Attention. It’s a valuable resource.
When we pay attention we are stretching toward the object of our attention. Whatever we pay attention to, be it an ideology, a social media post, or a person, we are spending (thus the term pay!) that resource. And as many of us have discovered, our modern lifestyles – often guided by devices – can squander that precious resource and leave us scattered and unable to focus.
Fortunately, there are wisdom practices, like yoga and meditation, that do the opposite. The last three of the eight limbs of yoga can be seen as progressive stages of attention, moving our presence inward:
- Attention leads to concentration, Dhāraṇā, where we bring to center one object or place.
- Concentration leads to meditation, Dhyāna, sustained concentration, whereby the attention continues to hold or repeat the same object or place.
- Meditation leads to absorption, Samādhi, wherein only the essence of that object, place, or point shines forth in the mind, as if the mind were devoid even of its own form.
This month our focus on this journey through the eight limbs of yoga* is on that middle stage, Dhyāna, meditation. Meditation rarely just happens. It is a state of sustained attention that requires intention. Is meditation something you’ve always wanted to start but haven’t made it happen? What’s stopping you? Could you start a concentration practice of watching a candle. Could you find ways to withdraw your senses to reduce distractions and invite yourself inward? Consider looking at the first six limbs* and keep building your foundation.
Ready to practice with a group? Join Karen on Thursdays at 8:30 pm for a 30 minute guided group meditation. Learn about Mindfulness Foundationsstarting April 5, and keep an eye out for our next Intro to Meditation. And learn about some of the underlying philosophy of Hatha Yoga in Douglas’ Ridings next series, Intro to Tantric Philosophy. Or join 8 Limbs instructor Claudette Evans, Visiting Teacher Michelle Johnson and others for the Love Your Brain Mindful March fundraiser to support free yoga classes for those with Traumatic Brain Injuries and their caregivers.
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Founder & Director of Education & Programming