I brought these three together as I was away hosting a Retreat, it works because these last 3 limbs flow carefully into one another.
DHARANA – ‘Concentration’
After we try to withdrawal from all external distractions we use this next stage towards meditation to slow down our thinking, to manage the distractions that are inside (might be something that takes awhile hey…). For this we use a single point of focus. There are a few ways to do this.
- Visual – focusing our gaze, our drishti on a part of the body, for example the naval. Or gazing out towards a fixed space.
- Audible – concentration might be assisted by the silent repetition of a sound, silently internal or played externally.
Extended periods of this type of concentration will naturally lead us to meditation. But it can take time and it’s not a race.
DHYANA – ‘Meditation’
An uninterrupted flow of focus upon a single object, exclusive of all other thoughts. This doesn’t have to mean there are no thoughts (remember Pratyahara & Dharana) we are just not giving them space or our attention. I guess you could say that at this stage you are so immersed in the bliss of stillness you can’t be distracted?
Yoga is a process and particularly the stages towards meditation may come and go – depending on where you are in life, what you have on, how pre occupied you are, how much time you are giving to the practice. We know that to practice means to repeat, so if we want to be able to do it better…
SAMADHI – ‘Pure Contemplation’
Once meditation is experienced you then enter a state of Samadhi – where you truly connect with the vision or object of your meditation. It is referred to as a state of ecstasy, pure bliss and peace. That might seem a little far fetched. But think of it this way – lets relate the stages of yoga to the stages of life. Now if I said to you list your life long goals > give me 5. Would complete happiness or satisfaction, joy or contentment not make the list? Thought so. So use that as encouragement and motivation for when you are sat still and there are a million thoughts racing and battling for your attention.
This experience can’t be bought, there are no short cuts and we are all different – we can not predict how easy or hard it will be to get there. So take your time and don’t be letting the stress of trying to achieve be just another distraction.
Have a read of this and if after doing so you think ‘well that is all well and good however I can’t sit still’ – I hear you, I have been doing yoga for ten years and honestly – I still find it pretty difficult to sit for more than ten minutes.
That is where the physical aspect of yoga can provide a stepping stone.It gives a moving meditation. You don’t have to be quite as disciplined and as you get use to the class, the postures, the way in which they flow > you can start to withdraw yourself from the outside world and give yourself a chance to look in.
Sound manageable now?