• Barbara Newman

Stillness of Silence

At this time of social distancing in April 2020, you might be rediscovering the beauty of slowing down. Ancient yogic teachings reveal how to slow down using the Eight-Limbs of Yoga. The first and second less known limbs, the Yamas and Niyamas, relate to social and personal disciplines of the mind. Most yogis are familiar with the third limb, Asana or yoga poses, and the fourth limb, Pranayama or breath. The practice of yoga poses and breath create ease.

The less known fifth limb, Pratyahara, is defined as turning inward. This refers to using the knowledge of what is learned on the outside to delve into understanding one’s internal world. The practice of breath and movement allow the body and mind to be quiet enough to take a peek inside. In order to tune into your inner life, the sixth limb, Dharana, focus, is needed. Think about how you cultivate focus. What tools do you use to concentrate? You might gaze at an object, not for analysis, but observation. Or you might sit, with eyes closed, feel yourself grounded to the earth, hands to the heart, and breathe slowly and consciously. Make a mental or visible list of what you do to focus and allow yourself to be present.

Are you in the present in whatever you do? In order to meditate, being present is necessary. Meditation can happen anywhere. You can soften into your own space on a walk, in a garden, journaling, creating art, cooking, practicing yoga, or whatever you enjoy. If you lose focus, you can return to that object, breath, or whatever guides you to your “focus channel.” When you achieve meditation or Dhyana, the seventh limb of yoga, there are no words to explain the feeling. The tools are set aside. The subject, you, and the object used to guide you there, create a bond. You and the object blend or melt together. You’re in a unique space of clarity. Your hidden thoughts might be unveiled. You may apply what you witnessed in that meditative space to your life.

As you soften the need “to do” and enter the need “to be” present, you find clarity. There could be an uninterrupted flow of awareness as you lessen the attachment to the external world. The authentic experience of life is found when you are part of what is happening in the present moment. You move into deeper connection to the Self, the inner voice, your internal world. Shifting and transformation may lead to melting into oneness. The eighth limb, Samadhi, is oneness with all living things. Samadhi happens as a result of Asana/posture, Pranayama/breath, Pratyahara/turning inward, Dharana/concentration, and Dhyana/meditation. There are no words for Samadhi. It is an experience of being in the moment of life.

In this unprecedented time, change is inevitable. We are being guided to move forward with grace, tranquility and peace. What road are you taking on your journey?

Roadmap to meditation is as follows:


Breathe to calm down the self and relax into the present moment.

Tools include a body scan of the breath while sitting, walking, standing or laying down.


Tools include what you identified above that help you focus, such as gazing or breathing.

Lessen the fear of loss by softening attachment to things.

View obstacles as opportunities.

Know there are choices.

We are human beings, not human doings. When working with the breath and focusing, it may seem you are doing very little. Meditation is not about doing but about experiencing. The more you lunge into practice, the more wisdom is achieved. In time you may become even more peaceful with the stillness of silence.

Credit to Yoga Alliance Webinar 4/1/2020 Exploring the Yoga Sutras Series, Part 2 with Jafar Alexander, Yoga Therapist, RYT500

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