Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 121 - Pratyahara - Expansion of the Senses Inward
Date: Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:56pm
Q: During spinal breathing and meditation different sounds are heard. One is a low frequency fluttering sound that I assume is the AUM. However, I do not always hear that frequency. Sometimes there are multiple frequencies heard. Are these pitches associated with the different chakras and does that indicate that they are active or perhaps cleansing? Should the attention become fixed on these sounds or should they be dismissed?
A: Someone asked a similar question and it was reviewed in lesson #53 — “Light and sound.” In a nutshell, yes, it is purification, and we just easily favor our practice over experiences that come up. And yes, the chakras are involved, but there is no need to manage the details of it. It’s “under the hood,” you know, to use the analogy from past lessons.
The truth is that all our inner senses come alive throughout our nervous system (nadis and chakras) as we progress on the path, so we have to be mindful not to get distracted from the practices that are opening our nervous system up to the divine experiences. In yoga the change in sensory experience is called “pratyahara” which is often interpreted to mean losing or giving up attachment to sensory experiences. This is sometimes taken to mean killing involvement in the senses, or controlling them. Something anti-sensual, like that. This has led to bizarre practices in some cases, running away from natural experiences of the world. This is a limited interpretation of pratyahara. What pratyahara really means is “expansion inward of the senses,” meaning we sense more and more divine qualities inside that are initially more charming than physical sensuality, so we are naturally drawn to them. We do not reject physical sensuality. We just begin to operate on a broader spectrum of sensuality as our nervous system opens inside. In time, even our physical senses are heightened as inner sensuality opens up, and our sensuality is seen to be broad a continuum. All the while, we keep up our daily practices, which are the underlying cause of the transformation. The rise of pure silent bliss consciousness, a fundamental constituent in this process, keeps us beyond the grip of ego attachment to the widening sensory experience.
Some traditions use inner sensory experiences for practice. There is nothing wrong with this if it is a tradition we have chosen, and it works for us. But as you said, sometimes the experiences are there, and sometimes they are not, depending on the course of purification in various parts of the nervous system. What we do in advancedyogapractices are global practices that will be purifying all of our nervous system, no matter what else may be going on inside. That is why we use meditation and spinal breathing first. These will do the global housecleaning, and we are not dependent on any particular experiences coming up in any particular part of our spiritual anatomy.
Sooner or later, everything will open up. When experiences come up, great. We enjoy them. In time we will have them twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When they come up in practices, we just stay with the practice we are doing. When they come up while we are in daily activity, we can enjoy them however we like. Our perception of our inner and outer world will change very much for the better. This is the fruit of practice, not the practice itself.
Once meditation and spinal breathing are well established, we can add on practices for stimulating from both ends of the spinal nerve to awaken it to ecstatic conductivity, which spreads out through our entire nervous system automatically. These practices have been given already in previous lessons.
In upcoming lessons we will look at additional practices for moving prana more from both ends of the spinal nerve toward our center, our heart.
The guru is in you.