Many associate Samadhi with enlightenment. Because of this, it doesn’t come to much surprise that Samadhi completes the final stage of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Samadhi is an experience that is often difficult for one to explain in words as it varies for each individual.
What Is Samadhi?
Samadhi is a state of consciousness where one is in a type of union with the universe, it is an intense state of concentration through meditation. There are different levels and each stage encompasses a different connection to divinity. But, when using the world alone, it means achieving enlightenment.
For the word itself, we can break this down into two Sanskrit meanings. ‘Sama’ represents ‘equal and ‘dhi’ means ‘to see’. In this definition, we can see the true purpose of enlightenment. As it is not about escaping the present moment but realizing what is in front of us in its entirety. For us to recognize that we are equal with one another, we remove conditioned thoughts that cause us to be judgmental of others. In that sense, we are learning to remove bias and achieve a better sense of peace and bliss in our lives.
It’s important to recognize that Samadhi is not a permanent. It is a state of mind that’s achievement is through the proper release of toxicities and attachments. It is then, when one is able to clear their mind, they are able sustain Samadhi for longer durations. This is a state of mind that requires diligence and dedication. This state of mind requires individuals to train themselves and dig deeper and confront issues in their subconscious.
What Are The Three Levels Of Samadhi?
There are three levels of Samadhi that elevate depending on one’s experience with meditation and turning inwardly. Each level takes dedication but most importantly, each level requires us to remove ourselves from the material world and to look within ourselves.
Level One: Savikalpa Samadhi
This is the first level of Samadhi. Within this stage you start to transcend all mental activity. Patanjali even states that for a short period of time, an individual loses human consciousness. This is because the way we see space and time are now altered. But, as this is not a permanent state, we return to consciousness as usual. Patanjali describes these stages to achieve Savikalpa Samadhi as follows:
- Stage 1- Savitarka Samadhi: This is where the mind becomes fixated on a physical object. The individual assesses the object for what it is through a full examination.
- Stage 2 – Savichara Samadhi: This stage focuses on the outer layer of an object and focuses more on the qualities that are abstract. This is a time for admiration of it’s texture, colors, texture, or sound. We recognize the full extent of the object and it begins to provide a breadth of insight of what it is for us to fully understand.
- Stage 3 – Sa-anada Samadhi: This stage moves past reasoning and requests our mind to rest. The mind becomes only aware of itself, its own joy and peace. The focus is about what is happening within ourselves.
- Stage 4 – Sa-Asmita Samadhi: At last, you are within the purity of your mind by shedding the ego, and being present. This awareness of the self, is all that remains. There is no fear, and no desire within this stage. Within Sa-Asmita Samadhi you are aware of the authentic divinity that resides within yourself.
Level Two: Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Nirvikalpa Samadhi asks us to recognize our ego and know the limitations of our material world. In this level of Samadhi, we begin to realize the possibilities of infinite peace. The heart will feel inviting and warm and that with your infinite love you encapsulate the universe within its embrace.
This shares parallels with the Divine Consciousness in the Shankara Tradition. This tradition speaks of compassion for the world and everything that resides in it. Divinity is in everything and because of this we appreciate and express love to everything and everyone. That this love is within this moment. That we transcend what we know about time and space as our futures and past blend into the now.
Level Three: Dharma Megha Samadhi
According to Patanjali this level is not one we attain with effort. It is when we reveal that we are not seeking anything, it is a divine gift that is received to those who have lost desires of our material world. This is a higher level of consciousness that’s received the name “Cloud of Virtue“.
Framework For Enlightenment
The most efficient pathway to move towards Samadhi is to follow the steps in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This is one of the oldest and most informative texts that identifies a framework for yoga practice.
In Sanskrit, this translates to regulation. This is about setting a guideline for morality in the universe. With discussions ranging from kindness to all beings, discipline of the mind and self-examination. This serves as a strong first step for yogi’s to gain insight and become connected to their spiritual selves.
This asks for you to confront the challenges that you’re facing. With this, you focus on the self and take charge of your personal decisions and lifestyle.
You may be familiar with the term asana as they refer to yoga poses. Yet, asanas can also refer to exercise for our minds. To truly achieve Samadhi, we must gain control of our emotions and set intentions.
If you’ve practiced yoga for a while, odds are you’ve heard of pranayama. This is about regulating our breath but also being appreciative. This is something we often take for granted yet it serves as fuel for our lives. Pranayama helps remind us of this.
Pratyahara is about focusing on our senses. In this step, Pratyahara encourages us to become more present. When turning to ourselves, we develop a direct connection to our senses and learn to trust them then always relying on sight.
Dharana in Sanskrit translates to “immovable concentration“. At this stage you are thinking with intention, going deep within yourself, and focusing on a direct connection to the body and mind. Now, Dharana asks for you to calm the busy engine of the mind. Try taking all the steps before you and focus on one thing. It doesn’t matter what the object is, but do so with the intent of being fully aware and present.
We achieve Dhyana once we are able to filter out the noise in our heads and are able to maintain concentration. This level of focus helps us to quiet our thoughts and delve deeper in meditation.
Samadhi is the final step where the body and mnd is clear and we redefine ourselves.
How To Move Towards Samadhi
Step 1: Start Simple
Start by making a commitment to yourself about saying one thing every day that you’re grateful for. Sometimes this can be making a note in a journal or saying out loud to yourself, but however it feels best for you, make it a habit to say something that you may otherwise take for granted.
Step 2: Be Present
Practice ways to be in the moment. This can be as simple as practicing your breathing, or as mentioned above, pranayama. Take a few moments of your day to slow down and calmly breath through the nose. Sit comfortably and focus on each breath, while remembering to relax the tension in your jaw and the muscles in your face.
Step 3: The Answers Are Within
Samadhi encourages us to look to ourselves for the answers. Most importantly, it requires us to shut out the material world and focus on what’s before us. It asks us to look at an object in our day-to-day life and truly examine it’s every detail. Assess it for what it is, acknowledge it for its purposes and recognize what it could be. Samadhi encourages us to see this in our lives, but also in ourselves. Take this time to evaluate some of the mental blocks or challenges you’ve been facing and gain control of your emotions and solutions that can help you to overcome them.
Step 4: Be Patient
Life is dependent on the lens in which we use. People experience life depending on their backgrounds, the lessons that they’ve learned and the life that they have lived. Exercising patients for yourself will only help you connect deeper in your meditations and help you appreciate the moment without being too stressed about reaching some sort of expectation. As reaching whatever expectation you desire will most likely not be achieved with this pressure that you put on yourself. Release these desires, as they are hindering your growth, and be accepting and open to what is to come.
Step 5: Equality
Equality is a large component to Samadhi. It requires us to become in-tune with the world around us. It’s important that in our journey we learn to appreciate our lives and the opportunities we have. For this step, practice things that nourish your soul. What drives you and makes you passionate? Is there always something that you’ve wanted to try? If you can’t think of anything specific, try aligning yourself with a specific cause and see how you can help volunteer.
Step 6: Universal Enlightenment
As detailed above, accepting the universal enlightenment guidelines will serve as a great foundation for you to get started on your pathway to Samahdi. This will help you to gain insight on the guidelines for morality, understand how to apply them in your life and how to connect with the self. Becoming familiar with these will help on the journey to achieving enlightenment.
Step 7: Practice Yoga
By practicing yoga, you are working to develop a stronger bond between the mind and body. This will aid your efforts when trying to concentrate on the self and the senses. You are gaining control of your movements and becoming aware of the energy within.
Step 8: Channel Your Energy
Channeling your energy and focusing on the now is an important step into Samadhi. It’s very important to learn to be in the moment and present. You can practice this by focusing on an object. This can be any household object that interests you. Just choose one and focus on it’s dimensions. Acknowledge it’s depth and its color. Practice on just focusing on one object for a specific length of time. Once complete, try another object for a longer duration of time. This practice will help you channel energy and better your practice of being present and focused.
Step 9: Practice Positive Thinking
When we’re focusing on the self, unwanted thoughts or negative emotions generally arise to the surface. This is often because we have suppressed these thoughts over time. They’ve chosen to linger in our subconscious and come out when they see the best opportunity to wreak havoc in our lives. When tuning into the self, we’re confronting these negative thoughts. This is an opportunity for us to accept these thoughts and see them as lessons in our lives. If we can accept these thoughts we are finally set free and able to continue our lives in liberation.
Step 10: Chakra Check-In
On this journey, check-in with what comes up for you. Are you noticing specific patterns that have been holding you back? Is there a specific concern that keeps coming to mind that you didn’t realize was troubling you? If this is the case, try taking a moment to meditate on what those thoughts are as they could align with a specific chakra. Identifying a specific chakra that relates to your concern may help you to find poses or techniques that help to move the negative energy out.
Step 11: Focus on Healthy Practices
It may seem obvious but for some this can be a challenge. Adopting a lifestyle that practices healthy choices is one that can raise your vibration and prepare the body on even a physiological level. Along with practicing yoga, try adopting leafy greens and vegetables. This can help your body (and mind) be uplifted and ready to concentrate.
Step 12: Learn About You
It’s difficult to know what is troubling us when we’re preoccupied living our lives and making ends meet. Sometimes we’re not aware of something enough to pin-point exactly what is troubling us. In this instance, perhaps there is a certain behavior that you’re doing that you are just not aware of. For instance, some individuals may have a habit of stress eating, but they’re not aware of it. Once you’re able to be an observer to your own life, you can better see these issues. Try removing yourself to see if you recognize any of your conscious choices by journaling your day-to-day or changing up your routine. This can help learn more about yourself and gain back control.
Step 13: Connect Spiritually
Some individuals may not have experience connecting themselves to their spiritual side. This is an element that is vital to the progression to Samadhi as you are working closer to enlightenment. If you wish to see beyond the material world, it will help to connect with the spiritual realm. This introduces you to know there is more beyond the here and now, that the universe is infinite and that we are all connected.
Step 14: Language Matters
In our daily routines, it may be easy to get lost in negative dialogue. We may be used to agreeing with coworkers or loved ones about topics that seem harmless like poor weather or a situation that happens at work. But, this language seeps into us. Into our subconscious it is telling us that it is okay to think this way. When we engage our thinking to be positive we are retraining our brain to speak and think positively.
Step 15: Become Familiar With The History
Lastly, becoming familiar with the history of Samadhi and Patanjali Yoga Sutras, will serve you best in guidance on moving towards Samadhi. You will be able to resonate with stories and statements that best serve you, while focusing on instances that resonate and challenge you.
Remember that each day there is an opportunity to confront our challenges and to delve in deeper to understanding ourselves and the world around us. Take time and be patient with yourself. Set intentions and be patient in your progress. Reaching enlightenment takes a commitment to the practice of yoga, spirituality and self-love.
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Former nutrition specialist Alexandra Mackenzie knows what it means to support the body and mind through food. She’s passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge with anyone willing to listen.