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כבר 17 שנה


הוראת יוגה


מלב אל לב

Pratyahara

                                                                                     פרק קודם  תוכן

Chapter 12

Early in the morning three – flesh, soul, and the restless spirit say goodbye…
Svetlana Kekova

 

«Svavishaya asamprayoge chittasya svarupa anukara iv indriyanam pratyaharah» – «In the absence of communication with objects, consciousness follows its essential condition» ("Yoga Sutras", II.54).

«2.22. Eyes and other (sense organs) wander among corresponding sensory subjects. Their diversion from these subjects is called the «withdrawal of the senses» (pratyahara).

2.23. Equally as the sun, reaching the third watch of the day, and so the yogin, reaching the third stage (of yoga), should remove any intellectual change (vikara).

2.24. Just as a tortoise pulls its limbs inside of the shell and so the yogin should eliminate feelings inside himself» («Goraksha Paddhati»).

«Then pratyahara goes which is of five kinds. It consists in the removal of sense organs from corresponding objects. To see in all observable the Atman is pratyahara. Non-attachment to the yield of daily actions is pratyahara. Detachment toward all sense objects is pratyahara. Dharana, carried out in eighteen places is pratyahara. It should be carried out on feet, toes, ankles, calves, knees, hips, anus, penis, navel, heart, throat, palate, nose, eyes, between eyebrows, forehead and head, doing it one after another upwards and downwards» («Shandilya Upanishad»).

«Pratyahara is the third physiological stage of the seven-step yoga, the last from the preparatory and auxiliary ones. Pratyahara is translated as "procrastination", "distraction" («The Book about Bhishma», p. 240)

«In the absence of communication with their (usual) objects (of the external world – V.B.), sense organs as if follow the internal form of consciousness, andit is the only distraction» («Classical Yoga», p. 146).

After four centuries Vyasa had specified: «When consciousness ceases to function in the ordinary way as it happens in sleep or a faint, sense organs "flake out". When it comes to pratyahara, it means perception reversal (switching of sense organs from the outer world on the body and its processes) and sensory deprivation – blocking of access of external stimuli to the brain, not loss of consciousness or a trance, but exactly the termination of access of hindrances from without.

The first stage of pratyahara – attention transfer from the world around to the own body – is realized in the practice of asanas. In some variants of Buddhist meditation the attention is directed exactly on the spontaneous production of consciousness. The biocurrents of the brain of the known yogin Svami Rama, devoted to a deep contemplation, were registered with simultaneously influencing on his open eyes by powerful light flashes; at the same time EEG has showed that the vision "does not notice" this influence.

The person sees the surrounding due to micromovements (tremor) of the eyeballs with frequency from eighty up to hundred-twenty hertz. If to stop this movement relative to the object of contemplation, a light grey spot remains in sight on its place. In addition: « … The orientation of attention on perception of acoustical or visual stimuli considerably changes the figure of excitation of the brain structures» («Magic of the Brain and Labyrinths of Life», p. 108).

The texts assert that even in the condition of a deep mental rest, the yogin keeps the perceived image (it is again a matter of those who sees "pictures" by eyes closed). And since any moment it is impossible to  differentiate perceptual process, percept, and its image, which "is preserved", stiffens on the screen of consciousness. Conditions of pratyaharaappearance are a full physical immovability, maximum deep relaxation, and unilaterality of the attention. SSS asserts that meditation is impossible without an abnormally strong (according to the European scale of concepts) relaxation of mind and body. Ability to relax deeply is for a yoga disciple the same what skill in handling of integrated and differential calculus is for a mathematician.

In due time, experiments in sensory deprivation were carried out both in Russia (Gazenko IMBP – Institute of Medical-Biological Problems) and abroad. Stanislav Lem had anticipated them by episode with «devil’s bath» in one of the stories of his cycle "Navigator Pirks". Results of these experiments had puzzled. It was found out, that thewatching consciousness of the subject is for a long time not capable to do without external stimuli in combination with immovability of the body. The more so because the testers did not possess skills of introspection. The person was awake, lyingwithout stirring, in salty water with temperature of +36,6°C, it did not allow him to sink, eyes and ears have been closed. If the imaginative thinking was absent, on the screen of consciousness there were flashes, flickers, light fields, etc. Further there were sensations of the body loss, change of its form, reduction or growth of separate parts, illusion of flight, rotation, etc. Then that sort of things began what does not have the name, and the person like a bat out of hell jumped, in panic, out from deprivation. The critical residence time in it proved to be absolutely individual, dependent on type of representation and general stability of the nervous system. It is interesting, that the sensory vacuum was never the purpose of meditation in yoga (especially in Tantra yoga). On the contrary, the habitual stream of stimuli from the outside was necessarily replaced by mythological symbolics, having been developed in detail.

«The sudden enlightenment does not come without a thorough training. The future Saint (having reached enlightenment by means of yoga – V.B.) completes a protracted course of … training, studying all details of a corresponding philosophical concept closely; and then at the moment of a sudden inspiration, that, what he before had tried to understand only theoretically, arises before him with clearness of the vital reality.

In the Mahayana, an absolutely other than in Hinayana picture, corresponding to the theoretical doctrine of this religion, appears before the internal look of the Bodhisattva» ("Selected works on Buddhism", p. 215).

And further: «Illusion is neutralized by the philosophical enlightenment, but a resolute and final step, which forever stops the empirical life and transforms an individual into the absolute, is carried out by yoga» (ibid, p. 256).   

So, pratyahara is a certain stage of perceptionalteration, its switching on other "rails", a dividing line between external (bahiranga) and internal  (antaranga) parts of yoga of Patanjali. It is attention keeping (unilaterality) in practice of asanas on the body and everything, what occurs in it. When practice is worked through, so the attention is transferred to the content of mind itself. German physiologist D. Ebert, the admirer of Buddhism, studying for years yoga, marks: «The ancient Sanskrit word "pratyahara" could be defined today as a functional interruption of afferent communications. Such interruption is, apparently, a character feature of the concentrating meditation. As concerns the revealing meditations (where the object of passive concentration either is outside, or it is not defined at all), so the attention is simply raised and directed outside. The alpha rhythm, arising at the same time, is, obviously, connected with the stabilized image on the retina» ("Physiological Aspects of Yoga" p. 103-104).

Anyway, pratyahara is already realized in practice of asanas, it is a necessary stage of yoga which is in its «pure form» actually not submitted. When in pauses between asanas or directly in asana itself consciousness "floats away", though practicing realizes that he does not sleep, it is the onlypratyahara, passing in the premeditative condition.

                                                                             פרק הבאה