Yoga + Meditation

Yoga and meditation

In traditional yogic texts, the word “meditation” is often translating some form of the Sanskrit word “samyama,” literally “taking the faculties together.”Recall from our introduction chapter the 8 limbs of yoga. The first two are yama & niyama, or qualities supporting social and personal relationships. After these come asana (the postures we usually practice) and pranayam (or conscious breathing) which go together, and also lead topratyahara, or sense withdrawal.

You’ve probably noticed this quality of internal absorption or focus emerging from your yoga practice - not every time, but some times.This internalizing of the senses - feeling, seeing, hearing your subjective landscape - is the condition for the final three limbs, which together define meditation: dharana (concentration), dhyana (focus), and samadhi (seeing the nature of the mind). Dharana & dhyana can be cultivated, samadhi “happens.” Some say that samadhi is always our condition, but it sometimes happens we realize our enlightened nature.

Meditation is the union of concentration and focus on a chosen object or condition. The difference between concentration and focus is tremendously useful when cultivating one or the other. Focus is the ability to tend to a single point, thing or condition to the exclusion of others. Concentration is the ability to sustain focus. We all have both these native abilities - just as we possess the capacities for breath, strength and thought. We can cultivate any of these capacities to strengthen and hone it. A person may be able to focus intensely for a short period of time, but be easily distracted. Conversely, a person may be able to absorb their thoughts in a subject for an extended period of time, but lack the narrow focus necessary to accomplish a goal.