The Chopra Center Newsletter     Apr 2012 Edition 


This year we have carefully selected a special theme for each of our three Seduction of Spirit retreats. Each Seduction of Spirit includes the core elements of meditation, yoga, sutra instruction by Deepak, and other practices for inner calm and expanded awareness. In addition, each individual retreat will feature new experiences, individual and group activities, guest experts, and life-transforming tools and techniques related to the retreat’s guiding theme.

Music and Meditation
April 22–28, 2012
La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, CA

Music and Meditation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the gifts of music and meditation, as you commune with the divine music in your heart and the inner silence of your soul.

Pathway to Happiness
July 9–15, 2012
Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Chicago, IL

Happiness is something we all desire, yet it eludes many of us because we don’t know where to look. At this July's Seduction of Spirit, Deepak Chopra; author Mike Dooley; and master Chopra Center instructors will guide you in discovering your own pathway to happiness, which always lies within.

Discover Your Purpose
October 29–November 4, 2012
La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, CA

At this unique retreat, learn the timeless practices for connecting to your deepest self, that wise aspect of your being that knows who you are, why you’re here, and how you can use your gifts for the greatest benefit and fulfillment of everyone in your life – including yourself.

Yoga Practice: Return to Stillness

In a world that used to be much quieter, there is a rush to fill every moment with stimulation. From gas pumps with embedded video screens  playing commercials and last night’s “sound bites,” to the banks of TVs permanently broadcasting news and sports in airport boarding areas, to the stream of mobile devices that entice us to “stay connected” 24/7 – a nonstop flood of mental, emotional, and sensory impressions can occupy us from morning til night – if we allow it. Over time, the noisy outside world can drown out the quiet voice of our inner self, leaving us feeling stuck, lost, or disconnected from our purpose in life.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient yogic sages recognized the value of  taking time to withdraw our senses from the world in order to put our attention on our inner experience. The yoga practice known as pratyahara is the process of temporarily turning away from the world of intense, externally imposed stimulations so that we  can tune into the subtle elements of sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell.

Pratyahara can be seen as sensory fasting. The word is comprised of  the term prati meaning “away,” and ahara meaning “food.” If you don’t eat for a while, the next meal you take will usually taste exceptionally delicious. When your senses are withdrawn for a time, you are able to tune into the subtler tastes and smells. Yoga suggests that the same is true for all your experiences in the world.

Cultivating Sensory Awareness
There are many pratyahara practices that you can use. They can be elaborate as going on an extended retreat in a mountain cabin or as simple as setting up an altar or comfortable space where you can meditate each day and settle into more expanded states of awareness

The Chopra Center’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga program offers students the opportunity to delve deeply into the energizing power  of pratyahara.  You can also practice at home by consciously activating subtle sensory impressions on the screen of your awareness.

Ask a friend to read these descriptions to you while your eyes are closed.

Imagine . . .

The ringing of a church bell
The buzzing of a mosquito in your ear
The roar of an ocean wave crashing against the shore

Imagine . . .

The feel of a fine cashmere sweater
The softness of a baby’s skin
Drops of rain falling on your face during a summer shower

Imagine . . .

A sunset over the ocean
A fireworks display
The face of a loved one

Imagine . . .

Biting into a luscious, fresh strawberry
A spoonful of rich, chocolate ice cream
A pungent jalapeno pepper

Imagine . . .

The smell of the earth after a spring rain
The fragrance of blooming lilacs
The aroma of a bakery

In daily life, pratyahara means paying attention to the sensory impulses you encounter throughout the day, limiting to the greatest extent possible  those that are toxic, and maximizing those that are nourishing to your body, mind, and soul. Choose sounds, sensations, sights, tastes, and smells that inspire you. Be aware of and do your best to reduce situations, circumstances, and people who deplete you of your vitality and enthusiasm for life.

When it comes to your yoga and meditation practice, pratyahara means creating  a space where you are less likely to be distracted by distressing sensations in your environment, such as loud music, blaring television shows, and aggravating arguments, so that you can bring your awareness to quieter realms within your consciousness.

If you take the time to withdraw from the world for a little while each day, you will find that your experiences are more vibrant and that you feel more alive.

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