Transforming Fear to Joy

The Yoga of Self-Realization — Training the 5 Senses

Our five physical senses — taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell — are constantly attempting to seduce us along a path of pleasure pursuit and pain avoidance. Not to say either of these directions is good or bad in themselves. However, when we commit to them without discrimination, our decision-making is skewed toward only pleasurable experiences, which means we miss out on the abundance of learning associated with effort, challenge and even, pain. In excess, pleasure can and does lead to addiction such as in substance abuse of alcohol, drugs and food. These addictions to physical sensation prohibit self-realization.

When you let your mind heed the Siren call of the senses, they will carry away your better judgment as storms drive a boat off its safe-charted course to certain doom.

Use all your power to set the senses free from attachment and aversion alike, and live in the full wisdom of the Self. Eknath Easwaran, The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living, Volume 1: The End of Sorrow

Self-realization, or what has been called Truth, Higher Self, Atman, God, Spirit, Creator, Pure Awareness, etc., cannot be tasted, touched, seen, heard, or smelled. The five senses are vehicles for our Consciousness or Pure Awareness to experience our inner and outer world. Only by going beyond the physical senses can we fully realize the sixth sense of intuition, our True Self, and experience the benefits of meditation.

In yoga, we practice withdrawing our five senses from both our bodily sensations as well as from objects and experiences in the outer world. This practice of Pratyahara is often taught during Savasana (Corpse Pose) at the end of an asana sequence and prior to meditation. Listed below is an example of a sensory withdrawal practice for you to experiment with during Savasana. Use the Savasana variation demonstrated below to deepen your sensory withdrawal experience.

– Create a loop in your belt and hang it over the chair seat.
– Place your occipital bones (back bottom of the skull) into the loop.
– Your head should feel well supported and stable as it rests in traction.

1) Sight (Eyes). By closing our eyes, we immediately reduce distraction from the outer world. However, inner tension can still be present surrounding our