Meditation and Samyama (Part Two)

meditation
Photo by Robert Rodriguez

Writing is a lot like yoga—it takes you deeper. A few weeks ago, I wrote Part One of this article, in which I discussed samyama as a means to transforming your practice and experiencing dharana, dhyana and samadhi all at once.

Meditation can take years of committed practice to attain, while talking or writing about yoga often serves as preparation for actually knowing it. In my last article, I used the word “focus” to describe samyama, which is fitting, but incomplete. The deeper I dive into my own meditation practice, the more I understand the distinguishing features of samyama, and each element’s importance. So, this is why I am talking about samyama again.

If you imagine the “focus” of a meditation practice as the re-harnessing of your mind’s awareness, then this aspect of samyama is more accurately described as dharana, or the experience of concentrating so intently that you constantly re-commit to your focal point to stay “in it.” With practice, time and patience however, this ultimately turns into dhyana, or meditation so focused it becomes effortless—it’s simply happening. The last step of samyama is samadhi, something most of us aren’t really prepared for, as it refers to complete self-dissolution. I assure you this is less terrifying than it sounds—it’s about the experience of complete oneness with Spirit, God or the Universal.

When meditating, it’s common to observe yourself drifting in and out of multiple states. For example, you might be able to focus on a mantra, but it probably takes considerable effort to maintain this for longer than a few minutes. With time, and after many years (or even lifetimes) of earnest and regular meditation practice, the struggle to remain focused lessens, and these three states ultimately give way to the pure experience of samyama.

The experience of samyama happens when we are able to sustain a meditative experience with absolutely no effort. The state of expansive possibility where paradoxes become completely harmonious. You are not destroyed but a part of a greater whole, just as salt dissolves to make salt water.

Samyama is said to, with time, bestow the ability to understand the deepest, most thorough nature of anything you want to know. In this state, yogis have the ability to understand concepts that were once seemingly impossible to grasp. When practicing samyama, we are in such unity with pure knowledge that we are able to simply receive it—there is no distinction between it and us. Scriptures state that when we achieve samyama, our outward appearance may not change, but internally, we are transformed into peaceful beings, trusting the inherent truth of all things. In this place, we are unshakable—there is no being upset or scared or stressed. We are liberated from that which held us back, while simultaneously able to participate and interact with everyday life.

Such a miraculous state of being has been said to release supernatural powers (siddhis) inside yogis that defy our understanding of time and space. I don’t however, advise that you approach your meditation practice with the goal of attaining samyama to secure this ability. Even attainment of samadhi can be lost again, overgrown by thick vines of samskara that sprout from within the deep seeds of our karma. So be humble on the yogic path, and walk it slowly with the understanding that not everything is what it seems to be. When you find samyama—if you are able to locate it—you will know it on a deep, soul level, indescribable to even the best of yogic writers.

Has your yoga uncovered any “super powers?” How has your committed practice helped you access them?

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