Well it is getting to be that time of cherries and apples and all things fruiting!!! So what a good time to be reading these chapters in the Tree of Yoga about the final three aspects of the path of yoga – Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (ultimate freedom).
First of all, you should definitely just read these chapters, as there is no way for me to completely unpack them here. These three final limbs of practice truly are the beauty and the juice that yoga has to offer – they are the culmination of our internal quest for mental quietude and full experience of our self.
Dharana : Concentration : “To bring the wandering mind to a state of restraint is known as dharana” (pg 65) Dharana is the focusing of the mind on one point or action or task or thing. When we begin to concentrate the mind it must be an active, deliberate act that begins to engulf the mind in one-pointed attention. Dharana is the bridge between the outward active state to the more inward reflective state – YOU are still DOING something, but that something is bringing the mind back to one state. “The thoughtful state requires deliberate attention. To remain thoughtless also requires deliberate attention.”
Dhyana : Meditation : “Awareness through your whole being from the skin to the self and from the self to the skin.” (pg 68) The difference between Dharana and Dhyana are probably the most difficult to understand in our modern language. Most forms of “modern meditative techniques” fall into the category of dharana, concentration, where you are trying to bring the mind to some concentration on something. For most of us this means that the mind is still wandering, but we are trying to focus it and we might succeed every now and then. Dhyana is a more receptive state where time disappears. Once the mind is held in one place for a longer period of time, YOU are still alert and aware of the experience YOU are having, but the mind is fully existing within your whole self without distraction or fluctuation. I think if any of us stick to yoga for any period of time, we have experienced this “timelessness” and “oneness” even for a moment.
Samadhi : The Fruit of Yoga : “absoluteness in oneself” (pg 76) The “fruit” or goal of yoga is to completely know oneself in full awareness. This is where we start to see the “things that make you go hmmmmmm” and the words of yoga start to not quite make sense to the experience of them. In samadhi, we finally lose ourself in the very thing we have been concentrating upon (the self). Therefore, you as you and time both diffuse into everything, “Consciousness diffuses everywhere, through all the sheaths of the body and all its parts. And yet we say that the end of yoga is to forget the body and forget the mind.” (pg 73) The second YOU acknowledge it as an experience by YOU and of YOU, then you have come back to Dhyana or Dharana…fallen back to fluctuation. So, in essence samadhi is to lose yourself in the full knowing of yourself.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, these three last aspects combine into a practice of “integration” called samyama. For me, I actually find this one term helpful to chew on just because the working of the mind for most of us still fluctuate between all three of the above situations in practice and the only way we know they exist is from experience of practice. It is just a great reminder that beyond the physical plain of practice, there is also such depth and juiciness in the fruits of yoga.
Isn’t NOW the best time to squeeze the best juice from your practice?? ENJOY!!!