Tuesday, April 22, 2008

concentration, meditation & more

This past Sunday we had our second gathering at the studio for more discussion of what yoga might look like away from the mat. I left feeling very satisfied from the delicious food, refreshed from the conversation, and optimistic that yoga will one day indeed change the world. Well maybe yoga AND Eckart Tolle. And Oprah.

Here's a rundown of the discussion about the last three limbs of yoga. The last three limbs are more internally processed.

Dharana = state of concentration
I like to think about dharana as being lost and totally absorbed by something. We've all experienced something where we lose track of time, where we're not paying attention to any outside disturbances. It's a place where you're fully present and focused. This is I called dharana. And I call it a state of flow.

Examples of who and when we go there might be:
Reading a good juicy book that you can't put down
Digging in the dirt...or gardening
Hiking in the woods
And of course there are many more. But most importantly, can you find an activity or something that leads you to this state of concentration, or flow?

We talked about how this concentration prevents the inner conflicts that we can experience during other times. When we're completely engaged by what we're doing, chances are we wont be worried about that upcoming project.

We discussed how when there are conflicts between our actions and thoughts, we are more likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Which could result in less joy in life. And really, who wants that? I imagine no one.

Next we talked about meditation, or dhyana. Dharana and dhyana might appear to be quite similar. In yoga class we use the breath to focus on (dharana) hoping that this might lead us to dhyana. When we experience meditation, we have moved beyond concentration to a place that's really a state of being.

Pretty deep stuff, right? But it's all so very useful and beautiful. The key is finding what works for you. Here are some reasons why you might choose to meditate:

*Move toward wisdom and insight
*To experience growth as a person
*Gain greater self knowledge
*Move from duality to oneness

I personally feel that meditation isn't just limited to sitting cross legged on the floor. I think a number of things can lead to a meditative state. Why limit ourselves? If meditation is such a great state, a cool place to journey to....why limit it to the twenty minutes you sit on the floor. Why not make as much of your day possible, a place of concentration or meditation?

Some questions that I asked the group that you may ask yourself:
1. Do you think meditation can take place anytime?
2. Is it limited to specific practices?
3. What if meditation wasn't just another thing we add to the "to do" list, but if everything in life becomes part of meditation?

And lastly we talked about the icing on the cake......samadhi. Samadhi is a place of bliss, oneness, wholeness. You might feel a deep sense of understanding and peace. You might feel connected to everything and everyone. This feeling might come and go. It may linger longer. And some might live the rest of their life in a state of bliss.

I always like to stress the point that it's important not to get too hung up on whether you are doing these things right or wrong, good or bad, too long or not long enough. Much like I talk about asana (the poses).

Take it, make it your own, live joyfully with passion and compassion.

Enjoy the sunshine!

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