To consider pratyahara in spring can seem counter intuitive. Pratyahara syncs with the mood of fall or winter – the hibernating, inward times of the year. Yet, spring can perhaps be the best time to work with pratyahara practice.
Right in the midst of the warmer rays of the sun, the coloring of nature, and the rising call of birds drawing us out and out – can we balance? Can we do all of the things we’ve been waiting to do, for what might seem like a very long snowy cold time? AND can we cultivate being exhausted from our activities out of a fullness of experience, rather than a draining one?
We’ve all experienced both of those types of exhaustion – from fullness, and from being drained. A single hour spent with a certain person can demonstrate this easily to us. The end of a full day of activity hinges on this. It also directly affects our willingness to repeat the activity. Scientific studies have shown that the closing of an activity most directly influences how we remember the entire event.
Pratyahara as an off-the-mat practice (fueled by focused on the mat sessions), is a tool that can leave us feeling balanced at the end of the day, and ready to continue our explorations all spring/year long.
The Flying World
Be aware of how you’re expending your energy. And not in the take-a-child’s-pose-when-you-get-tired kind of way. In the nuanced way of the senses – how are your senses being drawn out without you even being away? Those of you who have ever walked down 34th Street, a mall, or 5th Avenue and found yourself at the end needing several items you hadn’t even thought of at the start, have experienced how easily we are drawn out by the world around us. Our senses are designed to interact with the world in a finely tuned manner that coordinates our every thought, movement, and breath.
“The moving world flies toward this sensitive instrument from all directions.” Stephen Batchelor
And without us being aware of this – it flies off with us. To remain grounded cultivate an awareness of how often your eyes move from object to object (at the ocean for example, try to either follow one wave the whole way in, or take in the entire panorama of ocean before you, instead of jumping from wave to wave), take note of how often smell dictates your eating or destination choices, be aware of how much temperature affects your mental activity and mood – and the energy expended to mediate it, can you choose what you listen to as carefully as you choose what to wear or how you decorate your home? Really dig into how you are consciously using your senses.
Stephen Batchelor continues:
“As soon as it makes contact, it resonates inside you with an ineffable but distinctive tone. The experience of the world is colored with a rich range of feelings and moods which we cannot help having. Each experience registers somewhere along a spectrum between ecstasy and agony. Pay attention to this tonal quality, observing how it permeates both body and mind – but is singularly difficult to pin down.”
Trees are excellent examples. They have stored energy all winter – remaining inward. Then spring arrives and they bud, bloom, branch, root, and grow at phenomenal rates. They are drawing in sun and water with great vigor. They bloom for an entire season, but never wilt at the end of the day. Can we do that?