ततः परमा वश्यतेन्द्रियाणाम्
tataḥ paramā vaśyatā-indriyāṇām
Then (tataḥ) follows the highest (paramā) mastery (vaśyatā) of the senses (indriyāṇām).
PRACTICAL LIVING Patañjali ends the second chapter by telling us what happens when we practice pratyāhāra – awareness of the senses. Once we understand the power of the senses, we have a greater understanding of how the mind works and are able to control the senses better. Thoughts and emotions are in constant motion – sometimes we feel good, other times we don’t. Sometimes we are very focused, other times the thoughts are foggy. Usually, when we feel unbalanced we turn outward in order to feel better. We turn to the internet, television, food, cigarettes, alcohol, sex, our phones…etc. The practice of pratyāhāra discussed previously teaches us to watch the tendency we have to engage with external objects continuously for fulfillment. The more we watch this tendency, the deeper our understanding of this strong tide that pulls us into an ocean of escape and attachment that fools us into believing that pleasure equals happiness.
The more we do this, (yes, it takes a lot of practice), we begin to find a less exciting yet more sustainable type of peace within. Gradually, we become experts at watching the objects pulling us outward and we step back and simply watch the tide from the top of a rock, as opposed to getting desperately caught in it. Slowly we become greater masters at turning our ‘eyes’ inward.
IN THE YOGA WORLD Some ancient yogic texts suggested yogis practice indoors with the least amount of distractions. It sounds harsh. Why do this when we could practice at the beach during a spectacular sunset? Well, since the mind is hardwired for experiencing that which is outside of us, we are encouraged to spend a conscious time of our day avoiding distractions and focusing inward. That does not mean we can’t go out and enjoy beautiful sunsets – not only is nature beautiful to experience with all of our senses, but for many people it is also a conscious time to connect to something bigger. It simply means that we spend some time everyday using tools that help us let go from the outside and remind ourselves of what is inside. The more we remember, the more we enjoy spending that time everyday and the easier it gets to watch the external tide the rest of the day.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Yesterday I told this incredible man how peaceful I felt he was. His relationship with his family is loving and filled with joy. Fergus has shown me the tenderness of the human heart, the depths of self-reflection, and the contagiousness of laughter. His desire to change, to transform and to be more present warms my heart. He shows me year after year the power human beings have to become better versions of themselves. Thanks Fergs, for all the loving and laughter-filled moments we share. Love you man!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will discuss concentration!