“Do not let anyone challenge you by saying “who are you to experience these states?” We are all children of the Divine and, as such, we deserve to let go of unworthiness and experience Samadhi” -Gregor Maehle
There is an end point in yoga. You cannot hold onto a magical pose forever, or achieve an everlasting bliss. Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind. That zero state of no mental movement is the closest we get to death in the physical world.
A finish line may seem counter-intuitive to the information we receive in yoga texts; most yoga literature and teachers tell us we need to stay present, and not worry about the past or future because yoga never ends. That is brilliant advice, but why did Patanjali make an eight-limb system of yoga?
Samadhi is the end, we all have paths which involve the seven other limbs. However, that outcome is in the distant future for most of us.
Trinity of Samadhi
Gregor Maehle says this of Samadhi,
“During Samadhi, you need to go beyond identification with the body. That is easiest achieved in a meditation posture that brings the body into perfect equilibrium. In other words, there is a link between asana (physical) practice and Samadhi, but asana is just one of the supports of Samadhi and not a means to achieve it. While a daily asana (physical) practice even of, say, 90 minutes helps with achieving Samadhi, to improve your odds it must be supplemented with alternate nostril breathing with breath retention, Kundalini, and chakra meditation and then taking yourself through the octave of the Samadhis.”
There is a three-step process to achieving Samadhi. I call it the trinity of yoga: Fundamentals, Centering, and Scripting (thought, emotion, and action).
Yoga culture is obsessed with “kundalini awakenings” and born-again Christian type of experiences. Maehle refutes sudden Kundalini awakenings in his book and discusses how it is a mechanism for control and profits. Even if they have a revelatory experience, what actions are they taking after the fact? Most top yoga leaders hustled for decades to achieve any form of prominence.
Patanjali laid out seven steps before we reach the door of awakening. In mythology, all aspirants for the Holy Grail (Samadhi) have to face similar trials. Joseph Campbell laid this out these steps in his book “The Heroes Journey.”
The start of any journey is a call to adventure in our life.
All Yoga is Created Three Times
Following Patanjali’s sutras, all creation goes through the purusa (the innermost conscious self), our minds, then manifests in the physical reality. All possibilities lay in purusa until summoned by the mind, and most stay there unless the vision has enough clarity. A comparison to asana is the bandha, mind, then body connection.
We first engage bandha which opens the vortex of the pelvic girdle, our brain recognizes the cue and prepares the body for the pose, and our body finally carries out the pose. We all know how hard it is to hit a difficult pose, and it is impossible without first the bandha and the mind signaling us into it.
This trinity is the freedom that yoga brings each of us; we take control of the body, breath, and then mind thus gaining our liberation.
Starting from the middle
Most new yogis start in the middle and not the beginning of yoga. Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation are the third, fourth, and fifth limbs of yoga. Yogis miss fundamentals when they skip the first two limbs and hop into the physical postures and breathing exercises.
Samadhi (the end) is impossible when a does not live the first two limbs. Many yogis return to tenants of the first limb (non-violence, vegetarianism) years into their practice. Yogis practice for decades and are missing simple things such as goals, a mission statement, and knowledge of the history of yoga.
As Nietzche said
“A man without a plan is no man at all.”
First Step of Samadhi
Next time you are at your studio ask the owner for the studio’s mission statement. Or ask your teacher what their mission statement is.
I know that sounds ridiculous, but what great company does not have a mission statement? What great guru does not have a mantra?
Yoga culture needs to reduce the corporation mindset and return to a system of clarified values. We need basic steps to walk upon to reach the top. Without a simple thing such as a mission statement, you will not find your way to Samadhi.
Asana and Pranayama help us find our mission statement. A clear body and breath (limb three and four) are the portals to our higher potential.
As an example, my personal mission statement is,
“To show the power of self-transformation through love.”
Yoga has transformed my life. Not only have my physical attributes changed, the whole structure of how I approach life has changed as well. The love I discovered in yoga drives me to give out valuable free articles, videos, and content to the community.
In my Star Wars and Yoga article, I discuss how opening the heart chakra is the ultimate balance. Once we move out of the fundamentals, we have to control the heart center to reach the end of yoga.
The Center Of Your Yoga
Our center of yoga stems from our mission statement. Our principles are what make up our wisdom, strengths, weaknesses, and power. The chances of reaching Samadhi depend on what our yoga centers around. A human with a strong focus on money is not getting to Samadhi.
However, I cannot see a yogi in modern times achieving Samadhi while ignoring the whole world and remaining broke. The exercise below will help show where your belief center for yoga is at this moment.
Get out paper and a pencil and draw a circle. Divide it into six pieces of pie. Label each piece
Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are at peace in that area of yoga (outer rim indicates a positive view; inner circle indicates an negative one) Now connect the dots. This chart will show where you are lopsided.
If you are new to personal development, it’s okay to have a tarantula shape. Emotions assassinate a healthy yoga practice.
Anger, jealousy, envy, and sadness about others’ abilities are the start of imbalance. Perfection is not attainable, and attaining Samadhi for just being flexible, a mediator, influential teacher, or being rich won’t happen either.
We create instability when we fill our life with “have” statements
“If only my teacher would have moved me onto the next pose today.”
‘I’ll be happy when my kids are gone, so I have more time to practice.”
“If I didn’t have such a time-consuming job I could practice.”
“If only I had a more understanding husband to my yoga.”
In a balanced, centered yogi, the practitioner moves into the present tense instead.
“ I can be more patient with my teacher.”
“I can achieve that pose when I am more patient with my body.”
“I can be more content with my kids.”
“I can be wiser in how I handle work.”
“I can be more loving to my husband.”
A balanced center doesn’t react to anything; your heart will not switch teams or ever let you down. Eliminate the haves and focus on BEING.
Only once we elevate out of the past and ground in the present can we move into the higher realm of consciousness.
Scripting your Yoga
A yogi is near the end when they consciously script actions into their life. The fundamentals gave us right thoughts, centering gave us true emotion, and now the script will give us right action.
After the first two levels, we understand that we are perfect. Then we enter the fifth limb, pratyahara, which is the deprivation of senses. Yogis must eliminate ego, titles, cultural attachments, and fear in this limb.
“Where does the ego get its energy? The ego feeds off your desire to be something else. You are poor, and you want to be rich – the ego is absorbing energy, its life-breath. You are ignorant, and you want to become a wise one – the ego is absorbing energy. You are a wretched nobody, and you want to become powerful – the ego is absorbing energy. ” -Osho
The mind has to be empty for Dharana, the sixth limb, which entails the mind focusing on one mental object. As we cut the energy source to the ego, the real law of attraction will appear.
Where thought, emotion, and action are in unison, we manifest our desires. During this step, the yogi plays out a conscious script of their deepest being. A childlike mind returns, and we have the courage to love and create.
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”
The last thing holding back a yogi from Samadhi is dhyana. The seventh limb of yoga is similar to Dharana, except it is a meditation of supreme awareness. We hold onto no thought, and we find stillness. Gregor Maehle describes this as “If you can sit for 3 hours concentrating on one object ( a tall order) then you get to the GOAL of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.”
The steps to Samadhi are complete. Yoga has ended. However, Samadhi is an infinite plane where we have unlimited levels of exploration. The end is a whole new beginning which awaits us. The time to prepare for that new journey is now.
When will you be ready to climb?