8 Days of Living yoga: Day 6: Pratyahara to Dharana

Pratyahara: ‘withdrawal of the senses’-  I really wasnt sure how i was going to tackle this one today, Easter Sunday, chocolate all around; right now my senses are involved in sucking a Thorntons chocolate with honeycomb pieces, and i am not really ready to withdraw from it!!

Luckily, with my OH being home, we went out to Formby beach today and while i stayed in the car to feed baby i managed almost an hour’s meditation time ( with interruptions to feed, burp baby, change position, and when Dad and Tot came back and showed me what theyd been doing!) It was blissful. I remembered a meditation technique from Uma Dinsmore- Tuli’s book ( i think called feeding meditation) where you gradually draw inwards. The way i used it was to focus first on sounds far away, like aeroplanes and people shouting to each other in the distance; then sounds close by, then the sounds and sensations of baby feeding, then the breath rushing in and out under my nose, then the breath inside the throat where i narrowed to produce ‘Ujayi breath’, then going inwards still. At this point i cant describe the experience without taking away from it , but i tried to imagine the sense input (sounds and feelings that i could still register), drifting away from me into the distance, and my own awareness first expanding in the heart, and then expanding into something infinite within. It was pretty hard to detach, and to quieten the mind, and i realised how out of practice i am with this kind of lone , uninterrupted (ish!) meditation! To come out of it i made sure i did this gradually and used and 1,2,3 count where i used 3,2,1 to go into it; especially useful when i needed to return my attention to baby for a minute and then come back to where i was before. I felt amazing afterwards; so calm, grounded and centred. I managed a brief and meaningful walk along the shore, looking at the brisk waves and appreciating the power of the sea ( and felt a strong connection between my recent experience of labour and birth, and the power of the sea), while Daddy held the fort in the car!

Also when i came out of the medi i briefly saw how many sensory distractions there are around me and how tied up in them i am. And how flitting/ distracted my mind and experience is much of the time. I can safely say i am well back in sensory land now! It says in the Yoga Sutras that it takes years to become practiced at this method, and even then it only takes a moment to be drawn back in. So i think i can feel pleased that i managed to connect with the concept for a short time!

Dharana: Concentration

Having read the description of this as ‘ the practice of concentration, which precedes meditation, slowing down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object, energy centre or sound’ , i am wondering if i have ever actually meditated?! Or Just done Dharana? I think the meditations/ relaxations that i teach in my classes are working towards dharana; its good to be reminded that this is just a stage in working towards a deeper meditation. And of course its all a path, to be walked many many times in practice.

Tomorrow i have a busy busy day teaching baby and toddler yoga at a family fayre with both my little ones, and then will be on my own again from the afternoon. I wonder if i will create some time to reflect on and/ or practice dharana! Gdnite (: