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We’ve come to the last two limbs of the yogic path Dhyana and Samadhi. I’m kind of sad it’s coming to an end! I’ve really loved exploring these concepts with you. I hope this series has helped you make a little sense of yoga philosophy.
I’ve grouped these two last limbs together as they are not really a practice, per se. They are more states of mind that can be achieved with ardent work through the other 6 limbs. These states can take years and years of practice or can happen spontaneously. Dhyana and Samadhi are the “rewards” of consistency. The true journey is the practice.
Dhyana is the continuous inward flow of consciousness. This is the yogic definition of meditation. Typically when we are sitting for our daily practice, we are practicing Dharana or Pratyahara. How do we know the difference between contemplation and Dhyana? When we reach a full meditative state, everything is completely absent from thought, except for the reality of the moment, object or full realization of who we truly are. There is no break in the thought process.
Have you ever been so lost in a moment of concentration that there is no effort and when the moment is over you almost wonder what happened? This can happen in a physical event, performing music, childbirth or anything really. The feeling of being in the zone. THIS is Dhyana.
All of the work on this yogic path leads us to these moments of pure meditation.
Exercise: Have there been moments in your life that you felt completely lost in the moment? Write about that experience.
Samadhi is when individual consciousness unites with the Divine Consciousness. The illusion of separateness dissolves and you experience the ONENESS of everything and everyone. This is not just understanding this concept intellectually, but fully experiencing it. There’s a difference. This is the first level of full realization.
In this state, the act of observation and reflection ceases, and the barriers of the mind dissolve while a sense of oneness is experienced. That seems pretty amazing, right? The interesting part is that Samadhi may not be intentionally elicited as goes far beyond our intellect or actions. It may occur spontaneously.
For those on the yogic path, this idea of Samadhi is encouraging. It holds promise that all this work will lead to an experience we all long for deeply. Should Samadhi be your ultimate goal? Well, that’s up to you, but the journey is where it’s at.
So now what?
So is that it? Well…yes and no. This was a good overview of the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, but there is so much more. You can delve pretty deeply into these topics, or explore the rest of the Yoga Sutras to understand the deeper levels of yoga. But for now, we can give studying a rest and relax for a moment or two as we get into some other Yoga topics on our blog
See you soon!