BY SUSHANT PANDEY
The process of meditation entails centering, mindfulness and internalization of awareness. Traditionally, the process of meditation is seen as a continuous process of an inward journey from the field of sensorial dimension to the innermost state of being. Technically this process begins with the stage of Pratyahara (withdrawal of mind). Pratyahara is the first and foremost stage of meditation which starts with the awareness and acknowledgement of sensorial inputs and simultaneous witnessing awareness. There are many techniques which are employed to help facilitate this process of mind-withdrawal.
In one of the techniques of Pratyahara, awareness of any one of the sense perception can be used to internalize the mind. This further leads one to the stage of Dharana i.e. one-pointedness where mind develops the quality to hold onto one object of meditation for a long time. Here is one such simple technique of Pratyahara which can be practiced in any position for 5-10 minutes. This simple technique of meditation can help to enhance the level of relaxation, calmness of the mind and can help improve one’s ability to focus and concentrate.
Technique of Pratyahara
Awareness of physical body
Please assume one comfortable position either in cross-legged sitting position on the floor or comfortably sitting on the chair. Place your hands on the knees or in the lap. Check your head, neck and spine are aligned. Make your position as comfortable as you can. Now notice if your body is balanced and weight of the body is evenly distributed on both buttocks.
Now begin to scan the whole of the body by taking your awareness to different parts of the body. Mentally feel the entire face and the neck areas and consciously release and soften the tightness in the muscles. Release your jaws and keep your lips gently closed. Consciously release the shoulders and keep your both arms passive. Then feel the entire back and abdomen and mentally let go these areas.
Awareness of sensation of touch
Now take your awareness to those parts of the body which are touching the floor or sitting surface. Notice and feel the points of contact between your buttocks and the surface, feel the parts of your feet touching the surface. Then get a sense of the contact points between hands and the parts of the legs. Now further refine your awareness and begin to notice the contact of clothes with the skin. Feeling the clothes touching the upper parts of the body. Feel the sensation of touch between the clothes and torso, back and arms. Then gradually take your awareness to the lower parts of the body. Now feel the various contact points between clothes and your legs.
Now for a few moments rotate your awareness through all these different contact points between body and the clothes.
Awareness of breath
Now shift your awareness to the breath and begin to notice each breath moving in and out of the nostrils. While focusing on the breath, feel the sensation of touch as air flows move through the nostrils. Maintain moment to moment awareness of the breath at the nose tip. Feel each breath touching the inner layers of the nostrils as it moves. Practice it for a minute or two.
Now notice the temperature of the breath at the nose tip. You would notice your in-breath is slightly cooler than the out-breath. Keep noticing the continuous flow of each inhalation and exhalation. Keep your awareness focused there and begin to count your 19 breaths backwards from 19 to the count of 0.
Ending the practice
Now after counting 19 breaths watch your breaths for a few moments. After a while bring your awareness to the body and surroundings. Mentally externalize yourself and then open the eyes.
This is one simple technique of meditation to induce Pratyahara, which can be practiced any time of the day. And a few minutes of Pratyahara practice can help you to release the stress and induce relaxation.
Sushant embarked on a journey of yoga in 1997 as a postgraduate student of Yoga Psychology from Bihar Yoga Bharati (Deemed University); known worldwide for its authentic and systematic teachings of the yogic discipline. After completing his Post Graduation in Yoga Psychology; he was involved as an intern in various projects/studies in prisons, army, hospitals and corporate for one and half years. After an internship; he was appointed a lecturer in the Department of Yoga Psychology at Bihar Yoga Bharati until 2005, which provided him ample opportunities to explore the theoretical as well as practical dimensions of yogic knowledge.
Today he is an independent yoga teacher and co-founder of Rishikesh Yogis Yogshala and is currently living in Russia & India. He conducts retreats and workshops on Yoga philosophy, meditations and Kriya Yoga. Connect with him on Facebook.