A man embarks on a journey, on his boat, to find his true self. This journey continues for years with this man travelling to different places, islands, countries, continent, meeting people. During the journey he gets totally disoriented and probably forgets his identity but still continues his journey. On one fine day his boat lands on a small lonely island in midst of water. Being used to his old habits, he wanders all around on the island; searches on shores, on hills, deep into the island but could not to find his true self and thus finally decides to give up his journey and return. Just before bidding adieu to the island, while standing on the sea shore on his last sunset at the island, he gets some time to ponder; he looks down on his feet and sees his own reflection in water. This helps him to understand that the journey to self-discovery starts by looking inwards!
Looking within or turning your senses inwards, known as ‘Pratyahara’ is one of the eight limbs on which Patanjali Yoga Sutra bases itself. Many a times, in our fast paced life, we rarely get time or opportunity to look inward and find our true self. And that becomes reason for our Stresses! Pains! And Agonies!
If we turn our focus from looking outward to looking inward, we could continue our journey for the next three important stages (and difficult ones too!) – ‘Dharna’, ‘Dhyan’ and ‘Samadhi’. Hence the first four stages ‘Yamas’, ‘Niyams’, ‘Asana’ and ‘Pranayam’ and the fifth one, ‘Pratyahara’, are the means to help us reach and then transcend other three stages. ‘Samadhi’ in itself is start of a journey and you would need to transcend various stages before you attain the final objective – union of ‘Jivaatma’ with ‘Parmatma’ (defined as yoga). It is where the duality ceases to exist and we unite with the universe.
On a day to day basis, ‘duality’ is the reason for our pains. The very moment we move away or perform an action that is against the true nature of our atman, we suffer; and negative energies generate inside our physical, subtle bodies that manifests as anger, frustration, sadness etc. and finally show up as diseases in the body. For those of us who are living an artificial life there is always a revolt inside which draws our energy levels down, making our bodies to vibrate at lower frequencies. Let us begin by paying attention to ‘Yamas’ and ‘Niyamas’. Yamas are restraints that are to be practised. It includes, Ahimsa, Satya, Bramhacharya, Asteya – non-stealing and Aparigraha – non-possessiveness. Think it in the way, by following Yamas we are reversing the direction of our thinking patterns so that we are ready to take up ‘Niyamas’ which would take our thinking in the right direction. ‘Niyamas’ are the observances, it includes Saucha, Santosha, Tapas, Swadhyaya, Ishwara-Pranidhana. But for most of us buck stops here! Our committment and will power start waning right after we listen to such words (seem quite heavy!), which make us feel burdened; probably because we start framing various permutations and combinations, situations in our mind making it an uphill task. But for those of us who would like to follow this, let us take step back and just start by following one or two of the ‘Yamas’ or ‘Niyamas’ that we feel can be followed with ease and then later on graduate to the next ones/levels.
Though this might sound trivial but we are at least taking our first step in the right direction…