तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् I
tatra pratyaya-ekatānatā dhyānam
Then (tatra), meditation (dhyānam) occurs when there is an uninterrupted flow of awareness (pratyaya) towards a single object (ekatānatā).
PRACTICAL LIVING Meditation (dhyānam) is a word we hear daily nowadays. It is used to refer to many different situations and states of mind. Here Patañjali is referring to a state that some of us have experienced but perhaps not frequently. In Positive Psychology it is referred to as ‘flow’ – an experience of being fully involved and energized while engaged with something. Frequently, attaining this state requires previous practice. Practice (sādhana) is a pre-requisite to experience meditation, flow or being ‘in the zone’. The practice requires concentration – training the mind to focus on one object for extended periods of time (see sūtra I.14).
How do we know we have meditated? Usually there is a feeling of having lost track of time – one hour has passed and it felt like 5 minutes. An experience of loss of self – one loses awareness of the body, thoughts and emotions – there is transcendence of that. The result is often energizing yet relaxing. One has the feeling of having bathed by light (color) and feels light (weight) as a feather.
Any activity can become a meditation. We can experience this while dancing, painting, cooking, bathing, making love, studying, chanting…But we cannot control when it will happen – it just does, or doesn’t. So we keep practicing and maybe one day we will experience the beauty of meditation.
It seems to me that like most things in life, meditation is a state that manifests in different ways to different people in different moments of our lives. A monk who has been sitting in meditation for the past four decades probably has a different experience of meditation than an artist who loses herself in her art. They are both similar experiences, yet different. Both are losing track of time, space and themselves. Both are in communion with their objects. They are both probably very fulfilled coming out of that experience. The monk though, may come out of that state feeling peaceful and at ease. The artist may come out of it exhilarated and inspired by their own creation.
Meditation techniques are numerous. Actually, we should be saying that concentration techniques are numerous since meditation is more the result of the practice of concentration. Find an experienced teacher who can offer you tools appropriate to your unique likes, needs, lifestyle, beliefs and interests.
IN THE YOGA WORLD In India it is said that meditation is like pouring oil from one container to another – the flow is continuous, smooth and constant. In this state, the mind’s craziness (vrttis – see sūtra I.5) rests and clarity resides. These moments are often accompanied by insights, a fresh and new perspective, and openness. Flow or meditation is the result of the practices we have been discussing in the previous two chapters. Like a well known Yoga teacher would say “Practice and all is coming” – Pattabhi Jois.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON A born Yogini, this woman inspires with her words, her actions and her dedication to everything she commits to. Martha, a warm, loving and funny life-warrior, has the strength of a lion and the tenderness of a Mama bear. Her devotion to her Yoga practice, her family, and her well-being is unbelievable. She is also a passionate activist for human rights. She lives life fully, taking life’s challenges with grace and so much love. Martha, watching you dance through life filled with fierceness and grace is beautiful. Te quiero mucho Diosa!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will discuss the ultimate state!