Investigating Indriya Nigraha

Sannyasi Vidya Kiran, Colombia

During the Kriya Yoga Yatra 1 in 2016, Swamiji gave us a meditation practice for our kriya yoga sadhana. He told us to practise 7.5 minutes indriya nigraha and 7.5 minutes danti, sensorial restraint and mental restraint.

Swamiji said that we should choose a sense and block all the sensations of that sense and he gave us an example of how to practise indriya nigraha, “Burn an incense stick, smell it and block the smell. Say to yourself, 'I don't want to smell'.

To do the practice I decided to work with one sense per month so I could deepen and perfect the practice. The first month I chose the sense of smell and did the practice as Swamiji had said, 'smell it and block it'.

The second month I chose taste. I started to feel the taste in my mouth and then I blocked it, saying to myself, 'I don't want to feel this taste'. I blocked the sensorial perception, and repeated for a few times. Then I brought up a nice taste like banana, tangerines or chocolate or a taste I did not like, like rotten papaya and I blocked each taste. It was easier to block the ones I did not like.

Applying indriya nigraha in daily life

I did this with all the senses. During the month of touch, a question arose in the mind, 'What is it that I don't like of this touch sensation?' I started seeing and realizing emotions, mental programs and thoughts that were behind my likes and dislikes. The root cause of the likes and dislikes came to the forefront to be observed. The practice became deep, the mind became steady and I felt immense peace and stillness.

After a few months of practising indriya nigraha, I did it as a meditation during a one-hour boat ride when I felt a lot of pain in one foot. I could not move because of the high speed of the boat and the small place I was in. I started doing indriya nigraha, saying to myself, 'I don't want to feel this pain'. I blocked the sensation of pain and repeated it for a few times. The pain and discomfort went away.

Since then I use indriya nigraha every time my senses are reporting discomfort like itching, hot, cold, dryness, need to move, need to urinate when in a car, pain, noise, smell. The discomfort goes away and the mind remains calm.

It is also useful during long meditation practices. I do not have to do much, just notice the discomfort, look at it and block it. This practice of pratyahara helps me to control the mind by observing the sensorial activity, the mental activity, and the responses, and it gives me the ability to stop them.