The Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Limb!
While it seemed to take forever to get through the first two limbs, the Yamas and the Niyamas, it may seem contradictory that I bring the last three limbs together in one discussion. They are as follows:
Dharna – Concentration, taken from Sanskrit “Dhr” which means to hold, meaning holding the concentration or focus of attention in one direction. This is when the mind focuses and concentrates on one point in beginning a meditation.
Dhyana – Meditation or the uninterrupted flow of the mind toward a chosen object. Dharna comes before Dhyana as the mind must focus first before the connection is made. Dharana is the contact and dhyana is the connection.
Samadhi – To become one or absolute union. Samadhi means to “bring everything together, to merge”. Desikachar says that in samadhi “our personal identity…. completely disappears.” He goes on further to explain that nothing “separates us from the object of our choice; instead, we blend and become one with it.”
In our lives today we have many distractions, perhaps we can release some of them or take a break with a meditative practice. While this could be in a more traditional practice, you could also experience this on a solitary walk, or some other activity that gets you into a meditative state.
As I wrote this, I referred to several sources but kept coming back to Desikachar and his book. For me it his explanation was always the most straightforward. I looked all over the internet to find a version of this diagram which for me made these concepts so much easier to follow but could not find one. My YTT class knew that I was almost giddy over this diagram which made what was for me some very murky (not banker-friendly) concepts become easier to understand.
Diagram 1 shows the focus of the mind (circle) on the object of meditation or focus, this is dharana. This could be the breath, a sound, the image of the moon, etc. The mind links with the object of the attention and maintains the link (diagram 2), achieving dhyana. As the mind blends and becomes one with the object of meditation (diagram 3), samadhi is reached.
For additional information on these three limbs and how they work together, see the attached article, I liked it very much.
Our Practice – Meditation: Seated or Walking
I have spoken before about how I transitioned years ago from running to walking. I walk fast, I ran slowly. While I love walking with a friend, I have also adopted a practice of walking meditation. This involves walking alone, in nature, with no headphones or other external stimuli. I try to get lost in the walk, observe nature, and really look at the world. I have found that I often notice many things I would normally miss: deer, foxes, the beauty of the sun on the water, a sunrise, a sunset. For me, the ultimate multitasker, these walking meditations are extremely challenging yet often nurturing and restorative.
Instead of a long walk or long meditation, tell yourself 5 or 10 minutes is fine, get outside and move, relax, breathe. This too is yoga!
This week we will try a short, seated meditation in class. When we do this (or you try on your own), find the most comfortable seated pose you can find. Use props. This position is our foundation to meditation, and we want to be as comfortable as possible. We will focus our attention on something whether it is a physical object, a mental mind photo, a sound, a mantra or perhaps a candle flame. Eyes closed usually works well. Breath is gentle and steady. We will find stillness in our mind and will keep coming back to it. Our mind may jump around, just continue to coax it back, gently and without judgment, to stillness and focus. If thoughts arise, gently push them away and return to your object of attention. 5-10 minutes maximum is a great start.
Nurturing With Food – Chickpea Salad Sandwich (or not)
Over the years I have adopted almost a completely plant based diet, but am also challenged with finding new and different things as an alternative to my “soup and salad“ lunch routine. I had a version of this chickpea salad sandwich several years ago (actually at the memorial celebration of my Dad’s life-the caterer made it for me and the other vegetarian guests) and have adapted it slightly for my own taste. The original recipe I used when I was trying to duplicate it was from the website Minimalist Baker.
See you on the mat!