A fundamental teaching from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is that the body and mind are essential tools on the journey to liberation. Used for thousands of years, this text is revered as a philosophical cornerstone to yogis across the globe. The teachings are straightforward, practical and inclusive, claiming that every human is capable of achieving freedom at his/her/their own pace.
The Eight Limbs Of Yoga are introduced in Sutra II.28 as a roadmap to liberation -- or enlightenment. Collectively they set out ethical guidelines as well as practices to purify the body, mind, and breath in preparation for the final goal, samadhi - the eighth limb.
The Highest Limb
If the yogic quest for liberation were personified in the image of a tree, the highest limb would be samaria. Each of of the other limbs -- yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana and dhyana -- are preparatory stages and practices toward the ultimate goal of union: being in oneness with all of creation.
Dharana and dhyana relate to meditation practice and its preparatory stages. In previous posts we have explored the subject-object relationship that is involved in meditation, namely the subject is meditating and the object is the focal point. In the context of this relationship, samadhi is understood as a state of deep absorption with a point of concentration (the objext) object without thought of the self (the subject). Basically, the subjet-object distinction is non-existent and the essence of the object shines forth in complete truth, absolutely free from the distortions of the subject's imagination.
Time is not an essential factor in one’s progress toward samadhi. However long it takes an individual to achieve this state of being in oneness with all of creation, is entirely contingent on an individual's own progress. Like dhyana, entering into the state of samadhi is understood as a spontaneous process. It has also been described in the following way:
Samadhi is an experience of such depth, such joy, such indifference and such love, that nothing else is really like it or worthwhile in comparison, yet it gives shape, color and meaning to everything - Frederick Lenz
Consider reflecting on samadhi:
What resonates most with you about the state of being that is samadhi?
Are there any small changes you could make in your life today to move in the direction of deeper joy, indifference (or non-attachment) and love?
about chattra blogger Jillian Bobowicz
Jillian writes with a heartfelt intention to support others by sharing insight and information she has gained through 15 years of practicing Yoga and Ayurveda. A lifelong environmentalist and feminist she is passionate about women’s health and aspires to live more deeply in tune with the rhythms of nature as they manifest in her body and surroundings. Jillian holds certifications from YogaWorks (500hrs), The California College of Ayurveda, Cornerstone Doula Training, Karma Kids Yoga, and Mama Tree Prenatal Yoga; she earned a Bachelors Degree from the University of Delaware focused on History and Journalism. She is currently building a career in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability with an emphasis on women’s and family health.