We've reached our final destination - the eighth and final limb of yoga.
The simplest way to begin to explain Samadhi is to go back a little. You might remember the concept of Samyama. Sam means, "binding, together, integrated," and Yama, as you might remember from earlier limbs, means, "restraint." The idea of Samyama being that we aim to seamlessly flow through the last three limbs of yoga (concentration, meditation, bliss) as we go deeper and deeper inward. In the previous month we talked about Dharana and Dhyana (concentration and meditation respectively). Really, Samadhi is a continuation of these practices. Dharana, or concentration, involves training the mind to focus on an object, such as the breath or a mantra, and to hold that focus for an extended period of time - just like setting an intention for an asana class! Dhyana, or meditation, is when you start to quiet the mind to focus on the Big "S" Self, the aspect of our being that it is connected to the universe, to the divine, to something bigger than what we may be able to perceive. Samadhi is the recognition that we are not separate from the universe or the divine and resting in union.
Samadhi has many translations. Among them: • liberation • realization • enlightenment • bliss Samadhi exists in complete presence. When we are in complete presence in the moment, fully yoked with the universe/divine, this is Samadhi. However, we don't reach Samadhi and stay there forever after that. Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist, psychologist and one of my many teachers, has a wonderful book called, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. In it he discusses what happens AFTER someone reaches that state of liberation or enlightenment. He says, "Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the Divine, awakening to a state of timeless grace - these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away. There is one further truth, however: they don't last." He goes on to explain that while we may not stay in that place of enlightenment, we have seen clearly and can take the lessons with us into our lives finding bliss in every day life.
So, what does this mean moving forward?
Continue your meditation practice and notice those moment when the illusion of separation dissolves and you find yourself in complete union with the universe/the divine.
Notice the ways you change when you come back from Samadhi - physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. There might be a little afterglow. Sometimes, coming back from Samadhi can feel really heavy, too. Embrace it all.
As you shift back into the rhythm of life after Samadhi, see if you can cultivate pure bliss in the simplest aspects of human existence. Find joy in the simplicity of washing the dishes, notice each individual petal on the sunflower, pay attention to the space between inhales and exhales, savor the sunny days and the rainy days - find your bliss!
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey through the eight limbs of yoga. I know it has been so full and it's a lot to integrate. I'm always here for you as you walk this path, so don't hesitate to reach out.
All my love always and all ways.