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Dhyana, flowing between Dharana and Samadhi

In our last article, we discussed the last external and the first internal limb of yoga: Pratyahara and Dharana. We saw that these steps allow the practitioner to eliminate external and internal distractions to focus his concentration on a specific point or element.

In this article, we will explore the concept of Dhyana, meditation. This step is the last before the yogi flows into Samadhi, the union with the global consciousness.

Dhyana as an extension of Dharana

Dhyana is the seventh limb of yoga. It happens after mastering the previous limbs of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dharana.

The first five limbs train the practitioner to harmonize his actions with others and himself, find balance in his body, control his life energy, and remove distractions perceived by his senses.

The sixth limb, Dharana, allows the concentration of the mind over a specific focal point. It aims to control the distractions created automatically and constantly by the mind. In this state, the yogi is still aware that he is concentrating and might lose concentration if a thought, sound, or discomfort arises. He then needs to return his full attention to the focal point and start focusing again.

When the yogi can stop the flow of thoughts and maintain total concentration on his chosen symbol for a long time, he naturally enters a meditative state called Dhyana. It is an extension of Dharana because it has the same concentration over the same focal point but is maintained in time. Dhyana is thus a higher form of attention and can be experienced during Dharana simply as a period of uninterrupted flow of consciousness.

To reach the meditative state, the yogi must visualize the practice of Dhyana as well as the object of attention. It is mandatory to be aware that there is an unbroken concentration over the symbol. If that awareness is lost, it means that the yogi's mind yogi slipped away and lost concentration.

So Dharana is a concentration broken from time to time, while Dhyana is a prolonged state of concentration without interruption.

The experience of Dhyana

When he is in the state of Dhyana, the yogi can see his chosen symbol as clearly as if it was in front of his open eyes. He is aware of that ability. He feels he is experimenting with an inner experience and settles into this awareness and his focal point.

The meditative state is the experience of a symbol as truth, with full and aware attention. At this point, anything that is imagined is visualized clearly and becomes evident. The mind flows as oil, without obstruction or interruption, slowly and clearly.

It is essential to point out that meditation is not a practice but a state of continuous dynamic consciousness. The meditative state is acquired or experienced but cannot be practiced. The yogi practices Pratyahara and Dharana to withdraw from the distractions, but he lives Dhyana when all the distractions are removed, and his mind is entirely focused for an uninterrupted period.

Samadhi as an extension of Dhyana

Because in the meditative state the yogi is fully experiencing what he imagines, the mind can be fixed on any object of concentration, gross or subtle. He can experience a simple thought as much as the concept of infinity in a complete, continuous, and aware manner.

When the mind becomes one with the object of concentration, it flows from Dhyana to Samadhi. In that state, there is no more consciousness that one is concentrating. The object effortlessly becomes the only thing in the awareness. The yogi reaches the union with the global consciousness, or Samadhi, which will be discussed in a future article.

To resume, it is essential to understand that the three last limbs of yoga (Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi) naturally flow to one another. The practice of Dharana leads naturally to the state of Dhyana by being maintained for an extended period without interruption. Dhyana effortlessly transforms into Samadhi when the object of attention becomes the only focus, and the awareness of the concentration is lost.

At Japam, we teach according to Patanjali's eight limbs philosophy. Don't hesitate to contact us or visit our studio for more information on our classes or to discuss the philosophy and practices.

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