August 21, 2013.
Our senses are wonderful tools, but they can also pull our attention here, there, and everywhere. The yogic practice of pratyahara, withdrawal of the senses, helps us have control over them and use them well, rather than being distracted by them. Here is a guided meditation to help experience the senses and draw our awareness inward.
This is a profound relaxation practice for bringing in all of the outward sensual consciousness. We begin with the physical body, then move to the breath, thoughts, and emotions.
Encouraging the senses to draw inward is pratyahara.
Lie on your back or sit in a comfortable supported position. Close your eyes. Relax.
Begin to take in a few deep breaths. Notice how still the body and breath become as they relax. Observe the breath without controlling it as it comes and goes without any strain.
Guide this gentle breath to bring all sensual awareness from the feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, thighs, hips. Relax.
Guide this awareness to withdraw from the fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms.
Let go of holding awareness in the hands and arms, or shoulders. Relax.
Do the same with the buttocks and pelvis; allow the abdomen to soften; imagine the chest, lungs, heart, and the throat relaxed.
Gently allow the awareness from the base of the spine to slowly rise up through the middle spine to the upper spine. Relax the shoulders and allow the neck to be an open connection between the heart and the head. Relax.
Experience the sensations as the body retreats.
The head holds most of the organs of the senses. Gently relax the jaw and withdraw taste and speech from the mouth.
Withdraw smell from the nose.
Allow the eyelids and the eyes to soften, moving toward the inner sight.
Relax the forehead, and tune the ears to the inner sounds. Relax the entire scalp and bathe the brain with relaxation.
Allow the gentle breath to relieve the mind and emotions of all movement. Relax.
Slowly bring the awareness to the gentle breath as it enters and leaves the body.
As it enters, feel yourself drawing deeper within.
As it leaves, feel yourself letting go of all holdings.
Notice a lightness and a feeling of distancing from the body, mind, emotions, and all worldly cares.
Begin to go further within to look for that place of stillness, peace, and joy. This is the dwelling place of your Divine Self.
(Enjoy five full minutes of quiet time.)
Slowly and gently bring the awareness back to the breath.
Begin to increase the inhalation and feel that the senses have been purified and strengthened. Begin to feel them awakening to a relaxed body and a calm mind.
As you continue with this practice, your senses will become accustomed to drawing inward. It will become effortless to prepare the mind and emotions for deeper practice.