Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses from their respective objects. It is the abstraction of the senses.
Real, spiritual or inner life only begins when the Yogic student is established in Pratyahara.
Pratyahara checks the outgoing tendencies of the senses.
The exited senses of even a wise man, though he may be strong, impetuously carry away his mind.
The practice demands considerable patience and perseverance (abhyasa). It is a trying discipline of the senses. It is compared to the reining in and focusing of the horses (senses) driving your chariot (mind).
The senses cannot do anything without the cooperation of the mind. If you can disconnect the mind from the senses, there will be abstraction of the senses automatically.
Just as the bees fly when the Queen flies, and sit when the Queen sits down, so the senses become restrained when the mind is restrained.
Pratyahara is that by which the senses do not come in contact with their objects.
If the senses are uncontrollable, the Yogic student cannot achieve any success in Yoga. (really see this one for what it is and what is being taught out there)
Abstraction consists in the senses becoming entirely assimilated in the mind.
Then follows the greatest mastery over the senses.
Control of the senses is absolute one-pointedness (dharana) of the mind.
The senses are held in check by the practice of Pratyahara.
Practice withdrawal of the senses one by one. Deal first with the most turbulent sense.
Withdraw the senses gently from their objects. If you drag them vehemently, you will experience headache.
Detach your mind from the centres. Do not allow it to join itself to the centres. You will succeed in Pratyahara.
Withdraw the mind, the Prana and the senses. This is triple withdrawal. This is very powerful.
Just as a tortoise draws in its limbs on all sides, so also the Yogic student withdraws all his senses from the objects of the senses. Then his understanding is well-poised.
Just as a turbulent storm tosses a ship, so also the hidden desires toss the roving senses and the mind vehemently. Be eternally vigilant. Annihilate all desires with the sword of dispassion and the axe of discrimination.
During the practice the senses will run again and again towards the objects like a wild bull.
Withdraw them again and again.
The idea is not to watch the mind. This is just a mind game. The mind continues to spin and although you may have a witness perspective you are still in the mind. This is a prison, break out of prison.
No amount of human effort can give perfect success, therefore, persevere and pray.
Pratyahara becomes easy after the practice of Pranayana if one does not float away on follies of the mind or become ungrounded.
Pratyahara follows the practice of Pranayama automatically.
If you have intense dispassion (vairagya), you can practice Pratyahara easily.
Dispassion is the enemy of the senses and the friend of Pratyahara.
Observance of silence, moderation in diet, steadiness in pose, dispassion, regularity in the practice of pranayama, patience, contentment, perseverance, tenacity, celibacy, seclusion, are all aids to Pratyahara.
Practice of pranayama thins out the senses and prepares the Yogic student for the practice of pratyahara.
Discrimination (viveka) between the real and the unreal helps a great deal in attaining success in pratyahara.
Success in pratyahara depends upon the strength and force of past Yogic impressions.
He who has practiced pranayama and pratyahara in his previous birth to some extent will have success in pratyahara within a short time in this birth.
A beginner who attempts to practise Yoga for the first time in this birth, who has no previous Samskaras or impressions of past births to his credit, may take a long time to achieve definite success in pratyahara.
One can oneself know whether one is a new practitioner In Yoga or Yoga Bhrashta (one fallen from Yoga) from one’s own experience and the degree of success in one’s practice in this birth.
Pratyahara is disgusting in the beginning, but later on it becomes very interesting.
He who is well-established in pratyahara can meditate calmly even in a noisy place.
Pratyahara develops will power and inner spiritual strength.
Nothing can distract the mind of one who is established in pratyahara.
He who is efficient in pratyahara can enter into deep sleep the moment he lies down on his bed. Gandhiji could do this.
Unsteady Asana (flow or modern yoga classes), too much talking, too much mixing with worldly people, too much work, too much food, too much walking, to much busyness, too much curiosity in other people’s affairs, are all obstacles in the practice of pratyahara. Movement is rajasic (principle of activity). Stillness creates stillness. (In this way you see that running can never be a meditation in the true understanding of what meditation is. It is only a stimulation, we are trying to stop the stimulation, not create more. Just try an example; breath quick and shallow for 1 minute. Afterwards notice the mind. It is stimulated. Not stilled.)
If dispassion wanes and if there is slackness in the practice, the senses will again become turbulent.
Some Yogic students practice pratyahara for three years and yet do not attain definite success, as they have not annihilated the cravings and lurking desires. They get themselves attached to some sensual object or other. They do not live the according lifestyle nessesary and are out in the world.
A Bhakta or a devotee does not practice pratyahara. He beholds his Lord in all objects.
A Jnana Yogi or yogi of knowledge or wisdom also does not practice pratyahara. He tries to identify himself with the hidden Self in all objects by negating the names and forms.
A Raja Yogi alone practices pratyahara deliberately. This includes most forms that are supposedly practiced today in the masses.
That Yogic student who jumps at once to the practice of meditation without pratyahara will not have success in meditation.
It is difficult to say where pratyahara ends and Dharana or concentration begins. They blend together very quickly, pratyahara leading quickly to dharana.
Try this, sit in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes.
Bring your attention to the eyeballs and then draw back slowly to find the center of the head.
Focus all attention to this specific spot.
Trying to discern it more and more succinct.
Bring all of your senses to it.
You will notice in time that the world out side slowly disappears.
You will not hear the world, smell the world, etc…
This is the very first step.
Most people have never been there.
Many experience fear or anxiety in doing this, this is normal for the beginner.
This is both Pratyahara and Dharana.