Many people try to meditate. They close their eyes, manage to forget the outside world, but immediately become overwhelmed by subconscious thoughts and psychic visions. This is not a bad thing in the early stages of yoga practice. In fact it is necessary since it helps to exhaust negative disturbing samskaras from the subconscious mind. But eventually one must prevent awareness becoming abducted by both the events of the outside world and the processes of the inner psychic and mental realms. That is, one must tread the razor’s edge between ida and pingala – the path of sushumna. In order to induce pratyahara one must be firmly fixed on the sushumna path, lost neither in the ida nor pingala dimension of being. This leads to real pratyahara and eventually to dharana. Without mastery of pratyahara it is impossible to induce dharana.
The incredible sophistication of kriya yoga is that it brings a balance between total external awareness (outer distraction) and total inner haziness, where one lapses into a dreamy reverie or psychic picture show. It automatically leads to sushumna awareness. In the early practices, as already explained, the eyes are kept open for sometime and then closed for some time. This allows one’s awareness to tread the middle path; the closed eyes tend to induce introspection and the open eyes tend to induce extroversion. Eventually this can lead to a balance point and intense dharana arises automatically. This becomes the gateway to dhyana.
In most yoga practices, one tends to close the eyes during meditative practice. This easily leads to a dreamlike state, especially with beginners. Some systems, such as Zen Buddhism, try to overcome this introversion tendency by doing meditative practices with the eyes open. This too presents problems to beginners, for one is continually distracted by the outside world. Kriya yoga strikes a balance between the two extremes: the eyes are kept closed for a short time then opened for a short time. For this reason it brings fantastic results. It systematically and quickly induces pratyahara and leads directly to dharana.
Dharana: After performing and completing the initial group of kriyas, there is a likelihood that you may be in a state of pratyahara. The induction of pratyahara depends on regularity and intensity of practice, as well as the state of turmoil or calmness in your mind. Pratyahara can be easily and automatically induced in a calm mind, whereas a disturbed mind will require more regular practice over a period of months. Also induction of pratyahara depends on auspiciousness. That is, one day it may arise, on another it may not. This is one reason why you should be regular in your practices; on one auspicious day, because of favourable circumstances, you might be launched into a state of dharana and dhyana. It can occur at a most unexpected time. It can never be predicted.