08 Aug Yoga-Beyond Meditation
Yoga has become synonym with meditation. To begin with, meditation is a part of yoga and not a different style of Yoga. Patanjali’s Ashtanga yoga or classical yoga consists of eight steps meditation comprises of last three steps (Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi).
Yoga is all about training the human mind. Once upon a time, there was this person who was travelling through a jungle, and along the way, he got lost. It was getting dark, and he was tried. He decided to rest below a tree. Incidentally, it was a wish-fulfilling tree, and his mind was active with thoughts, ‘I am thirsty’, and suddenly water appeared. He quenched his thirst. Next, he thought ‘I am hungry need food’ and lo! Food platter appeared. He was happy and satisfied his hunger. Now he thought let me rest for a while and then I will go further …to his surprise bed appeared, and he slept and overslept. When he opened his eyes, it was pitch dark in the jungle, and suddenly his mind was filled with fear. He thought, ‘I hope lion doesn’t come in front of me’ and lo lion appeared! Now, his mind filled with terror and he thought again, ‘I hope lion doesn’t eat me’ and guess what? He got eaten by the hungry lion!
This is what the human mind is, if it is not trained well, it destroys its own self.
Overthinking fearful human mind is destructive. Hence, the brain needs training, and you need to train the mind by focusing on something. We need to pick our mind from everywhere by concentrating on one object; this is the true essence of Dharana. In the beginning, the object is external; it can be a flower you like to see or breeze of air you feel on your skin or focus on any one sound you hear. So, Dharana is when you slowly start to sit in one place and staring training your mind to focus on one particular object by using any one of your senses. Most people experience that within a few minutes of starting Dharana their mind starts to wander with different thoughts and places and things. For example- I am getting late. I hope I catch the train in time, where did I put my house keys etc. It might be just 2 minutes of concentration, but they think they have been sitting for a long time; meanwhile, the mind is again everywhere, filled with such thoughts. So we start small with Dharana, which can be concentration on any external object for a short duration of time with complete focus.
Central idea is to be able to do this mind training for a very long period of time. It is a daunting task.
We send our children to school. What are we aiming to teach them? When a child goes to school the first thing taught to them is to sit in one place and learn to listen to what the teacher has to say. This is Dharana.
When Dharana is done for an extended period of time, it becomes Dhyana or meditation. Dhyana is more of going from focusing of an external object to the internal focusing for example training mind to focus on heartbeat, breathe etc. The whole point is to keep focus for a more extended period of time.
This is how we slowly train our mind. The quintessential concept is that we should remain without thoughts for an extended period of time and this relaxes the mind. It is like a blank run, and you are not thinking of anything. This awareness is what is important by not allowing your mind to be running here and there is what we have to truly achieve.
When you do Dharana for a long period of time, you train your mind for Dhyana. When harnessing the power of Dhyana by meditating for a long period of time by rejecting the external object or external perception and meditating purely on the internal leads to Samadhi. You can achieve Samadhi when you become one with that particular object.
Last three steps Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi go together you can’t separate them out.
With consistent effort and training of the mind to focus beyond the physical realm and remain thoughtless, they become very natural. Spiritually reaching out beyond and experiencing the totality of higher consciousness using meditation as a tool. Mind in such a state is beyond worldly sufferings, worry, anxiety, and tension, so the solution for all the problems in life is to internalise meditation every day.
Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi empowers your natural being by paving a transformative journey within. Patanjali reiterates that everyone is capable of experiencing Samadhi a profound moment where one unites with the higher reality and go beyond but fully aware, without any thoughts or suffering.