Concentration, Meditation and Absorption
I have been studying the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras known as the Vibhuti Pada . This chapter begins by defining concentration, meditation and absorption and then reveals what these three practices bring to the yoga practitioner. Let’s look at each of these more internally focused yogic petals.
Concentration is defined as directed awareness. As we go about our day, we have many choices as to where to direct our awareness. Will we think about the grocery list? Will we dwell on what is making us unhappy? Will we mentally chew ourselves out again for not being good enough? Yoga practice asks us to consciously choose to direct our awareness on an object that can be as simple as the breath, or as unknowable as the universe. Practicing Dharana can bring control to the mind.
Meditation is defined as sustained directed awareness. The first step is to be aware, and to direct the awareness. But anyone who has tried to sustain awareness for a length of time knows that it is not easy to maintain the awareness. Yoga asks us to practice the art of sustaining the awareness over a period of time with the emphasis on steady contemplation.
Absorption is defined as sustained directed awareness where the mediator becomes absorbed in the object of meditation. Mr. Iyengar compares Samadhi to a musician losing herself to the music, or an artist transcending himself with painting. But he also says that yogi can experience Samadhi continuously, while the musician cannot sustain his experience into his or her ordinary existence. In the state of Samadhi, we experience silence.
What does the practice of the above three yogic petals bring to us? The Yoga Sutras say we become integrated, and knowledgeable, and that insight is gained to the object of contemplation. This is how wisdom arises.
About the Author: Nina Pileggi is the owner and director of Sunset Yoga Center. She is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and has taught yoga for over 15 years.