Pratyahara (July 2006)

Self-control – the fifth limb of Yoga

What is Pratyahara

Pratyahara means disengagement of the senses from their objects of attachment. Every sense has objects of natural inclination. These natural inclinations if not controlled can be quite distracting. For example, any pleasing – or annoying – sound can easily divert the attention of a person from whatever he or she is doing.

To attain the final stage of yoga, that is, Samadhi, one has to learn to control the senses in midst of trouble and chaos. This control of senses is called Pratyahara. Practicing Pratyahara is very important for students. It helps them in focusing on studies in middle of various distractions.

Ways to achieve Pratyahara:

1.     First means to realize Pratyahara is to practice the control of mind and senses in a quiet and solitary place. After long and exceptionally good practice it is possible to shut off the disturbances even if they are strong.

2.     The second means is to appreciate and realize the limitations and evils of wasting time and energy in the pursuit of pleasures of the senses.

3.     The third means is the love of God. Shut off the desire to enjoy the objects of senses, awaken yourself to the love and presence of God that is everywhere, and learn to hold the senses within.

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