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The Eight Limbs of Yoga - Samadhi

Updated: May 2

Welcome to this week’s post on the guiding principles of the Science of Yoga - the Eight Limbs.


In this week's post, we'll take a look at the Eighth and final Limb of Yoga which known as Samadhi.


Samadhi:


Within the yogic tradition, ‘Samadhi’ is seen as the culmination of the previous practices that comprise the Eight Limbs; it is not a practice in itself, but rather a state of being.


Samadhi is the state and experience of oneness - the experience of the yogi as a unified whole.


Saints, Rishis and Sages throughout time, both from within and without of the yogic tradition, have sought to explain to humanity what Samadhi means and how the experience of being in the state of Samadhi feels, but it is here that human language fails utterly in its attempt to explain or express the concept.


To the being that has entered into the state of Samadhi, there is nothing to explain and no words are needed to express themselves or their experience - they have become themselves completely; there is no more internal or external division within the experience of themselves or in their relationship with the world; they have seen the face of God and found it to be their own.


There is no ‘this’, there is no ‘that’ - there simply ‘is’.


Samadhi can be translated in many ways into English, but the essential meaning is simply ‘oneness’ or, perhaps more poetically, ‘joining together’. It is this phrase, ‘joining together’, that, in my experience, best describes what Samadhi actually is. It’s also useful to note once again here that the meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is ‘union’ - it can be said with certainty that yoga is Samadhi.


To further understand the state of Samadhi, and indeed the preceding seven disciplines that lead to it, we can return to Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’ and examine the opening lines of this classic text.


Verse 1.2 provides the definition of what the state of Yoga/Samadhi is: ‘Yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ’ - ‘Yoga is the the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind’.


These ‘fluctuations’ can be called thoughts, feelings, emotions or reactions and comprise the majority of our everyday, temporal consciousness. The disciplines of yoga, as practised under the system of the Eight Limbs, are tried and tested methodologies that tame the mind and cultivate a state of stillness and calm within our consciousness.


Verse 1.3 delivers the outcome of recognising the state of Yoga/Samadhi: Tadā draṣṭuḥ svaru̅pe’vastha̅nam’ - ‘The seer (the yogi) becomes established in his true nature.’


It is this realisation of ‘true nature’ (also called the ‘true self’), that lies at the core of the yogic philosophy and practical teachings. Everything that we believe to be true about ourselves - our identity, uniqueness, perception and individuality), is a false understanding of who we are, created by the fluctuations of the ego-mind in its desperate attempt at self-identification, and therefore, survival.


It is only through the consistent practice of taming the mind and cultivating of a state of stillness and steady calm within our consciousness that the yogi can recognise the ego for what it is; with recognition comes the ability to let go; and with letting go comes the ultimate experience of human consciousness: Yoga


I’d like to finish this series of blog posts on the Eight Limbs of Yoga with the first line of the ‘Yoga Sutras’; ‘Atha Yoga Anushasanam’, meaning ‘Yoga begins now’.


The experience of yoga is not something transcendent or mystical that lies in our futures; it is available to us all, at any moment and at any time.


Yoga is who we are.


Matt ~ The Bearded Naked Yogi

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