A blog about bringing yoga to life
A blog about bringing yoga to life
The 8th and final limb of yoga... bliss
In a samadhi state, the distinction between self and other; subject and object falls away and you are left blissfully absorbed in the oneness of everything.
The word ‘Om’ represents the oneness of all existing things: the universe.
FUN FACTS FOR WORD NERDS: The word ‘universe’ comes from the prefix ‘uni’, meaning ‘one’, and the root word, ‘verse’, which means ‘word’. The universal sound is ‘Om’.
This sacred sound purportedly reveals itself to the inner ear of the enlightened yogi.
Here are some cool activities you can do to put yourself in touch with the oneness of everything:
Meditation: Chant 'OM'
Listen to NASA’s recording of the sound of the Universe.
Everyday life demands that we focus on the external world and plan for the future. As a result, we develop a habit of turning our attention outwardly - that is how the laundry gets done and dinner gets made, after all. So it's completely understandable that when we sit for meditation and try to focus our attention inwardly, our minds wander, drawn away by sensory stimulation or by memories of the past or thoughts about the future or ... or ... or ...
Meditation is the 7th of the 8 limbs of Classical yoga. It is the process of maintaining an unwavering, sustained focus on some object or internal physiological process (like breathing). Preparing for meditation requires us to hone our ability to concentrate (the 6th limb). Most of what we think of as 'meditation' exercises are actually concentration exercise that prepare us for getting into a meditative state - a flow state of continuous uninterrupted attention. In order to reach a meditative state, we must practice concentrating first.
A favourite concentration exercise of mine is the 31-points of light meditation (preparation for the 61-points exercise).
It is a great practice for a mind that likes to wander. The 31-points practice encourages your thoughts to move (through 31 specific points), spending just a moment on one point before moving to the next. It can train your mind to become inwardly oriented, calm and orderly.
Lie down and listen to the video for a quick run through the 31 points. When you’re familiar with them, you can practice without guidance and gradually increase the amount of time you spend focusing on each point.
As you practice and grow your ability to focus, you may find yourself slipping into a meditative state.
The 8-limbed path of yoga lays out a process for interiorizing your attention that eventually leads to a state of bliss. The process begins with the way you relate to the world (yama), then to yourself (niyama), body (asana), breath (pranayama), and inward focus of attention (pratyahara). All of this leads steadily towards deeper states of yoga, including states of Concentration (dharana), the 6th of 8 limbs of practice.
In concentration, awareness harmoniously flows towards a single object of focus. If you practice the first 5 limbs, you have laid the groundwork that will allow you to focus. It will also prepare you for entering into states of meditation and bliss (the final 2 limbs).
You might find yourself wondering what exactly you should direct your awareness towards? Just about anything: a mantra, your breath, bodily sensations, your heart, the pit of your throat, your navel, etc...one of my favourite recommendations from the Yoga Sutras is to focus on friendliness, compassion, delight, and equanimity (collectively known as the brahmaviharas) in order to become imbued with their energies.
Intention/Centering Thought: "My mind is quiet, focused and calm."
Breath/Meditation: Inhale and count to 8; exhale and count to 8
On the Mat: Practice some challenging balancing poses. It's hard to focus on anything other than the task of staying upright. (See the video below for a challenging standing balance pose practice)
Off the Mat: Cut down on multi-tasking. Practice pouring all of your focus and energy into just one thing at a time.