Yoga Philosophy 101: Samyama

This post is the fourth and final in my Yoga Philosophy 101 series. Make sure you catch my posts on the Yamas, Niyamas and Asana, Pranayama & Pratyahara too.

The integration of the final three limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path is known as Samyama. In today’s post, we’re going to touch on each of the three principles.

Dharana ā€“ Concentration

Dharana is fixing the consciousness on one point or region.

How do we practice dharana?

  • make the main thing the main thing, do just one thing at a time, fully focused, totally present

– Try trataka – this is known as concentrated candle gazing done staring at the flame at eye height uninterrupted until you lose your mind & cultivate a calm centre

– Mindfully and meaningfully concentrate on your breath during everything or anything you do

– Sit in easy cross-legged pose, close the eyes and focus on energy moving up and down the spine with the breath or repeating a Mantra such as love and compassion with the breath. Inhale love, exhale compassion.

Dhyana ā€“ Meditation

Dhyana is a steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region without interruption, this is meditation. When we merge with the point of concentration, we become one with it, seeing ourselves at the essence of the object.

There is a reason dhyana comes after dharana; it’s because dharana often leads into dhyana. Where your focus on an object eventually turns into a clear and unclouded mind of union.

How do we practice dhyana?

Start with dharana; dhyana is the natural progression of a consistent dharana practice. Commit to sitting every morning for just 30minutes, the key is consistency. There will be easier and harder days but know that every sitting session is a good sit no matter how it feels. The unraveling often is the most transformational when we commit to the sit no matter the circumstance.

Samadhi ā€“ Oneness

Samadhi is almost instant after true meditation when the object of meditation engulfs the meditator, appearing as the subject, self-awareness is lost. The challenge is to extend and stretch that samadhi experience for longer and longer durations. So it becomes part of your day to day activities and even though you are functioning freely in the world you still feel a deep connection to something far bigger than the individual self and beyond the worldly activities on the surface.

How do we practice samadhi?

Start with dhyana.

You’re probably picking up on a theme of ‘one step at a time’ here, and you’d be correct. That’s the brilliance and sophistication of these teachings. All you have to do is follow the path laid out before you!

I’ll finish my Yoga Philosophy 101 series with this: From the mastery of samyama comes the light of awareness and insight. Yes, please!

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