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Pratyahara (Sense Withdrawal) Meditation

In this segment, I will take you through a sequence of guided meditation. In this meditation the objective is to disengage the mind from any influence from the five senses. This will help us focus the mind inward which will help us get into a deeper state of meditation. This state of the mind is called Pratyahara, which in one of the eight limbs of yoga called "Ashtanga Yoga" in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. I will guide you through a sequence wherein we will connect with each of the five senses one at a time and then disengage from it. Click on the "play" button below to practice with the audio. I am also giving below the text transcript of the audio that you can use for your meditation.

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Sit in any comfortable seated posture, with the spine upright and vertical. Keep the eyes closed.Try to pull the neck up, rooting the tail bone down so the spine feels elongated. Try to maintain the head, neck and trunk in vertical alignment. Make any adjustments to so the spine and the body feel comfortable. Relax the hands, arms and shoulders. Relax the neck muscles. Now, soften and relax the facial muscles. Begin to watch your breath as you inhale and exhale, just observing the flow of breath at the tip of the nose, without modifying your natural breathing rhythm.

Now we will recite the sound of OM three times. So, inhale – OM …..; OM …..; OM …….

Sense of touch

We’ll begin by first making a connection with the sense of touch. Try to become aware of all the points of contact between the body and the floor, also feel the slight heaviness of the body on the ground. The body feels fully supported by the ground under us and is completely relaxed.

Become aware of the contact between the hands and the body, wherever they are resting. Feel the gentle weight of the hands on the body. The hands feel relaxed. Let’s become aware of the contact between the clothes and the skin, and, maybe, even the subtle weight of the clothes on the body. Finally becoming aware of the contact between the surrounding air and the skin.

Sense of smell

Let’s shift the awareness to the sense of smell. Focus at the tip of the nose. We’ll add a visualization in the mind. Imagine your most favorite smell – smell of a food or drink, smell of a flower or a fragrance – a smell that you truly enjoy. Try to bring an experience of that smell to the tip of the nose with each inhalation.

Sense of taste

Shifting the awareness next to the sense of taste. Bring your focus to the tip of the tongue. We’ll add a similar visualization. Imagine your most favorite taste – the taste of any food or drink that you truly enjoy. Try to bring the experience of that taste to the tip of the tongue.

Sense of sight

We’ll shift the awareness next to the sense of sight. This time imagine a physical object that you truly enjoy looking at. Pick an object that is the source of visual delight for you. Bring an image of that object to the back of your mind’s eye in its full color, shape and size. Just stay focused on the image for the next few breaths.

Sense of hearing

And finally we’ll make a connection with the sense of hearing. We’ll begin with a visualization – imagine a sound that you truly enjoy listening to; it could be the sound of a loved one, sound of a musical note or even the sound of the chirping of a bird. Try to bring an experience of that sound to your ears.

Now slowly shift the awareness to your breathing. The breath at this point is very soft and subtle. Since there is movement of breath, try to imagine the almost imperceptible sound of your breathing.

At this point the mind is calm and the breath is very soft and gentle. In this state of mental peace and quiet, see if you can listen to your own heart beat. If you can, stay tuned to the rhythm of the heartbeat for a few moments.

Gradually shift the hearing away from the body. Try to perceive any sounds from within the room. Slowly extend your hearing to outside the room and try to perceive sounds from outside the room. Continue to extend the hearing farther and farther away until you feel totally absorbed in the complete silence that lies at the end of all sound vibration. Total stillness.

Gradually bring your awareness back to your breathing and, focusing at the tip of the nose, begin to watch the flow of breath as you inhale and exhale. As you inhale, feel the gentle cooling of the nostrils. As you exhale, become aware of the gentle warmth of the outgoing breath. Just connecting with the quality and depth of each breath. The breath is gentle, soft, and subtle. It is so subtle that if you were to place the softest of feathers at the tip of the nose, it may not flutter.

Shift the awareness now to the mind. The mind seems very calm and peaceful. So peaceful that you may be able to go into deeper levels of consciousness. Try to become aware of the deepest core of your existence, a place which is perfectly still, always peaceful and joyful. Try to make a connection with this source of peace and joy.

At this point you can either stay connected with your inner being or you may want to transition to your own mantra meditation for a few more moments.

We’ll conclude this meditation by reciting the sound of OM once. OM ….

Feel free to stay with this very peaceful feeling for a longer period.

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