FIFTH STAGE: PRATYAHARA
The Pratyahara leads our mind inwards, preparing it for meditation. In pratyahara, our mind is withdrawn from the senses and the sense objects, yet remaining fully aware of the inner processes. Pratyahara is the stage between externalising and internalising the mind. It is somewhere in between.
We can come to understand Pratyahara in Savasana. It’s so good to use this time to relax after a vigorous practice but there can be so much more than simple relaxation. The posture gives us the opportunity to dwell initially on the physical body and use that as the foundation point from which to delve deeper. By scanning the body we can notice sensations but not attach or react to them.
We focus the sensation of touch by observing the plane of contact between the body and the mat. We also focus on external and internal sounds but do not react. Your eyes are closed and you observe the patterns within the darkness. You are aware of temperature and allow the sensations to be present, hot or cold, but do not respond. You may be aware of sensations of pain and decide to be with them, rather than react to them.
It is at this stage that the mind can switch off completely and go into the inner state of sleep. With practice, we learn to train the involuntary systems of the brain to avoid falling asleep as the subconscious mind begins to surface. We are able to dwell in a place between being fully conscious and asleep.
It is in this state our inner most feelings, our emotions are allowed to surface. It is not unusual for this stage to be very uncomfortable as deep seated emotions rise to the surface. This is not always a response to your immediate circumstances. It can be emotions from events that happened weeks, months or even years ago. We can learn to be with these emotions without trying to escape them and in doing so allow our mind and body to heal.