October 22, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
Limb V of the VIII Limbs of Yoga: Pratyahara means drawing back or retreat. The word ahara means “nourishment”; pratyahara translates as “to withdraw oneself from that which nourishes the senses.” In yoga, the term pratyahara implies withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects. It can then be seen as the practice of non-attachment to sensorial distractions as we constantly return to the path of self-realization and achievement of internal peace. It means our senses stop living off the things that stimulate; the senses no longer depend on these stimulants and are not fed by them any more.
~ William J. D. Duran
From earlier blogs, you’ll probably recall the many ways we avoid being in the state of Pratyahara. Today I’d like to focus on one of the great American pastimes: worry. For example, how much energy are we putting into worrying about the upcoming election? Have we figured out yet how little impact our worrying has on the outcome? Worry, like fear, has a way of pulling us way off our path, in fact, worry, like so many negative habits, can be seen as just another way to stay asleep. Worry and fear, fear and worry — we can get stuck all day. Our thoughts become like runaway trains. Will the train run into that building? Will it tip over and crush us all? How far can we let our imaginations take us? Sometimes we even use worry as a way to control or manipulate.
I used to have a friend who would call me on the phone quite often. If I didn’t call her back in some prescribed length of time (no more than two hours or so) she would call again. If I still didn’t call back, she would call with more frequency, and more and more, so that she was calling about every ten minutes. Her messages would go from “just calling to say hi, give me a call” to “I’m worried about you. If you don’t call me back in the next ten minutes I’m going to call the police and have them do a welfare check on you.” This happened so often I finally realized this was a person I couldn’t have in my life. No amount of reassurance would satisfy her. She told me she was “invested” in our relationship and she really needed to know where I was at all times. When I would return her calls, which I grew less and less inclined to do, she didn’t really want anything, except to know what I was doing.
I think we all encounter people on our paths who need more than we can give. They have come into our lives for a reason. We don’t know what it is, it may be karma, it may be as a teacher, it may be to show us discernment, but whatever the reason, we need to know that it is okay to keep them in our hearts, but release them from our lives. If we choose to keep them in our lives then we walk a very fine line between trying to “fix” them and just agreeing to do something we don’t want to do so that we don’t have to say no. If we are one of those people who keep overly needy people in our lives, we really need to look at what we are getting out of it. Because we are getting something and what we’re getting is not necessarily a good thing. In my case, when I’ve done this, it is because of my gosh-darn-too-big ego. When someone flatters me I tend to believe them. (Who would’ve thought?)
Part of Pratyahara means making the decision to lead was is known as a “consecrated life.” Leading a consecrated life means that our goal to awaken is the central theme in our lives. Everything we think, say, and do in life is toward that goal. When we encounter someone who needs more than we can give, it is important we honor ourselves and our paths first. It is not our job to save the world, only ourselves.
When we are surrounded with so much suffering, as we come awake it becomes our overwhelming desire to help those in need. And, where possible, we do, unless it is to the detriment of our own path. Discernment teaches us who is in our lives for our highest good and who isn’t. This has been one of my toughest lessons and I have frittered away much valuable time in this area. How do I know I’m off the path? I pay attention to my body. My body tells me everything I need to know. In this particular arena, my ego has no control over my body (as opposed to running, where my ego has way too much control over my body.) If my stomach says my interaction with a particular person isn’t healthy, I have learned to pay attention to it. Have faith in your body! It only took me forty-plus years or so to figure out this one.
For the last few years, whenever I’ve said Thank you to certain people, they answer no worries. Perhaps this is what they were talking about. So …
Yours with no worries, Chris