Sutra 2.55: tatah parama vashyata indriyanam
With such an abundance of energy it follows that there is complete mastery (in the sense of ever-vigilant understanding) over the senses, as all psychological conflicts and confused movements of thought and energy cease, and the senses function intelligently without disorder and disharmony, inhibitions and excitation. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Thence [results] the supreme obedience of the sense-organs. Translation by Georg Feuerstein
Your body is a magnificent marvel of constant monitoring. Without your conscious interference, every system in your body treads on daily towards homeostasis. It pulls in information about the external environment through your senses, checking each bit for its effects on the balance of your internal environment. And because it is easiest to maintain homeostasis through routine and minimal change, your body has incredible habit forming powers! If you get used to eating a spoonful of peanut butter every evening as a form of dessert (guilty!), every evening after dinner, your body will send signals of craving whether you need that peanut butter for nutrition or not.
Through our habits, our senses –both internal and external– can mislead us, or at the very least give us conflicting information. So, while, it’s true, you “need” that spoon of PB to satisfy a craving, it’s also true that you do not need that PB to satisfy hunger. Which truth do you listen to?
Rather than choose a truth, you can have your peanut butter and eat it, too.
Through the practice of becoming aware of your habits, of becoming conscious to your every move and urge and response, you will begin to know your senses well enough to understand the craving and do with it what you will. When the rare day comes along that you don’t really want the PB, you may have built up enough knowledge of your experience to exercise the control it will undoubtedly take to ignore one sensory experience and give in to another.
Perhaps the experience of pratyahara is the bliss of releasing yourself from external sensing, and perhaps it is also an introduction to yourself, habits and all, so that every move you make in life is filled to the brim with consciousness.
That consciousness? That’s your SUPER POWER. What forces of good you CHOOSE to uphold through your super power is entirely up to you.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.