranava and Udgitha of the Chhandogya Upanishad and whose coat-of-arms is the three qualifications, viz., Viveka, Vairagya and Mumukshutva.

How To Control The Indriyas

There are six ways of controlling the Indriyas:
 (i) through Vichara (Self-enquiry), 
(ii) by will-force, 
(iii) by Kumbhaka (retention of breath in Pranayama), (iv) by Sama and Dama (restraint), 
(v) by Pratyahara (restraint or withdrawal of senses),
(vi) by Vairagya (dispassion) and Tyaga (Renunciation). 
Perfect control can be made only through Vichara.(Self-enquiry).

Sama and dama

Calmness of mind comes through the practice of Sama and Dama. 

You must first develop Viveka  (discrimination between the real and the unreal) and Vairagya (dispassion for the enjoyment of objects) herein and hereafter. 

Then only you will have success in the practice of Sama. Vairagya born of Viveka only will be of a lasting nature. Such a Vairagya only will be helpful to you in your spiritual practices. Karana Vairagya due to loss of property of death of wife or son will be temporary. It will be of no use to you. It is volatile like ammonia.

Dama is the control of the external organs, i.e., the organs of action or the five Karma-Indriyas, viz., organ of speech, hands, feet, genitals and the anus. 
Sama is serenity of mind produced by the constant eradication of Vasanas or desires.


Sama is serenity of mind produced by the constant eradication of Vasanas or desires. Whenever desires crop up in your mind do not try to fulfil them. Reject them through discrimination, right enquiry and dispassion. You will get tranquillity of mind and mental strength by constant practice. The mind is thinned out. The mind is checked directly from wandering. Its out-going tendencies are curbed. If the desires are eradicated, the thoughts also will die by themselves. The mind is detached from the manifold sense objects by continually observing their defects and is fixed on Brahma.

Sama is calmness of mind induced by the eradication of Vasanas. Vasana-tyaga (renunciation of desires) through discrimination constitutes the practice of Sama, one of the sixfold virtues (Shadsampatti). If a desire arises in your mind, do not give way to it. This will become the practice of Sama. Sama is keeping the mind in the heart by Sadhana. Sama is restraint of the mind by not allowing it to externalise or objectify. The restraint of the external activities and the Indriyas is the practice of Dama (Bahyavritti-nirodha).

If you renounce the desire for eating mangoes, it is Sama. If you do not allow the feet to carry you to the bazaar to purchase the mangoes, if you do not allow the eyes to see the mangoes and if you do not allow the tongue to taste them, it is Dama.

A desire arises to eat sweets. You do not allow the feet to move to the bazaar to purchase the sweets. You do not allow the tongue to eat the sweets. You do not allow the eyes to see the sweets also. This kind of restraint of the Indriyas is termed Dama.

It is termed Sama when you do not allow any thought to arise in the mind concerning sweets by eradication of Vasanas (Vasana-tyaga). This eradication of the Vasanas can be accomplished through Vichara, Brahma-chintana, Japa, Dhyana, Pranayama, etc.

Sama is an internal restraint. Dama is a restraint of the Indriyas. Though the practice of Sama includes the practice of Dama, as the Indriyas will not move and work without the help of the mind, yet the practice of Dama is necessary. The practice of Dama should go hand in hand with Sama. Sama alone will not suffice. You must attack the enemy, desire, from within and without. Then alone you can control the mind quite easily. Then alone the mind will be in perfect control.

In the practice of Sama, the five Jnana-Indriyas or organs of knowledge, viz., ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose are also controlled.


Dama is rational control of the senses. Dama is the control of the five organs of  knowledge (eyes, nose, ears, tonque, touch) and the five organs of action or the five Karma-Indriyas, viz., organ of speech, hands, feet, genitals and the anus and the external instruments, the organs are withdrawn and fixed in their respective centres.

The eyes run outside to see a beautiful object. If you at once withdraw the eyes from that object, it is called Dama. You should restrain the other Indriyas also by the practice of Dama.

Some say, Practice of Dama is not necessary. It is included in Sama. The Indriyas cannot work independently. They can work only in conjunction with the mind. If the mind is checked, the Indriyas will come under control automatically.

The mind will come under control very easily if Dama also is practised. It is a double attack on the enemy from within and without. He is crushed or subdued soon. If the front and back doors are closed simultaneously, the enemy is caught quite readily. There is no escape for him on any side. by practice of Dama you do not allow either the Indriyas or the mind to come in contact with the objects. You do not allow the mind to come through the external instrument, viz., the eye, to assume the form of the object. 

In neophytes the mind never remains self-centred despite rigorous practice of Sama. It tries to run outside towards external objects. If Dama is also practised, it will be of immense help to curb the mind efficiently. If you tie the hands of a mischievous boy, he tries to do mischief with the feet. If his feet, also are tied he keeps quiet. Sama corresponds to the tying of the hands and Dama to the tying of the feet. Therefore the practice of Dama is also necessary.

Dama is a practice of a student of Jnana Yoga. Pratyahara corresponds to the practice of Dama. Pratyahara is the practice of a Raja Yogi. In the former it follows the practice of Sama; in the latter it follows the practice of Pranayama. In the former the Indriyas are withdrawn by calming or restraining the mind; in the latter the Indriyas are withdrawn by restraining the Prana. The Indriyas can be withdrawn more effectively by the process of double withdrawal, by withdrawing the mind and the Prana at the same time. It is the mind that moves the Indriyas. It is the Prana that vivifies or energises or galvanises the Indriyas. Sama and Dama are strictly speaking Raja Yogic practicDama

More about Dama

Dama is restraint of the Indriyas. Dama blunts the Indriyas. Perfect control of the senses is not possible through Dama alone. If the senses are very sharp and acute, they carry away the minds of even good Sadhakas impetuously, just as the gale carries away the ship in stormy weather (Gita, II-67). They can be controlled perfectly through the help of the mind, through Vichara.

When you walk along Mount Road, Madras, each Indriya tries its level best to get hold of its objects of enjoyment and revelry. The Indriyas revolt vehemently if you do not procure them these objects. Tongue drags you to the coffee hotel or Hotel de Angelis. Tvak (skin) says, "Let me go to the Bombay Sait's shop and have a piece of fine China silk." Ear says, "Let me have a gramophone or harmonium." Nose says, "Let me have a bottle of Otto de Rose." The mind is at the bottom of these Indriyas to instigate. A tumultuous internal fight goes on between the five organs of knowledge, each trying to have a lion's share of enjoyment. Use Viveka, power of discrimination, always. Indriyas tempt and deceive you. Indriyas are the jugglers. Maya spreads her Moha-Jala through mind and Indriyas. Be on the alert.

 Practise Dama through Vairagya and Vasana-Tyaga. Happiness comes through calmness of Indriyas, through calmness of mind (Uparati). Go to the sweets' bazaar with plenty of money in hand. Walk hither and thither for fifteen minutes. Look with a greedy eye at the various sweets. Do not purchase anything. Return home. Even if dainties are served that day at home, reject them. Have a plain diet. By so doing, you will control the tongue which is at the root of all troubles. You will eventually control the mind also. You will develop will-power.

Give up all luxurious food and all articles of sensuous enjoyment. Practise rigid penance. Tapas thins out the Indriyas and eventually leads to control of mind. If you give up tea, you have really controlled a small portion of the mind; control of tongue really means control of mind.


When the Indriyas give up the objects, they take up the form of the mind-stuff. They are drawn into the mind. This is termed Pratyahara or abstraction. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from their respective objects, it is Indriya-Pratyahara. Mental abstraction takes place when the mind is disconnected with the Indriyas. Pratyahara is a general, broad term which includes Dama also. The effect of Dama (restraint of Indriyas) is Pratyahara.

If you can do consciously Pratyahara at will, consciously attaching and detaching the mind to and from the senses, you have gained really a great control over the mind. You can check at any time the outgoing tendencies or outgoing forces of the mind. 

Pratyahara is the stepping-stone to inner spiritual life. He who has succeeded in Pratyahara can concentrate his mind quite readily for a very long time. Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation) come automatically if Pratyahara is perfect. 

An aspirant has to struggle hard to have mastery over Pratyahara. Perfect Vairagya (dispassion) is indispensable for success in Pratyahara. You can succeed after strenuous and incessant struggle for some years. "Tatah parama vasyatendriyanam-Thence arises the supreme control of the organs" (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, II-55). If Pratyahara is perfect, all the organs are under perfect control.

During the period of Sadhana, do not mix much; do not talk much; do not walk much; do not eat much; do not sleep much. Observe carefully the five 'do-nots'. Mixing will cause disturbances in the mind. Talking much will cause distraction of the mind. Walking much causes exhaustion and weakness. Eating much induces Alasya and Tandri (laziness and sleepiness).

Control of Thought-A Great Desideratum

If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Indriyas are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha. Indriyas cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Indriyas means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Indriyas also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable-a great desideratum for all.

Remember Your Original Home

O Mind! Do not ruin yourself by keeping company with the senses and their objects. Enough. Enough. Now get yourself concentrated on Brahma-Svarupa. That is your original home. That is your real, happy home. Remember this constantly when you chant OM. Brahmakara or Akhandakara Vritti will arise thereby. Svarupa is your original home. I have to repeat this again and again, as you always forget your real nature. You have taken your birth from Svarupa. Now, go back to your original home or birth-place through the help of Brahmakara Vritti generated by constant Nididhyasana (profound and constant meditation), through Mahavakya-Anusandhana or Chintana (enquiry into or thinking on the deep and real significance of the great sentence "Tat Tvam Asi" or "Aham Brahmasmi"). Then the Avidya (nescience) will be destroyed and you will be free from all kinds of miseries and pain and will attain the Paramananda state (highest knowledge coupled with infinite bliss). When the Svarupakara Vritti arises, all your vain Sankalpas will vanish. You will reach the Turiya state with Sahajananda (bliss which is your very nature). Then, O mind, you will be free from birth and death. You will no longer have to enter again this filthy house of physical body. You will not be clothed again by flesh and bone. You will be merged in Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman, your Adhishthana or repository!

Falling in love with the Divine / Atman Nityananda

Falling in love with the Divine

When you are falling in love with someone, you are  so happy so  joyful, you love everything, you are happy with everything, you are  content and satisfied, but this pass away very quickly.

But when you are falling in love with God and your mind merges in Him your happiness becomes infinite Bliss, you are ever satisfied and peaceful, your heart is full of God's love and this nectar of divine love and blissful ecstasy never leaves you,  for it is eternal and imperishable !

May God bless you fall in love divine and drink the nectar of immortal Bliss.!

Forget, remember and live the peace and bliss eternal by Atman Nityanada

Forget, remember and live the peace and bliss !

To desire the illusion instead of the Truth is a tremendous deception created by the ego. To lose the infinite for the finite it is the greatest folly. To forget your eternal and blissful Self for the sake of trifling desires for illusory pleasures is really a suicide.

Do not waste your time thinking and doubting compulsive and mechanically.

Practice, practice ... do not miss even a moment without practicing.

Arise, stand up and move on, be vigilant and alert! Disidentify your attention from thoughts, emotions, impulses, desires and sensory objects and focus it in your original source, your true Self within that shines eternally in your heart.

Forget ... Forget all objects and remember your own inmost Being, the Atman, the center without center, the  luminous  silent space, ever peaceful and blissful.
Remember  yourself (the Atman or Consciousness), be aware of yourself and dive deeper and deeper into yourself and live here and now and forever the peace and bliss eternal.

God bless you free yourself from the ego in this very life and live the bliss and peace eternal!

Peace, Love and Light

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Purify, meditate and realize your true Self by Atman Nityananda

Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize
~ Swami Sivananda
Purify, meditate and realize your true Self

Enlightenment or Liberation is just a question of intense longing. It is a matter of firm aspiration and constant practice to free your mind from ego and desires and enjoy the eternal peace and bliss of your true Self or Atman

 If you practice regularly, with devotion, courage, faith, self-confidence, determination, perseverance and patience there is no doubt you that you will succeed. There is no doubt about this!

I want to do it! I can do it! I will do it!
This has to be your moto!

It doesn't matter if you fall a thousand or a million times. Stand up and move on with double determination and strength. The whole universe is going to help you realize the Truth or God consciousness and express the divine love,  peace and harmony in this world. There is no doubt about this!

Purify your mind, practice diligently and realise that you are eternal existence, pure consciousness and bliss without limits.

God bless you realise the Truth in this very life!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Happiness Is Within por Swami Sivananda

Happiness Is Within

Man wants happiness. He shuns pain. He moves heaven and earth to get the happiness he wants from sensual objects and gets himself entangled in the inextricable meshes of Maya. Poor man! He does not know that these objects are perishable and evanescent, finite and conditioned in time, space and causation. And what is more, he fails to get the desired happiness from them.

This world is imperfect (Apurna) and there is uncertainty of life. A barrister-at-law talks at the telephone, ascends the staircase to take his meals and, alas, while ascending he dies on the staircase. Such instances are not uncommon to you all. 

There is not an iota of happiness in objects, because they are insentient (Jada). Even the sensual pleasure is a reflection of Atmic Bliss only. Just as a dog that sucks a dry bone in the street imagines foolishly that blood is oozing out of the dry bone, whereas blood is really oozing from its own palate, so also worldly-minded people foolishly imagine that the happiness they enjoy in everyday life comes from objects only. 

You can find eternal, infinite, supreme peace and bliss only in your Atma which shines in all its splendour and glory in the chambers of your heart. It is an embodiment of Bliss (Ananda Swarupa). 

There is mental uneasiness, dissatisfaction, discontentment and restlessness even in multimillionaires and kings. Some kind of sorrow, misery or pain is invariably present even when they are in the height of enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Show me a man who is perfectly happy? When the marriage of his second son is being celebrated, the remembrance of the death of his first son who passed away only sometime ago torments his mind. 

Mind is so constituted that the rhythm of pleasure and pain is kept up like the rhythm of systole and diastole of the heart. You entertain the fear that the happiness will pass away soon, when you are in happy surroundings. This adds pain, when you are in the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. Even if you remove the pain by some means or other, it again manifests in some form or other such as loss of property, disease, death, hostility and disappointment. 

There is no hope of immortality by means of riches. Such indeed is the emphatic and irrefutable declaration of the Upanishads. "Na karmana na prajayana dhanena tyagenaike amritatvamanasuh - Neither by rituals, nor by progeny, nor by riches but by renunciation alone one can attain immortality." 

Mere giving up of objects will not constitute real renunciation. Dear friends, remember this point well. True renunciation (Tyaga) consists in renouncing egoism, "I-ness," "mine-ness," selfishness, desires and cravings of all sorts. 

For all beings a human birth is verily difficult to attain, more so with a male body. It is said that there are three things which are rare indeed and are due to the grace of God viz., a human birth, the longing for liberation and the protecting care of a perfected sage. The man who having by some virtuous actions done in previous births obtained a human birth with a male body and a good intellect to boot is foolish enough not to exert for Self-Realization verily commits suicide, for he kills himself by clinging to things unreal. 

You will now ask me the pertinent question : "Why should I realize the Atman?" I say because Self-Realization gives you freedom from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths with its concomitant evils. Hear the emphatic declaration of the Upanishads: "This Atman (Self) which is free from sin, undecaying, undying, free from sorrow, hunger and thirst, with true desires and true resolves-that is what is to be sought after, and which one must wish to understand; one who has sought after his Self and understand It, obtains all worlds and all desires." (Chhandogya Upanishad). 

Hear again the forcible utterances of the same Chhandogya Upanishad: "Yo vai Bhuma tat sukham na alpe sukham asti, bhumaiva sukham bhuma tveva vijijnasitavyah. - The infinite (the Great) is bliss. There is no bliss in what is small (finite). The Infinite alone is Bliss. But one should wish to understand the Infinite." 

Every man in this world is restless, discontented and dissatisfied. He feels that he is in want of something, the nature of which he does not really understand. He seeks, in the accomplishment of ambitious projects, the rest and peace that he feels he is in need of. But he finds to his great sorrow and disappointment that worldly greatness when secured is a delusion and a snare. He does not find any happiness in it. He gets coveted degrees, diplomas, titles, honours, power, position, name and fame; he marries; he begets beautiful babies; in short, he gets all that he supposes would give him happiness. But yet he finds no real rest and peace. 

Pious men, saints, sages, Acharyas and prophets are never tired of saying that this restlessness of every man, this state of discontentment, dissatisfaction and uncomfortableness of being ill at ease with himself and his environments is solely due to the loss of the companionship of the partner of his soul, who is ever eternally shining in the chambers of your heart, who is ready to embrace you with outstretched hands, if you really care to see Him and if you are really spiritually thirsty and hungry. 

One anna (cent) of pleasure is mixed with fifteen annas of pain. Pleasure that is mixed with pain, fear and worry is no pleasure at all. If you carefully begin to analyze this one anna of pleasure also, it will dwindle into an airy nothing. You will find that it is a mere play of the mind. O man! Wake up. Open your eyes. Develop Viveka (discrimination, discernment). You cannot get the real happiness from finite objects. 

Nitya, Nirupadhika, Niratisaya Ananda (eternal, infinite Bliss) that is independent of objects can be had only in the Immortal Spirit or Atma or Soul or Brahman, the Indweller of your heart. Therefore shun all external things ruthlessly and run to the Feet of the Lord. Develop Vairagya( dispassion). Vairagya is the rock-bottom foundation for the spiritual path. 

Why do men run after the sensual pleasures? What is their concept of happiness? Do Samskaras ( impressions stored in the subconscious mind) force them to repeat the same sensual acts again and again? Is man a mere creature of environment or circumstance? Can he not obliterate his Samskaras by effective and suitable means? 

On account of ignorance man runs hither and thither to seek happiness in objects. A little ginger bread and some sweetmeats, a son and a young wife, some position and power and a little money in the bank to boot will fill his heart with joy and calm down his nerves. That is all he wants.
Bliss of Atma, supersensuous Ananda and Peace, spiritual ecstasy and knowledge are unknown to him. He does not want them. Nay, he dislikes them. He hates people who talk about higher and sublime things. Believe me, mancan obliterate his Samskaras by Purushartha (right exertion). He is not a creature of environment or circumstance. He is the master of his destiny. 

Amidst the din and boisterous bustle of worldly activities, there do come moments of tranquillity and peace, when the mind for the time being, however short it may be, soars above the filthy worldly things and reflects on the higher problems of life viz., the why and wherefore of life and the riddle of the universe. Man begins to enquire: "Who am I?" The sincere enquirer becomes serious and gets absorbed in his reflections. He begins to search and understand the Truth. Discrimination dawns on him. He seeks Vairagya, concentration, meditation, and purification of the body and mind and eventually attains the highest Knowledge of Self. But the man whose mind is saturated with worldly Vasanas (desires) and materialistic poison is quite heedless and is irresistibly carried away by the two currents of Raga and Dwesha (desire or attraction and aversion) and tossed about helplessly hither and thither in the tumultous Samsaric stream of worldly concerns. 

Ah! How uncertain is sensual life in this world! If you constantly think of the transitory nature of sensual pleasure and its concomitant evils viz., miseries, worries, troubles, tribulations, anxieties and premature death, then you will slowly develop Vairagya. The Vairagya that comes momentarily is due to the loss of either wife, relation, friend, son or property; this will not help you much in the spiritual path. What is really wanted is Vairagya born of discrimination or Viveka. 

In the presence of sensual pleasure, spiritual bliss cannot exist, just as darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. Therefore show extreme contempt for worldly objects. Destroy all desires. Turn the mind away from the sensual objects. You will develop Vairagya. 

You yourself have made your life complex and intricate. You have entangled yourself in this quagmire of Samsara. You have multiplied your wants and desires. Everyday you are forging an additional link to the chain of bondage. Simplicity has vanished. Luxurious habits and ways of living are embraced. No wonder there is unemployment everywhere. People are dying of starvation. There is depression in trade. There is unrest everywhere. There is wholesale devastation by earthquake. Divorce courts are also multiplying. One nation is afraid of another nation. One nation suspects that other nations are preparing for a big war. Life has thus become a matter of uncertainty. It has become a mass of confusion, chaos and bewilderment. It has become stormy and boisterous. It is full of under-currents, cross-currents, subterranean currents and mixed currents. Is there no way of escape from these troubles and difficulties? There is only one way. Lead a life of dispassion, self-control, purity, selfless service, cosmic love. Develop the habit of taking the right point of view, right thinking, right feeling, right acting, with right mental attitude orBhav. Practice devotion and meditation. 

O Man! You have no real sustained Vairagya. Your present mental state is due to pecuniary embarrassments. This will not help you in the spiritual path. The mind will be waiting to get back the object renounced, when it gets the first opportunity. No doubt you are a man of spiritual Samskaras. But your Vairagya must be of that type that is born of pure Viveka, (Nityanitya-vastu-Viveka), discrimination between the real and the unreal. This is a rare commodity, a rare virtue, though many people feign to be in possession of the same. 

Thousands of young graduates and young doctors come to me with earthen pots in their hands and attired in orange coloured robes in quest of caves in Uttarakasi and Gangottri (places on the Himalayas of India) for deep meditation and practice of Pranayama. And some young research students in science and some Rajkumars go to the Punjab and Kashmir in silk suits with stiff collars and ties in search of girls for marriage. Is there pleasure or pain in this world? If there is pleasure, why do young educated men retire into forests? If there is pain, why do young men run after wealth, women and position? Mysterious is Maya! Mysterious  Moha (delusion)! 

Try to understand the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe. Acquire Viveka. Take recourse to  Satsang (company of enlightened masters). Enquire into the nature of the Atman. Study the Yoga-Vasishtha and the Upanishads. Then you will have a comprehensive understanding of the innumerable problems of life. There is not an iota of happiness in this world. Seek the happiness within. 

Is not a kingdom valuable to be owned? Is not a summer palace in Kashmir or a pleasant garden with sweet-smelling flowers of various colours nice to live in? Is not the company of young Mabaranis with tender waists and lotus-like eyes dear as life itself, very pleasing? Yet wise, dispassionate men like Bhartrihari, Buddha, Gopichand and others retired into forests kicking all these things as worthless as straw, to realize the Self which alone can confer infinite Bliss, Immortality, and eternal Peace. 

The spirit comes and goes. Therefore you will have to be careful always in nourishing and protecting your spiritual Samskaras with burning Vairagya, intense and constant Sadhana (practice) and burning longing for liberation (Mumukshutva). You will have to increase your good Samskaras. You will have to develop them. You will have to multiply them. 

Vairagya is purely an internal mental state. A man may remain in the busy world amidst various luxuries, women and wealth, and yet he may possess perfect Vairagya, while a Sadhu who lives in a cave in the far off regions of the Himalayas may be greatly attached to his Kamandalu, walking stick or piece of cloth.

extract of his book: How to get Vairagya

Pearls for Vairagya (dispassion) by Swami Sivananda

Pearls for Vairagya (dispassion)
by Swami Sivananda 

Why do you search in vain
For pleasure outside?
Go to the fountain source
In the subjective Atman (Consciousness)
Awake, arise, stop not
Till the goal is reached.

How long you want to remain
Slave of passion, tell me please?
Try to seek peace within by vairagya (dispassion); practice (Vairagya and Abhyasa)

Are you not really fed up
With illusory objects?
Enjoy the Atmic Bliss
By Manana ( Reflection), Nididhyasana (meditation).

~~~~~~~    ~~~~~~   ~~~~~~

The world is unreal, full of miseries,
God alone is real, full of Ananda (bliss).

You are running after the unreal shadow,
You have forgotten the real substance.

You came alone (weeping), will go alone (weeping), no one will follow,
Do Bhajan, do Kirtan, this will follow,

Why do you fight in vain with your brothers? Fight with the mind and the senses.
Why do you weep in vain for the death of relatives? Weep for the separation of the Lord.

The love between husband and wife is selfish love,
Brothers, sisters are united for selfish ends.

Death is ever waiting to devour you all,
That ‘tomorrow’ will never come, open your eyes now (wake up now).

Life is short, time is fleeting, (many obstacles to Japa and kirtan),
Apply yourself diligently to Yogic Sadhana (spiritual practice).

This world is a mela for two days,
This life is a play for two seconds, (This body is a bubble for two seconds).

When one is in union with God, it is Samadhi,
The Yogi gets infinite bliss and knowledge.

Bhakti-Yoga is crossing river by boat,
Jnana-Yoga is crossing river by swimming.

A Jnani gets knowledge by self-reliance,
A Bhakta gets Darshan by self-surrender.

When there is one vritti (thought) it is Savikalpa,
When there is Triputi-Laya (when the triad seer, sight, seen merge), it is Nirvikalpa

When one is in fourth Bhumika (fourth stage of Jnana Yoga), it is Jivanmukti,
When there is no body-consciousness, it is Videhamukti.

When you are in a state of Turiya, it is Jivanmukti,
When you are in Turiyatita, it is Videhamukti.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pratyahara: the Forgotten Limb of Yoga By David Frawley

Pratyahara: the Forgotten Limb of Yoga

By David Frawley

Pratyahara itself is termed as Yoga, as it is the most important limb in Yoga Sadhana. 
~ Swami Shivananda

Yoga is a vast system of spiritual practices for inner growth. To this end, the classical yoga system incorporates eight limbs, each with its own place and function. Of these, pratyahara is probably the least known. How many people, even yoga teachers, can define pratyahara? Have you ever taken a class in pratyahara? Have you ever seen a book on pratyahara? Can you think of several important pratyahara techniques? Do you perform pratyahara as part of your yogic practices? Yet unless we understand pratyahara, we are missing an integral aspect of yoga without which the system cannot work.

The eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are: 

1. Yama (self-restraint), 
2. Niyama (religious observances), 
3. Asana (posture), 
4. Pranayama (restraint of breath), 
5. Pratyahara (abstraction of senses), 
6. Dharana (concentration), 
7. Dhyana (meditation) 
8. Samadhi (super-conscious state).

As the fifth of the eight limbs, pratyahara occupies a central place. Some yogis include it among the outer aspects of yoga, others with the inner aspects. Both classifications are correct, for pratyahara is the key between the outer and inner aspects of yoga; it shows us how to move from one to the other.

It is not possible to move directly from asana to meditation. This requires jumping from the body to the mind, forgetting what lies between. To make this transition, the breath and senses, which link the body and mind, must be brought under control and developed properly. This is where pranayama and pratyahara come in. With pranayama we control our vital energies and impulses and with pratyahara we gain mastery over the unruly senses — both prerequisites to successful meditation.

What is Pratyahara?

The term is usually translated as "withdrawal from the senses," but much more is implied.

The term pratyahara is composed of two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. Ahara means "food," or "anything we take into ourselves from the outside." Prati is a preposition meaning "against" or "away." Pratyahara means literally "control of ahara," or "gaining mastery over external influences." It is compared to a turtle withdrawing its limbs into its shell — the turtle’s shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. The term is usually translated as "withdrawal from the senses," but much more is implied.

In yogic thought there are three levels of ahara, or food. The first is physical food that brings in the five elements necessary to nourish the body. The second is impressions, which bring in the subtle substances necessary to nourish the mind — the sensations of sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell. The third level of ahara is our associations, the people we hold at heart level who serve to nourish the soul and affect us with the gunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas.

Pratyahara is twofold. It involves withdrawal from wrong food, wrong impressions and wrong associations, while simultaneously opening up to right food, right impressions and right associations
We cannot control our mental impressions without right diet and right relationship, but pratyahara’s primary importance lies in control of sensory impressions which frees the mind to move within.

By withdrawing our awareness from negative impressions, pratyahara strengthens the mind’s powers of immunity. Just as a healthy body can resists toxins and pathogens, a healthy mind can ward off the negative sensory influences around it. If you are easily disturbed by the noise and turmoil of the environment around you, practice pratyahara. Without it, you will not be able to meditate.

There are four main forms of pratyahara: 

1. indriya-pratyahara — control of the senses 
2. prana- pratyahara - control of prana 
3. karma-pratyahara - control of action; and 
4. mano-pratyahara - withdrawal of mind from the senses. 

Each has its special methods.

1. Control of the Senses (Indriya-pratyahara)

Indriya-pratyahara, or control of the senses, is the most important form of pratyahara, although this is not something that we like to hear about in our mass media-oriented culture. Most of us suffer from sensory overload, the result of constant bombardment from television, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines, books — you name it. Our commercial society functions by stimulating our interest through the senses. We are constantly confronted with bright colors, loud noises and dramatic sensations. We have been raised on every sort of sensory indulgence; it is the main form of entertainment in our society.

The problem is that the senses, like untrained children, have their own will, which is largely instinctual in nature. They tell the mind what to do. If we don’t discipline them, they dominate us with their endless demands. We are so accustomed to ongoing sensory activity that we don’t know how to keep our minds quiet; we have become hostages of the world of the senses and its allurements. We run after what is appealing to the senses and forget the higher goals of life. For this reason, pratyahara is probably the most important limb of yoga for people today.

The old saying "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" applies to those of us who have not learned how to properly control our senses. Indriya-pratyahara gives us the tools to strengthen the spirit and reduce its dependency on the body. Such control is not suppression (which causes eventual revolt), but proper coordination and motivation.

Right Intake of Impressions

Pratyahara centers on the right intake of impressions. Most of us are careful about the food we eat and the company we keep, but we may not exercise the same discrimination about the impressions we take in from the senses. We accept impressions via the mass media that we would never allow in our personal lives. We let people into our houses through television and movies that we would never allow into our homes in real life! What kind of impressions do we take in every day? Can we expect that they will not have an effect on us? Strong sensations dull the mind, and a dull mind makes us act in ways that are insensitive, careless, or even violent.

According to Ayurveda, sensory impressions are the main food for the mind. The background of our mental field consists of our predominant sensory impressions. We see this when our mind reverts to the impressions of the last song we heard or the last movie we saw. Just as junk food makes the body toxic, junk impressions make the mind toxic. Junk food requires a lot of salt, sugar, or spices to make it palatable because it is largely dead food; similarly junk impressions require powerful dramatic impressions — sex and violence — to make us feel that they are real, because they are actually just colors projected on a screen.

We cannot ignore the role sensory impressions play in making us who we are, for they build up the subconscious and strengthen the tendencies latent within it. Trying to meditate without controlling our impressions pits our subconscious against us and prevents the development of inner peace and clarity.

Sensory Withdrawal

Fortunately we are not helpless before the barrage of sensory impressions. Pratyahara provides us many tools for managing them properly. Perhaps the simplest way to control our impressions is simply to cut them off, to spend some time apart from all sensory inputs. Just as the body benefits by fasting from food, so the mind benefits by fasting from impressions. This can be as simple as sitting to meditate with our eyes closed or taking a retreat somewhere free from the normal sensory bombardments, like at a mountain cabin. Also a "media fast," abstaining from television, radio, etc. can be a good practice to cleanse and rejuvenate the mind.
Yoni mudra
Yoni mudra is one of the most important pratyahara techniques for closing the senses. It involves using the fingers to block the sensory openings in the head — the eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth — and allowing the attention and energy to move within. It is done for short periods of time when our prana is energized, such as immediately after practicing pranayama. (Naturally we should avoid closing the mouth and nose to the point at which we starve ourselves of oxygen.).

Another method of sense withdrawal is to keep our sense organs open but withdraw our attention from them. In this way we cease taking in impressions without actually closing off our sense organs. The most common method, shambhavi mudra, consists of sitting with the eyes open while directing the attention within, a technique used in several Buddhist systems of meditation as well. This redirection of the senses inward can be done with the other senses as well, particularly with the sense of hearing. It helps us control our mind even when the senses are functioning, as they are during the normal course of the day.

Focusing on Uniform Impressions

Another way to cleanse the mind and control the senses is to put our attention on a source of uniform impressions, such as gazing at the ocean or the blue sky. Just as the digestive system gets short-circuited by irregular eating habits and contrary food qualities, our ability to digest impressions can be deranged by jarring or excessive impressions. And just as improving our digestion may require going on a mono-diet, like the ayurvedic use of rice and mung beans (kicharee), so our mental digestion may require a diet of natural but homogeneous impressions. This technique is often helpful after a period of fasting from impressions.

Creating Positive Impressions

Another means of controlling the senses is to create positive, natural impressions. There are a number of ways to do this: meditating upon aspects of nature such as trees, flowers, or rocks, as well as visiting temples or other places of pilgrimage which are repositories of positive impressions and thoughts. Positive impressions can also be created by using incense, flowers, ghee lamps, altars, statues, and other artifacts of devotional worship.

Creating Inner Impressions

Another sensory withdrawal technique is to focus the mind on inner impressions, thus removing attention from external impressions. We can create our own inner impressions through the imagination or we can contact the subtle senses that come into play when the physical senses are quiet.

Visualization is the simplest means of creating inner impressions. In fact, most yogic meditation practices begin with some type of visualization, such as "seeing" a deity, a guru, or a beautiful setting in nature. More elaborate visualizations involve imagining deities and their worlds, or mentally performing rituals, such as offering imaginary flowers or gems to imagined deities. The artist absorbed in an inner landscape or the musician creating music are also performing inner visualizations. These are all forms of pratyahara because they clear the mental field of external impressions and create a positive inner impression to serve as the foundation of meditation. Preliminary visualizations are helpful for most forms of meditation and can be integrated into other spiritual practices as well.

Laya Yoga is the yoga of the inner sound and light current, in which we focus on subtle senses to withdraw us from the gross senses. This withdrawal into inner sound and light is a means of transforming the mind and is another form of indriya-pratyahara.

2. Control of the Prana (Prana-Pratyahara)

Control of the senses requires the development and control of prana because the senses follow prana (our vital energy). Unless our prana is strong we will not have the power to control the senses. If our prana is scattered or disturbed, our senses will also be scattered and disturbed.

Pranayama is a preparation for pratyahara. Prana is gathered in pranayama and withdrawn in pratyahara. Yogic texts describe methods of withdrawing prana from different parts of the body, starting with the toes and ending wherever we wish to fix our attention — the top of the head, the third eye, the heart or one of the other chakras.

Perhaps the best method of prana-pratyahara is to visualize the death process, in which the prana, or the life-force, withdraws from the body, shutting off all the senses from the feet to the head. Ramana Maharshi achieved Self-realization by doing this when he was a mere boy of seventeen. Before inquiring into the Self, he visualized his body as dead, withdrawing his prana into the mind and the mind into the heart. Without such complete and intense pratyahara, his meditative process would not have been successful.

3. Control of Action (Karma-Pratyahara)

We cannot control the sense organs without also controlling the motor organs (hands. feet, tonque, genitals). In fact the motor organs involve us directly in the external world. The impulses coming in through the senses get expressed through the motor organs and this drives us to further sensory involvement. Because desire is endless, happiness consists not in getting what we want, but in no longer needing anything from the external world.

Just as the right intake of impressions gives control of the sense organs, right work and right action gives control of the motor organs. This involves karma yoga — performing selfless service and making our life a sacred ritual. Karma-pratyahara can be performed by surrendering any thought of personal rewards for what we do, doing everything as service to God or to humanity.
The Bhagavad Gita says, "Your duty is to act, not to seek a reward for what you do." This is one kind of pratyahara. It also includes the practice of austerities that lead to control of the motor organs. For example, asana can be used to control the hands and feet, control which is needed when we sit quietly for extended periods of time.

Mastering pratyahara we can meditate even in the most noisy place
4. Withdrawal of the Mind (Mano-Pratyahara)

The yogis tell us that mind is the sixth sense organ and that it is responsible for coordinating all the other sense organs. We take in sensory impressions only where we place our mind’s attention. In a way we are always practicing pratyahara. The mind’s attention is limited and we give attention to one sensory impression by withdrawing the mind from other impressions. Wherever we place our attention, we naturally overlook other things.

We control our senses by withdrawing our mind’s attention from them. According to the Yoga Sutras II.54: "When the senses do not conform with their own objects but imitate the nature of the mind, that is pratyahara." More specifically, it is mano-pratyahara — withdrawing the senses from their objects and directing them inward to the nature of the mind, which is formless. Vyasa’s commentary on the Yoga Sutra notes that the mind is like the queen bee and the senses are the worker bees. Wherever the queen bee goes, all the other bees must follow. Thus mano-pratyahara is less about controlling the senses than about controlling the mind, for when the mind is controlled, the senses are automatically controlled.

We can practice mano-pratyahara by consciously withdrawing our attention from unwholesome impressions whenever they arise. This is the highest form of pratyahara and the most difficult; if we have not gained proficiency in controlling the senses, motor organs, and pranas, it is unlikely to work. Like wild animals, prana and the senses can easily overcome a weak mind, so it is usually better to start first with more practical methods of pratyahara.

David Frawley
Pratyahara and the Other Limbs of Yoga

Pratyahara is related to all the limbs of yoga. All of the other limbs — from asana to samadhi — contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in the sitting poses, which are the most important aspect of asana, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, that help us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation. It follows pranayama (or control of prana) and, by linking prana with the mind, takes it out of the sphere of the body.

Pratyahara is also linked with dharana. In pratyahara we withdraw our attention from ordinary distractions. In dharana we consciously focus that attention on a particular object, such as a mantra. Pratyahara is the negative and dharana the positive aspect of the same basic function.

Many of us find that even after years of meditation practice we have not achieved all that we expected. Trying to practice meditation without some degree of pratyahara is like trying to gather water in a leaky vessel. No matter how much water we bring in, it flows out at the same rate. The senses are like holes in the vessel of the mind. Unless they are sealed, the mind cannot hold the nectar of truth. Anyone whose periods of meditation alternate with periods of sensory indulgence is in need of pratyahara.

Pratyahara offers many methods of preparing the mind for meditation. It also helps us avoid environmental disturbances that are the source of psychological pain. Pratyahara is a marvelous tool for taking control of our lives and opening up to our inner being. It is no wonder some great yogis have called it "the most important limb of yoga." We should all remember to include it in our practice.

Pratyahara and Ayurveda

Pratyahara, as right management of the mind and senses, is essential and good for all constitutional types (Vata-Pitta-Kapha). It is the most important factor for mental nutrition.

Vata types. However, it is most essential for those with a vata constitution who tend towards imbalanced or excessive sensory and mental activity. All vata types should practice some form of pratyahara daily. Their restless vata distracts the senses, disturbs the motor organs and prana, and makes the mind restless. Pratyahara reverse harmful vata and turns it into a positive force of prana.

Kapha types, on the other hand, generally suffer from too little activity, including on a sensory level. They may slip into tamasic patterns of being lazy, watching television or sitting around the house. They need more mental stimulation and benefit from sensory activity of a higher nature, like visualizations of various types.

Pitta types generally have more control of the senses than the others and incline toward martial-type activities in which they discipline the body and the senses. They need to practice pratyahara as a means of relaxing the personal will and letting the divine will work through them.

Pratyahara and Disease

Ayurveda recognizes that the inappropriate use of the senses is one of the main causes of disease. All mental disease is connected with the intake of unwholesome impressions. Pratyahara therefore is an important first step in treating all mental disorders. Similarly it is very helpful in treating nervous system disorders, particularly those that arise through hyperactivity. Most of the time we overly express our emotions, which loses tremendous energy. Pratyahara teaches us to hold our energy within and not disperse it unnecessarily. This conserved energy can be drawn upon for creative, spiritual or healing purposes as needed and can provide the extra power to do the things that are really important to us.

Physical disease mainly arises from taking in unwholesome food. Pratyahara affords us control of the senses so that we do not crave wrong food. When the senses are controlled, everything is controlled and no wrong or artificial cravings can arise. That is why Ayurveda emphasizes right use of the senses as one of the most important factors in right living and disease prevention.

Peace, Love, Harmony