Friday, April 7, 2017

What's the difference between Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana - the 5th, 6th and 7th limb of Yoga

"Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are the steps to asthanga yoga.  They need to practice all the steps in their body and mind both need a preparation and suppleness for samadhi." (Yoga Sutra 2;29)

After we do asana practice (physical yoga) which is how most Yogis in America consider to be the be all and end all of yoga there are other practices.  The goal of Ancient yoga was to reach Samadhi/Moksha/Bliss/Union/Enlightenment/Self Realization.  This is also my goal and a few other people I know.  Don't get my wrong I love practicing asana, but it isn't the only important part of my yoga practice.

Samadhi/Self-Realization is reached step by step according to the principles of Asthanga yoga (8 limbs of yoga not the practice by Pattabhi Jois).  In these steps the first step after Asana is Pranayama or Breath work. Breathwork is super popular right now in Los Angeles. Whole Soul Breathing is one of the most popular classes at my studio the Yogi Tree so I think people may be moving a little forward on the 8 limb path by embracing step 5.  I am so jazzed about the power of pranayama that after I finish my Yoga Therapy training I am going to study much more about Pranayama.  I think it is incredible healing and therapeutic and under utilized.

Pratyahara - Limb 5

"The practice of both posture and breath control leads to a progressive desensitization that shuts out external stimuli... When consciousness is effectively sealed off from the environment, this is the state of sensory inhibition, or pratyahara." - Feuerstein, The Yoga Tradition, p.250

Pratyahara is "holding of the mind in a motionless state" Tri-Shikhi-Brahmana-Upanishads (31)

The main practice I know of for Pratyahara is Yoga Nidra.  I studied Satyananda Yoga Nidra at the Yoga College of North America.  I swear by the practice.  And I am pretty much stuck here on on limb 5 and do much more pratyahara than concentration or meditation.

Dharana - Limb 6

Dharana is the sixth limb of Asthanga Yoga.  It means to focus attention of a given locus which could about anything, a candle, a chakra, a mantra, a yantra, a deity, whatever.  Dharana's Sanskrit root is dhri which means to hold.  What we are holding is our attention. As we focus our attention we are practicing one-pointedness.

Daniel Goleman considers Concentration as a meditation technique not something different than meditation he lists, TM, Kundalini Yoga, Sufism, Bhakri, Raja, Kabbalah as concentration based Meditation practices.  But by contrast, for Pantajali it is not meditation is a step on the path toward Self-Realization, step 6.

Dhyana - Limb 7

As we graduate from Dharana because our concentration has deepened we reach Dhyana, meditation absorption.We have moved from "one-pointedness" to "one-flowingness"

"The mind is restless no doubt and difficult to curb O Arjuna! But it can be brought under control by repeated practice of meditation (dhyana) and by the exercise of dispassion O son of Kunti!"

"Meditation is a method by which a person concentrates more and more upon less and less. The aim is to empty the mind while, paradoxically, remaining alert." (Clark, Map of Mental States)

Practice of dhyana leads to self-realization because through the regular practice of Dhyana the mind becomes detached and prepared for Samadhi

Meditation practices to Daniel Golemen are mindfulness and integrated practices and they include Zen, Mindfulness, and Vipassana

Samadhi - Limb 8

And then we get there.  Or someone does.  Maybe I have been there for a fraction of a second. But there it is even for the blink of an eye, Samadhi!

by Paramhansa Yogananda

Vanished the veils of light and shade,
Lifted every vapor of sorrow,
Sailed away all dawns of fleeting joy,
Gone the dim sensory mirage.
Love, hate, health, disease, life, death,
Perished these false shadows on the screen of duality.
Waves of laughter, scyllas of sarcasm, melancholic whirlpools,
Melting in the vast sea of bliss.
The storm of maya stilled
By magic wand of intuition deep.
The universe, forgotten dream, subconsciously lurks,
Ready to invade my newly wakened memory divine.
I live without the cosmic shadow,
But it is not, bereft of me;
As the sea exists without the waves,
But they breathe not without the sea.
Dreams, wakings, states of deep turiya, sleep;
Present, past, future, no more for me,
But ever-present, all-flowing I, I, everywhere.
Planets, stars, stardust, earth,
Volcanic bursts of doomsday cataclysms,
Creation’s molding furnace,
Glaciers of silent x-rays, burning electron floods,
Thoughts of all men, past, present, to come,
Every blade of grass, myself, mankind,
Each particle of universal dust,
Anger, greed, good, bad, salvation, lust,
I swallowed, transmuted all
Into a vast ocean of blood of my own one Being!
Smoldering joy, oft-puffed by meditation,
Blinding my tearful eyes,
Burst into immortal flames of bliss,
Consumed my tears, my frame, my all.
Thou art I, I am Thou,
Knowing, Knower, Known, as One!
Tranquilled, unbroken thrill, eternally living, ever new peace!
Enjoyable beyond imagination of expectancy, samadhi bliss!
Not a mental chloroform
Or unconscious state without wilful return,
Samadhi but extends my conscious realm
Beyond limits of the mortal frame
To farthest boundary of eternity
Where I, the Cosmic Sea,
Watch the little ego floating in me.
The sparrow, each grain of sand, fall not without my sight.
All space like an iceberg floats within my mental sea.
Colossal Container, I, of all things made.
By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation
Comes this celestial samadhi.
Mobile murmurs of atoms are heard,
The dark earth, mountains, vales, lo! molten liquid!
Flowing seas change into vapors of nebulae!
Aum blows upon vapors, opening wondrously their veils,
Oceans stand revealed, shining electrons,
Till, at last sound of the cosmic drum,**
Vanish the grosser lights into eternal rays
Of all-pervading bliss.
From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt.
Ocean of mind, I drink all Creation’s waves.
Four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light,
Lift aright.
Myself, in everything, enters the Great Myself.
Gone forever, fitful, flickering shadows of mortal memory.
Spotless is my mental sky, below, ahead, and high above.
Eternity and I, one united ray.
A tiny bubble of laughter, I
Am become the Sea of Mirth Itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It is much appreciated.