Yoga off the Mat: Progressing

This is the fifth part of my Yoga off the Mat series. Read part one, Yoga off the Mat: Contemplation, here, part two, Yoga off the Mat: Concentration, here, part three Yoga off the Mat: Method, here and part four Yoga off the Mat: Practice here.

In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some ideas and practices written about in 3.1 to 3.16 of Patanjali’s yoga sutras.

While many talk about and study the first two chapters of the sutras, often the third chapter is left unexplored. Why is this?

I think it’s because we start to delve into some esoteric philosophy and many are scared to come off as a bit “woo woo”. Yes, over the next few posts we will be delving into supernatural powers and experiences. But I think it’s essential that we do discuss these concepts because so many of us have had these supernatural occurrences and have felt alone in our experience. I want you to know that although we call it ‘supernatural’, it’s normal!

In the sutras, Patanjali outlines a systematic approach for us to access samadhi. The great sage has drawn us a roadmap, and we need only follow it to find our way! So let’s dive into samyama, the final three rungs of the ladder.

Dharana (Concentration)

Dharana is translated from Sanskrit to ‘perfected concentration’. So, how do we perfect our concentration? We make our way through the five stages of the mind!

The five stages of the mind:

  1. Disturbed – this includes mental health challenges
  2. Dull – a stagnant state with no forward movement, no inspiration!
  3. Distracted – a state of over-inspiration, too much is coming in, little to no focus (did you know it’s said that most of us only have a 7-second attention span now?)
  4. One-pointed – ‘perfected concentration’, focus on one thing and focus on it well (I’m calling BS on multitasking!)
  5. Meditation – the enlightened mind, samadhi

Homework: Can you pinpoint the state your mind is currently in?

Dhyana (Meditation)

The next rung is immediately attained once you master your one-pointedness, your perfected concentration. You will slip into meditation automatically. Let’s talk about how you can make your way through the stages of the mind.

The tools in your spiritual toolbox

Not only are we given a map, but we’re also gifted with tools to help our journey!

I have four tools to share with you today, start at number one and work your way through:

  1. Breath – the sweet inhale and exhale is always the best place to start.
  2. Nada – listen for your ‘inner sound’. Your inner sound is sacred and unique, once reached it will open your chakras (energy centres). Listen for a steady hum that doesn’t change in vibration if you were to turn your head to the side.
  3. Prana – feel your ‘inner vibration’. Like nada, your internal vibration in sacred and unique. Our prana is our lifeforce, and sometimes this flow of prana is experienced as a feeling sensation in the body.
  4. Inner Light – the true inner light is pure, luminous and colourless light. If you are experiencing colours, this may be associated with blocks in your chakras. When you truly tap into your inner light and ‘ignite’ from within you have reached samadhi. When you become the light, the knowledge of the whole universe becomes available to you!

What happens then?

We will be exploring samadhi further in next month’s blog.