Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses). This concept encourages us to avoid reacting to everything around us. Picture yourself calm, collected, and compassionate in the middle of a mall on the day after Thanksgiving. Embrace this step in chaotic situations such as family reunions, a fire alarm, or an overreacting colleague. Release all the distractions around you to become fully present with what is happening.
Dharana (concentration). This is the ability to be completely in the moment and focused on only one thing. Use mantras, breath, images, or even candles to help bring yourself into focus. When interacting with others, practice being fully present with them — no texting, no watching who else may be walking by, no checking your watch. The Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us: “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Help others bloom.
Dhyana (meditation). Turn inward, release the mind, and focus on just being in that moment. Much easier said than done, but it is a critical addition to the physical practice of yoga. It is said that yogis first began practicing their fabulous yoga poses to prepare their bodies for meditation. During your busy day, secure at least five minutes to sit still, focus on your breath, and let go of outside distractions. This assists you with being more proactive and less reactive in daily life. Very helpful — especially if you tend to be a drama queen!
Samadhi (true bliss). This is the experience of wholeness when you are in the flow and feeling connected to all. Think inner peace, bliss, and overall freedom. This step is considered the ultimate experience, where you have control over distractions. Reflect on times when you feel completely in the zone, when you lose track of time and feel perfectly at peace.