This is part seven of “Following the Eight-Limbed Path”, a series about Ashtanga yoga, read part six here
“Meditation – because some things can’t be answered by Google.” ~ Author Unknown
Feeling sad or frustrated? Meditate on it. Having to make a difficult decision? Meditate on it. Questioning the meaning of life? Meditate on it. Or just take a long breath. Everything is going to be alright.
What is meditation? What is Dhyana?
Meditation is the practice of quieting and stilling the mind, and of turning the focus inward. It can come to us in different situations, when we are taking a walk in nature, painting, doing a morning routine or listening to the sound of the waves for example. When we focus the mind in concentration on an object the mind is transformed into the shape of the object. So, when we focus on the divine the mind become more reflective of it and know their true nature.
For some, meditation is useful tool for nearly every situation. However, just by sitting still with our eyes closed for a few minutes doesn’t mean that the state of mediation will happen to us. This is something that can take a long time to achieve, but with practice and devotion you will be able to reach that meditative state.
Dhyana basically means devotion and meditation on the divine. This is the seventh limb of Patanjalis’s Yoga Sutras, and just like pratyahara and dharana, this is a state we reach. Meditation is something that comes to us when we are able to concentrate our mind upon a point of focus.
How to meditate
The most commonly known way to meditate is to sit in stillness and by doing so, by concentrating our minds, we become more aware of the nature around us, our minds becomes clearer. The historical and original goal of yoga is to be able to sit in padmasana, lotus pose, and meditate. That is one of the reasons why we start our yoga practice with the third limb, asana. Without being able to sit still in a comfortable position, we will be having difficulties to concentrate. When the body starts to ache, or if the legs fall asleep, all we can think of is to move and change position. We lose the focus and that sense of inner peace.
So, do we have to sit in stillness every day to reach Dhyana? No, we don’t. But having a regular spiritual practice, like yoga, will definitely help you to focus and concentrate your mind on one thing. When being aware of, or practicing the first four limbs of Ashtanga Yoga; yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama, the last four limbs will eventually come to us.
The ultimate goal of meditation
I do enjoy the stillness when I’m just sitting down, breathing, focusing. Before I wasn’t even comfortable closing my eyes. With the daily practice it’s getting easier and easier, I’m feeling more comfortable and I’m able to let things go when needed. I also use it as tool, because there is a lot of things we can’t ask Google. This is a great way to sit with you and be alone with yourself. To get to know your true self.
Meditation becomes a tool to see things clearly and perceive reality beyond the illusions that cloud our mind. Unhappiness and fear – even the fear of death – vanishes when we reach dhyana. This state of freedom, or moksha, is the goal of yoga.
Reaching that state of freedom sounds pretty amazing right? We all have to start somewhere. I started by rolling out my mat and dedicated myself to this practice. I still have a long way to go, but I’m making sure I’m enjoying the journey. Fear is still there sometimes, and all I can do is embrace it and turn it into something good. They say life starts outside our comfort zone. I’m ready to agree.
Practice and all is coming.
Read part eight of the series here
Written by Anastasia Konstadinidis