Pratayahara & Amtrak: Courage & Grace Day Four


Today, our focus was on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. Naturally, for my limb-du-jour (I know that sounds strange), I chose pratayahara, the withdrawing of the senses. To be honest, I think that this was such a natural choice for me because I had just arrived in the West Coast from NYC, a place where my senses were constantly on overload. 

When I think of pratayahara I think mainly of being in transit. This summer, when I was really overwhelmed with a teaching job, I would take the long subway ride home in NYC. I would get on the train, put in my headphones (physically blocking off one of my senses and connections to the sounds outside myself), and close my eyes for the duration of the ride. I needed to go in, in order to move outward. 

Recently, I became obsessed with a new program Amtrak (the train company) offers: a writer’s residency. From their website:

Amtrak Residency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will have use of a private sleeping roomette, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Onboard meals will also be offered to all residents in the dining car aboard the train.

There is so much we can accomplish when in that liminal space…so much creativity we can harness when we go inward (inside a train car, a subway track, a plane) and withdraw temporarily from the outside world with all its demands. This real-life application of this ancient yogic limb was my “little nugget,” as Jasmine says, that carried my Dharma Talk through.

Progress was being made.

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