In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna to stand in his dharma as the greatest warrior.
Arjuna’s fight is our fight. It is an inner battle, and on a yogic level it is the struggle for greater self-knowledge that we all must walk through. Just like Arjuna, the student of yoga, must struggle to know the inner light within her/himself and then in turn learn to bring that light into his/her daily life.
Go Out? No, Go In.
So often in life we are taught to go outward. Each of us receives praise for our outer accomplishments, outer beauty, material or outer growth, etc. This is lovely. But while yogis recognize these as valid within the realm of the manifest world, for the sages, focusing outwardly only is seen as missing the aim of life. For the sages, feeling the luminous inner self is the greatest realization.
How to Access the Inner
Access the inner? “But how?” you might say… To access the inner reverse the general flow of your energy from all the time outer to some inner. Spend some time each day going in. What this means is practice contemplation, meditation, and absorption.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 58, Shri Krishna gives Arjuna guidance on how to work with the senses, which primarily move outward. He says, “When the yogi-in-training withdraws the senses completely from the objects of sense, just like a turtle withdraws its limbs into its shell, his prajna, wisdom, is established and stands firm.” The idea in this verse is two-fold. 1) To learn the skill of pulling your senses inward, and 2) Standing in your highest wisdom.
Questions Naturally Arise
As with any yogic practice, questions naturally arise, such as, ‘How can I withdraw my senses like a turtle?’ or ‘What is the value of withdrawing my senses?’ In other words, what do I really get from this?
Key things to watch for when you practice withdrawing the senses:
- Always work within your threshold, not beyond it. This means you need to sense your capacity and start where you are at then push your limit just a drop to extend your practice.
- A fear of aloneness may rise. Be aware of it and work with it. It will come and go. Remind yourself that you are safe and though you are exploring something, which requires inner aloneness, you are not all alone in the world. Remind yourself that you are practicing feeling your inner life.
- The mind may rebel a little as its general movement has been to move outward. Support the mind in trusting in your exploring what it feels like to draw the senses in and feel inner quiet.
- Energy may build inside, be with that and don’t make meaning. Instead feel.
- Chant the above BG Chapter 2, Verse 58. Read the translation then sit quietly for 8 minutes focusing on drawing your senses in. Feel what you feel.
Enjoy working with this verse and teaching from the Bhagavad Gita this month!