When a yogi embarks on her path of yoga with the final goal of samadhi or enlightenment, she is expected to go through all the seven stages that come prior to this.
Improved concentration, better sleep, feeling connected to oneself, better immunity. A whole lot of positives have been dedicated to the practice of meditation.
Meditation has an important place in yoga. It tops the eight limbs or ashta anga or ashtanga of yoga. Since it is important to mention all the limbs of yoga before proceeding to meditation, here they are:
Yama and Niyama: The backbones of yoga that list out the personal conduct and discipline of a spiritual aspirant
Asana: Physical exercise
Pranayama: Control of the breath or the prana, the life force
Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses or sensory transcendence where the inward journey begins
Dhyana: Uninterrupted concentration or meditation
Samadhi: Enlightenment or spiritual ecstasy
When a yogi embarks on her path of yoga with the final goal of samadhi or enlightenment, she is expected to go through all the seven stages that come prior to this. While the first four limbs prepare the body—considered the temple of spirit—for samadhi; the following limbs or stages prepare the mind for it.
It may seem strange that I have decided to talk about dhyana and dharana before even touching upon yama or niyama, but there is a reason to it. I had heard of yogi and author Karan Bajaj and even carried an interview with him in the magazine I edit, Smart Life. But Bajaj started appealing to me only recently, when he shared with me a four-part video on meditation.
That video got me to look for other YouTube videos by him. In this video on meditation, he explains samadhi as the complete dissolution of the individual in the universe. If you are not able to make sense of it, the metaphor he uses—of a lump of salt dissolving in an ocean—would get you there. While explaining what purpose meditation serves, he refers to the Eastern philosophy, which explains the beginning of the world as one shimmering light—a throbbing globe of light that had the desire to experience itself. This desire made that one light to project to the many. As this energy or the light transmogrifies itself to first, inanimate forms, and then to animate forms, it struggles to fully express itself. There enters man and for the first time, there is an animate organism that can think and question.
Loneliness or a feeling of incompleteness becomes second nature to him as he tries to explore his purpose in the world. It is this exploration of self that sets him on a path of inward journey. Karan says meditation will start appealing to anyone going through an existential dread; when the question “who am I” begins to bother him. This is the same question that has put the seed of internal exploration in many mystics and sages including Gautama Buddha. And if you feel the same, maybe, it is time to embrace meditation and travel inwards.