Moving Inward
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Moving Inward

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of the eight limbs of Yoga.

I remember when this facet of my practice started opening up back in 2007. It was like a whole new world opened. It was overwhelming at first because I realized that as far and wide as the Universe opens up outside of us and around us it also opens up to the same depth within us and through us.

With Prathyahara we draw the senses inward to bring attention to our inner world instead of expending energy exclusively on the outer world. This inward attention allows us to start studying the nature of our own minds. We can start to see patterns. Patterns that are healthy and support us. Patterns that are unhealthy and keep us stuck.

We can begin watching how these different patterns show up in our life, where they came from, how they influence us and how we might actually become free from them. An incredible realization I had as I sat with myself was seeing that these patterns happen THROUGH us not TO us.

When I recognized that these patterns happen through us I was able to work with them with more love, curiosity and compassion instead of shame and embarrassment. I saw that indeed these patterns were hereditary, societal, cultural and not something I should be ashamed of at all. I could gently with curiosity study them and learn from them.

The most empowering moment was when I started to see that these patterns don’t happen TO ME they happen THROUGH me. To have that self-awareness and insight gave me a new found confidence that led me to start the process of disentangling myself from patterns I had been bound by for decades. I’m still unraveling. There are so so many patterns. Many are so deeply ingrained that it takes tremendous awareness to just catch them! And once you catch them it doesn’t mean you are free from them it just means you brought the pattern into the light of your awareness and in my own experience I find moving forward I can usually catch when I am in the pattern more easily.

The whole process of pratyahara is so much softer today than it used to be. I notice there is just so much more kindness and curiosity around the process versus judgment. And I learn every step of the way. And I am grateful.