Yoga Magic and the 8 Limbs of Yoga, Part II
According to Patanjali, III:1“Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.” It is training the mind to concentrate and the beginning of meditation. By focusing on one thing, perhaps an object, you guide yourself into meditation. You may need to bring back your mind as it attempts to run in other directions. However, when you sit or lay down quietly, you have trained your mind to meditate and achieved Dharana.
Patanjali further describes this process of meditation. He states, III:2 “Dhyana is the continuous flow of cognition toward that object.” The mind is steady and there are no interruptions in perception, awareness or thoughts. Communication between the meditator and the object is secure. Following a long practice of Dharana, the “flow of cognition” increases and becomes Dhyana, meditation.
Patanjali continues to explain that III:3 “Samadhi is the same meditation when there is the shining of the object alone, as if devoid of form.” Meditation peaks with a state of samadhi. You don’t practice samadhi. Instead you do your best in Dharana to concentrate. Your experience becomes easy in Dhyana and you know you are in meditation. However, in samadhi, you don’t even realize you’re meditating. There is no object to meditate on and no meditator.
There are times when I meditate and suddenly feel transported to another space for a short time. I then "awake" and realize I must have experienced samadhi because for a short time, I was unaware I was in meditation. My mind is clear. I am at one with myself. It was as though I awoke from a deep sleep. What is your experience with samadhi?
III:4 “The practice of these three [dharana, dhyana and samadhi] upon one object is called samyamah.” This is the quintessential concentration of the mind and a guide to uncover your truth. The truth has always been there but was hidden. With samyamah you discover your truth.
Looking at all the 8 limbs of yoga, you begin to understand the meaning or magic of yoga, what happens to your body, mind and spirit. In our ever changing technological fast paced world, perhaps this is why yoga has grown exponentially in recent years. Whether you understand what yoga is actually doing for you is not as important as the benefits you derive from this valued practice.