This past week in our yoga classes here at The Yoga Room we completed our 8 Limbs of Yoga session by focusing on the final limb, Samadhi. When we succeed in becoming so absorbed with something that our mind becomes completely one with it, we are in a state of samadhi. Samadhi means ‘to brings together’ or ‘to merge’. In samadhi our personal identity–name, profession, family history, bank account and so forth–completely disappears. In the moment of samadhi none of that exists anymore. Nothing separates us from the object of our choice; instead, we blend and become one with it and the Universe. Samadhi is a sense of interconnectedness or oneness. It is also sometimes just described as peace or bliss.
The last four limbs of yoga–pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi–can seem rather heady and esoteric. I told a personal story in my classes, though, of how I experienced these last four limbs just this past week. I was at Kensington Metropark, taking a walk by myself on the nature trails. I had kind of ‘shut out’ the external world (pratyahara) by being by myself in the woods where it was quiet and peaceful. Shortly into my walk, about 10 feet in front of me a sandhill crane walked out onto the trail. I stopped in awe, thinking ‘This is so cool!’ as I had never seen a sandhill crane that close up before. A few seconds after I spotted it, a baby sandhill crane walked out onto the path behind it! And then a few seconds after that, the other parent came out onto the path behind the baby! I stood looking at them for a couple minutes, wondering if they were going to let me walk by them, if they were going to attack me to protect their baby, or what they were going to do, all the while thinking, ‘This is so cool!’ So I had that intial contact (dharana), focusing on these objects of nature. The parents looked at me a couple times but did not seem bothered by my presence. My mind calmed and there became this effortless connection or interaction with them (dhyana). And then, after watching them a while longer, I was just completely absorbed in the present moment. There was no ‘other.’ There was just pure bliss and peace, that sense of interconnectedness and oneness with nature and the Universe. This was my Samadhi experience. I have no doubt that most of you have had experiences like this as well. In fact, being in nature is probably one of the best possible places to experience Samadhi.
We can’t force Samadhi experiences to happen, but we can ‘set the stage’ for them by practicing the other previous limbs, such as drawing our awareness away from the external world and practicing keeping our attention in the present moment. I encourage you to go out now and have your own Samadhi experience!