I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.

In this 136th verse and 110 dharana of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva says:

All sensory gates are sources of pain and pleasure

Withdrawing from the senses and their inputs

Move into Shiva space


Most commentaries on this verse say it is about the fifth stage of yoga called pratyahara, withdrawal from senses. True, it is. Question is about how to achieve this stage? Why is it the first stage of internal Yoga? Why does it follow Pranayama, the fourth and last stage of external yoga? Unless one goes into these details, even a regular practitioner of yoga will not sustain this state.

Let us start with the simple practice of shutting down our senses. Let us say we are in a zero gravity space, suspended, eyes blindfolded, ears plugged, suspended without any part of the body touching anything, with nothing to smell or taste. Theoretically, we are in total withdrawal of sensory perceptions. What next?

Try this, and you will find even without any external inputs to your sensory organs, your mind can recreate audio and video tapes from your head. Every meditator, however much a beginner, knows this. So, pratyahara is not about shutting down the senses in terms of perception of external inputs alone. That is important, but not enough. How does one still the mind? That is the million dollar question.

Some wise men advise nothingness or sunya meditation. There is no such thing. It is maya, illusion. As long as we are in body mind, thoughts arise, and mind moves. Stillness of mind is not about having no thoughts. It is about being disengaged from thoughts. Let there be thoughts. Witness them without being drawn into them. Be the observer, not the actor. Do not enter the drama. Watch, witness and leave. Let go.

If one practices this, the fifth state of pratyahara can automatically lead into the eight state of samadhi with no intervening states of dharana and dhyana. One will pass through these, but with ease,  and sometimes not knowing.

In advanced meditation classes I conduct, I deliberate;y keep putting the lights on and off. The mere click of switches and the light coming on and off disturb some people, even experienced mediators proud of their skills. When they complain, I ask them innocently whether yoga and meditation is supposed to make them blind, deaf and dumb?  if you truly meditate, nothing happening outside or inside should disturb you. This is not something that you need to train yourself to do as the last stage. From today, you can become aware of hat is happening around you and within you, and decide that you will have nothing to do  with them in terms getting engaged in.

You may still act, and yet, you do not need to get into the drama. Following Krishna’s advice in Bhagavad Gita, you can surrender the outcome to him, and focus only on the action. Difficult, yes; Impossible, no. If you attained a 10 day Vipassana program, you can learn this. If you learn yoga nidra, you can practice this.