“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.”
Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, which is wonderful because yoga offers so many benefits to anyone willing to try it out. Yoga has a rich and nuanced history; it is much more than a system of poses to stretch and strengthen the body, although that is one of its greatest benefits.
This final installment of our exploration of the eightfold path of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (written sometime between the second and fourth centuries) takes a look at the ideas of one pointed focus, abiding calm, and union with the divine.
These concepts discussed here are the culmination of the journey we have been on the last 6 months. This is where it all comes together. Where we move from being a human giver, a human doer, a human producer, to truly embody being a human being.
Dharana is the idea of true concentration. Set your focus. This takes a lot of practice! Just as any skill is developed through repetition, here too that holds true. We treat our mind as a child, gently guiding it back to focus each time it is distracted, over time these distractions become fewer and farther between.
Dhyana is the state of meditation. Sense withdraw, then concentration, then peace, stillness, calm, meditation. This too takes a while to achieve through diligent practice. Beginners experience glimpses of this state and the trick is to allow this abiding calm to come and go without attachment. Over time maintaining this state becomes easier, I promise.
Samadhi is becoming one with that which is greater than the self. This place of knowing that we are guided, protected, and all interconnected. This is a state of wholeness. The filters that shape our lives through experience and belief no longer exist. We are a part of a cosmic whole that encompasses everything.
Practice: So Hum, Hum Sa
The translation is “I am that, that I am.” Meaning I am a part of everything and everything is a part of me. So simple, yet so profound. Sitting in meditation we focus on the breath for a few cycles. The cool air flowing in and the warm air flowing out through the nostrils. Next, begin to mentally say “so hum” on the inhale and “hum sa” on the exhale. Continue to practice for as long as you like. We are combining concentration, meditation, and connection with that which is greater than the self. When finished with the practice take a moment to recognize and appreciate yourself for taking the time to deepen your connection to the whole. Namaste.