The technique of concentration as given by Sage Yajnavalkya involves a process of
withdrawing the mind and Prana gradually and step by step from one part of the body to another,
starting from the two big toes of the feet and progressing upward by a series of successive acts of
such concentration-cum-withdrawal, through the several occult centers of the body, leading
finally to the crown of the head.
By this process, the mind and Prana are totally drawn away from the entire body and
finally centered in the top of the head where the practitioner dives into deep meditation.
The 18 parts mentioned by Sage Yajnavalkya are given below:
1. The great toes
2. The ankles
3. The middles of the shanks
4. The parts above the shanks and below the knees
5. The centers of the knees
6. The centers of the thighs
7. The anus
8. The center of the body, just below the waist
9. The genitals
10. The navel
11. The heart
12. The pit of the throat
13. The root of the palate
14. The root of the nose
15. The eyeballs
16. The centre of the eyebrows
17. The forehead
18. The crown of the head.
It is when the senses are active that the mind becomes outgoing. Thus, concentration is
retarded. The senses are made active by the play of Prana. With the withdrawal of Prana, the
different parts of the body are rendered quiescent and their activity inhibited. Here, in this
technique, the effective withdrawal of Prana is achieved by the withdrawal of the mind. It is not
so much by a process of Pranayam as by making use of the interconnection between Prana and
the mind that this withdrawal of Prana is effected. When the mind is firmly withdrawn after a
short spell of deep concentration upon a particular part, automatically, together with the ingoing
mind, the Prana too gets withdrawn. Prana follows the mind.
Thus, stage by stage, the Prana is withdrawn from the big toes upwards right up until it
reaches the region of the crown of the head by which time the meditator is as it were, oblivious of
the body. In this state, the meditation proceeds undisturbed and becomes very effective.
This is one of the processes to enter into undisturbed and intense Dhyana. Sit upon your
Dhyana Asan. Create the right mood and Bhava by a little chanting of the Pranava Mantra, Om.
Next, negate the entire phenomenal universe, including this earth. When you reach the state
where you are aware only of the body, then commence this process of withdrawal.
Closing your eyes, first direct your entire mind upon the two big toes. Concentrate there.
Then gradually draw up the mind from the region of the toes to the next point, viz., the ankles.
Now concentrate here. Then withdraw yourself to the third point, i.e., the middle of the shanks.
Concentrate here. Next withdraw into the fourth part, and so on. After a few days’ progress,
depending upon the interest and the earnestness with which you do it, you will be able to go
through the entire series of 18 parts and reach the seat of meditation on the crown of the head
within a short time after taking up your seat in the meditation pose.

From "May I answer that" by Swami Sivananda (1987-1963). More Informations on Swami Sivananda: on the Website of Divine Life Society, Photographs of Swami Sivananda, German Pages on Swami Sivananda

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  • I learned this as part of Yoga Nidra that can be done in shavasana. It is a wonderfull practice. therae are many variations and applications.
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