Practical Pratyahara


My third post on the 5th limb...There's so much to say about pratyahara. In preparation for teaching my upcoming workshop, I decided to put my words into practice. I already practice meditation everyday. But, I decided to cut out some of the negative stimulation in my own life. Because I travel frequently for work, I often have time to kill and I end up on my cellphone, checking emails and social media. I decided to cut out the social media as much as possible for 2 weeks. Now, because I run my own business, and I have an event coming up, it's nearly impossible to shut down my social media contact completely, but I limited how much time I could spend and what was done during that time. I went online once in the morning during breakfast, and once at night to check my messages and post any relevant content to my Shining Waters Yoga and personal page. I also checked event times and directions for events I was planning to attend. But, I avoided scrolling down my home page or reading other posts or hitting the like button. I spent that time reading articles, doing research and reading books for my mentorship. I also turned off my radio in my car on occasion. Not every time, but more often than not....Instead of just flipping the channels between WEAA and NPR, I asked myself if I really wanted company on a long drive, or if I could sit in silence. Quite often, I drove in silence - alone with my thoughts in a sort of mindful meditation. It was in many ways a refreshing change. I stopped watching television years ago after constantly being bombarded by images of women being tortured, raped and killed on nearly every episode of CSI, Law & Order and Criminal Minds among other shows. It's amazing how the images we take in on a daily basis can affect us. It is sometimes hard to find a balance between being socially aware and participating in important conversations that need to be had, and doing self care and tuning out occasionally when the burden of news becomes too great. I usually recognize that when I am becoming overly emotionally taxed on a daily basis, that it's time for a break. Taking a break allows your body to stop being in fight or flight mode and allows the mind to focus on other things that need tending to....For me that is my mentorship and the classes I teach and my own personal journey, which is ultimately the only thing I can really change on this earth. When we are constantly bombarded with images of terror, suffering, pain and fear it is nearly impossible to sit still, focus, and go within to do the real work of attending to your SELF. Tuning out for a time may give you the break you need to make changes in your own life. I invite you to try this simple form of pratyahara, and see how well you are able to manage turning off distractions for a day or a weekend or even a week. See what else you have time for. Notice what grabs your attention and what your mind focuses on. Remember a time before we were all so tied to social media? When we found out what was happening in the world on the nightly news, or by reading the newspaper? When we talked to our friends by calling them on the phone or actually visiting them? Social media can have many benefits, but it can also be a huge distraction. Try taking your life back. Try taking charge and saying no to digital input. Decide carefully what you will take in and what you will not - Just as we decide what food to put in our bodies, make careful choices about what visual impressions you take into your mind. This became so apparent to me when I had to take my car to the shop for a flat tire during this experiment with pratyahara. An episode of Law and Order, SUV was on their television and it was very hard to ignore. Even though I brought a book to read, and I could look away, I could not block out the sound. Notice how our senses are often assaulted without our permission. You may just be surprised. Feel free to share your journey with me if you would like! I'd love to hear about it! Namaste.

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