As I compose this post, I am without internet amidst an eastern US devastated by a storm that’s soaked cities and left millions with no-power. I started thinking (and planning) for the possibility. It’s sobering to try and figure out how to maneuver when Mother Nature decides to let us know how small we are. Being without power can be a debilitating, frightening experience. I can only imagine how the northeast is managing right now. But maybe there’s a glimmer of opportunity to embrace being unplugged.
How many times have you resolved to watch less television; unplug everything and read more? Taking advantage of the silence that a power outage brings can be unfettering. Without the electromagnetic pulse of the city and your electronics, you might feel yourself unfurl a little. Stepping onto the yoga mat without lights or sound, you can truly tap into your body and focus on nothing but your practice and the present moment. And you can generate your own heat.
When its pitch black, it’s like your eyes are closed. And when there’s no sound, the silence can be deafening. Withdrawal of the senses or ‘pratyahara’ is one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Pratyahara is the 5th limb of yoga and it is concerned with taking us from the outside to the inside, with withdrawing the senses, so that the yogi, can travel within and find the Self. And yet, most of us never go without maxing out two or three senses at once all day long. Ironically, over-stimulating our senses with external stimuli actually dulls them and we slip below consciousness. So, without background noise or light pollution, your senses become heightened and you become more present. As you listen to the silence that’s always underneath the noise, your mind can become still very quickly.
If you close your eyes and move through your yoga practice, you quickly become attuned to how your energy interacts with the energy around you, and you learn to trust your body. When you meditate in darkness and silence, your mind is free to purify itself without distraction from the outside. You might even try walking (carefully) around your house and notice how your mind does not wander, it is focused maneuvering the body so it can get around in the dark safely.
If you’re without power, stay warm and dry with loved ones. And maybe use it as an opportunity to retreat within. If you DO have power be grateful, send love to those who don’t, and unplug on purpose. Turn off all the lights, unplug the TV, stereo, computer and clock; light some candles and retreat into yourself.
– Your Charmed Yogi