Pratyahara for an Active Mind

After a decade of practicing the physical aspects of yoga, I got bored.

Little did I know, the Asana is only one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.

Building my body into peak physical condition relied on an intense Yoga practice, a love of Parkour, and an 18-month love affair with P90X.

After having the body of an elite athlete, I grew restless; it wasn’t enough.

Thankfully, I found the other seven limbs of Ashtanga.

One of them has been able to tame my voracious thoughts.

What Pratyahara Does for your Mind

Pratyahara is the bridge between the external limbs of yoga, and the internal limbs.

Pranayama (breathing), Asana (postures), and 3 other limbs address the body.

Three limbs address the mind of the yogi.

Pratyahara is the connection, when you acquire a level of detachment from your senses and your thoughts.

Taming the Monkey Mind

We have an inner monologue that observes and interprets everything that is happening to us, or that has happened to us, or that could be happening to us. When left alone, the mind will enter a state of trance, where it is so busy observing and interpreting that you forget to just BE.

I have a particularly strong monkey mind, which I have always been proud of.

By letting my mind run unchecked, I continually stumble across new correlations, due to the Law of Integrative Complexity. The more data that my mind has to sift through, the more connections I can make, and this makes my monkey mind, in a sense, the midwife of my copious ideas.

I keep journals full of ideas, so that when I want something interesting to work on, I can flip through my idea books and select a great idea to implement. I come up with decent ideas every day. I come up with incredible ideas once a week. And once every couple of months, I stumble on a gamechanger idea.

As much as I enjoy this process, I’m getting drowned out by the noise.

I could spend a lifetime working on just the ideas I already have, and never be at a loss for something interesting and productive to do.

Now, I am dealing with the unique challenge of turning down the volume on my most productive and intriguing pasttime: letting my mind wander.

The best ideas come when you’re not looking for them.

When I’m doing the dishes, or exercising, or walking, or bouncing my baby boy on my knee, these are the times when ideas strike.

I have a voice recorder on my iPhone, so I can quickly record the idea and move back into my internal surfing of mental detritus.

I can keep all of my ideas safely recorded and protected from the ghost of forgetting, but by remaining in a default state of mental wander, I reduce myself to a computational machine, always running to sort through various ideas and sensations and concepts to fit them together and find an interesting conversation.

My mind is constantly solving puzzles.

Yet, I yearn for the solitude and quiet that is achieved through yoga. Without regular visits to a state of neutrality, my entire life becomes ruptured and chaotic, because my state of mind has never calmed down.

So now, I dedicate myself to Pratyahara.

It is a simple meditation, deceptively simple.

Breathe.

Close two eyes.

Open the Third Eye.

Focus on the Ajna Chakra.

Hold.

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