Yogasadhanas in the Gita – Part 2

The satsang is divided in three parts:

Part One Part Two Part Three

Pratyahara

Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna in the process of pratyahara. He tells Arjuna, “In order to stabilise the mind pull the limbs of the mind and the senses inwards, just as the turtle pulls the limbs of his body into the shell.” The state of pratyahara is defined here. The turtle has six limbs sticking out of the shell; two arms, two legs, one tail and one head. Humans function with five senses and the mind – six senses in total. The mind represents the head of the turtle and this mind has to be pulled inside. The five senses represent the arms, legs and tail of the turtle, pull them in. Withdraw the senses from their sense objects and pull them within yourself. This is the practice of  pratyahara as defined by Patanjali and also as taught to us by Sri Swamiji.

Pratyahara begins by stilling the physical senses through kaya sthairyam and by regulating the breath. Breath is the mirror of the mind and mental conditions and moods are reflected in the breath. When the mind is hyperactive, breath is rapid, shallow and fast but if the mind is at rest then the breath is long, deep and slow.

Therefore, in order to access the mind, regulate the breath as well. If you can regulate the breath and equalise the inhalation and exhalation, through the practice of nadi shodhana pranayama, then you can access the mind through breath. To still the physical senses practise kaya sthairyam. To still the mind use a physical agent, regulation of the length of breath and then focus the mind on awareness of the higher Self.

But before one can focus on the awareness of the higher Self, the layers of mind have to be traversed. Just as to reach the bottom of the ocean one has to swim through many, many metres of ocean water, in the same way one has to go through many layers of mind to eventually realise and see the presence of higher consciousness within. The deepest part of the ocean is six kilometres deep and you have to swim all the way down. In the same manner you have to walk through six kilometres of your mind before you come to realise the presence of the supreme Self within you.