In the eight limbs of raja yoga, the panchva (fifth) anga is pratyahara. Literally translated as “withdrawal of the senses”, we are left with an image that is limited in its meaning.
In fact, it is better to classify it as “double-pointed” vision. We need our senses directed outwards to negotiate our pathway through the myriad experiences they bring us. Pratyahara would then be about simultaneously looking inwards to integrate those experiences!
What we find within is the world of perception. Perceptions are driven by energetic forces so deeply buried within our psyche, that they manifest first as emotional responses, then mental activity and finally physical reactions.
By bringing our attention to these perceptive states, we give ourselves an opportunity to research our own nature and trace it backwards through the various layers that we are, to a place where we come face to face with the Truth of us: this is Svatantra!
This journey began for me personally some years ago when I fell critically ill. Therefore, my journey began at the physical level. Ayurveda seemed the most appropriate tool at that time.
Since Ayurveda sees us as dosha, dhatu, mala and agni, that is what I worked with: settling the winds, fires and waters of my physical being. This included building bodily tissues, firing up my digestion and intellect and paying proper respect to releasing toxins.
In time, I was able to deepen my self-study through the yogic vision of my anatomy- that of the chitta. It is very powerful to see ourselves as Mind and to pay heed to the various undercurrents that run through it!
Patanjali quantifies them as five vrttis: correct perception, incorrect perception, imagined perceptions, perceptions in our sleep state and perceptions that filter our memory banks. Not having the wisdom to “get it” right away, I found my work in the second chapter, sadhana pada.
Working with the eight limbs began to take me into heightened states of awareness but I also found that my life was still swaying precariously in tides.
And my physical being, the mirror that reflects what is truly happening underneath, was sending loud signals that there was still much work to be done.
I found the seeds of osteoarthritis, vata dushti in the blood and emotional clingings that could only be super-refined samskaras!
Continuing my practices in Ayurveda and Yoga as the stable ground upon which to build, I began to explore the meaning of Tantra.
What I found were many conflicting views on what it actually is and each person defining it seemed to speak with perfect authority!
What we do know is that tantrics are responsible for recognizing the chakra system as well as the 72,000 nadis we are said to be composed of.
So I knew that they were working at deeper energetic states and therefore the practice of pancha makara (a tantric practice) could be useful on my own journey.
To assimilate it with my now inbuilt models of yama and niyama, I preferred the virya pathway- that of seeing the value of the outer as well as the inner practices.
Next I began to seek the correlations between all these systems and found even more amazing Truths about our selves in the Upanishads.
Known as the Vedanta, they should not be thought of as “the ending of the Vedas” but as the unlocking of their coded secrets of who and what we are! Finding the pancha maya (later called koshas by Shankara, the 10th century bhakta and mystic) was another amazing revelation!
Everything seemed to be coming together to form a perfect mystic puzzle.
Yet, something was missing. I knew all the answers were contained in these wisdom writings but I did not have the key yet.
At this time, I entered a tenuous relationship that churned all my emotional undercurrents and regurgitated them to the surface of my consciousness.
When she left what I had become: a frightened child; she had handed me yet another key. It was a book.
What had been missing was in this book: something similar in substance to the Upanishads themselves.
When the Vedas were no longer comprehensible, the new breed of seers: rishis, captured their essence in the Upanishads.
Now, another new breed of rising seers were exploring the Alchemy of our Consciousness and the language it was being revealed in is the one we all speak!
The language of our urbanized and conflicted world.
The missing link, for me, was the correlation between the vedic shariras and the Four Bodies we are: Vibrational, Emotional (where the urgent work is), Mental and Physical and I had found it.
One other, last key-link was still not connected: the concept of the ego did not match the Ahamkara of the ancient traditions.
But in the end, with subtle clues from this very book, from gleanings in Eckhart Tolle’s “New Earth” and finally a virtual explosion of in-sight at a lecture by my guru, that connection too was made! As much of an obstacle as it can become, when it re-cognizes buddhi, it is re-balanced into serving our well-Being instead of being our un-Doing...Ahamkara become the I-former not the I-doer…
I am awed, overjoyed, humbled and nervous about this Universal Rise in Consciousness that is being expressed by so many of the Mayan elders, shamanic leaders, writers such as Jack Kornfield, Eckhart Tolle, Michael Brown; speakers like Marianne Williamson and Reverend Beckwith, alchemists like Dr. Svoboda and gurus like Dr. Vasant Lad. And there are more, growing in number everyday!
Through them, light is also being shone on the commonality of all Spiritual Disciplines, not just Vedic. I humbly seek to add my own voice…humbly yes, but also fully alive to the Truths that I have found in my own personal journeys and the way they have shaped it into accelerated mode.
There is beauty now in all my feelings…as one of these amazing new breed of seers has put it: instead of trying to feel better, I am starting to get better at feeling!
It is now my fervent belief that a new Buddha is arising, but to meet our own lightning speed connected world, it is not a He or a She but a Collective Consciousness Buddha: a joyous, innocent, creative Buddha: Svantantraye Buddham is the Being I see it as…may we all be a part of it!
Starting on Sunday Feb 21, I will offer workshops on how this new paradigm correlates to the great Vedic Sciences. At them, together, we will practice these Truths experientially, ending often in a powerful Yantra/Mantra Meditation!
Below are the Fliers for the workshop as they happen: In the Light!
Sva: of the Self/Tantra: expansion & liberation.
Sunday February 21st: Dancing Shiva Yoga & Ayurveda
7466 Beverly Bl, Los Angeles (323) 934-8332: 2-5PM $30 by Feb 14/$35 after…
Sunday March 21st: Private Home in San Diego County: By invitation: Please contact Jutta Hecht at: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 760.580.2524:
SOLD OUT…WAITING LIST OPEN…
May 1: Svatantra: Alchemy Of Consciousness: Yoga Works, Costa Mesa
Stay tuned for more in May, including Salt Lake City & Thousand Oaks!