Back in 2014 I decided to finally travel to India, the primary source of yogic teachings, to spend ten days meditating in a shrine to Sri Vidya, the Tantric lineage of my teachers. Sri means “most auspicious, beautiful, joyful”; vidya means “knowledge.” I didn’t really know at the time why exactly I was going, how I’d get there, or what it would be like, but I knew I had to go.
After two years of planning and preparing, and two days of travel, I arrived in Khajuraho, a remote town in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the aptly named “middle province” of India. There was so much about that voyage, and my time in India, that was superlative, but what I most remember was my time deep in the shrine, in the early morning darkness, when the years (lifetimes?) of preparation for this voyage came to fruition, and I found myself deeply within, in a state of absorption. Nothing was pulling me away, and I felt completely at home, at peace, in my own presence.
This month we find ourselves at the end of our own journey through the eight limbs* of yoga. Here is a review of the last three limbs, which make up the practice of samyama:
- Paying 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.
Samādhi is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “absorption”, “bringing together”, “integration”, “fully established”, perfect consciousness”. My understanding is that it can be accessed by any of us, though it is often fleeting; a “sublime feeling (that) stays with you like a sweet whisper calling you to return to your inner Self” according to Pandit Rajmai Tigunait. This is a journey, but one that brings us within instead of to any external location or destination.
As we’ve traveled together through the eight limbs, our hope is that you have been inspired to deepen your practice, and continue the journey within. These teachings exist in many places, most notably in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali. Tomorrow you have a rare opportunity to chant the Yoga Sutras with Claudette Evans. Click here to learn more.
May your April be full of blossoms, sunshine, and that sweet whisper calling you to return to your inner Self.
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Founder & Director of Education & Programming