“If from moment to moment your mind dwells on what is and drops it effortlessly at once, the mind becomes no-mind, full of peace.” (Vasistha, Yoga Vasistha)
The above quotation simply describes meditation. The means to meditation being absolute non-attachment to any thought or feeling, pure subjective observation of anything which arises through the sense organs. However, meditation for Iyenga is “the knower, the knowledge and the known becoming one”. (Iyenga, 1979: 22) For Swami Sivananda, “The senses, the mind and the intellect cease functioning. There is neither time nor causation here”. (HYP: 598)
Meditation is often thought of as one-pointed focus. However, the more I think about meditation and the more people I talk to about it, meditation in this day and age is absolute absorption in anything, where time and space cease to exist; painting a canvas, playing a violin, carving a piece of wood, even doing crochet! Hartranft calls meditation “interiorisation”, the shifting of perspective away from externality toward an interiorised point of view. From the outer world or people, things, relationships, to the inner world of the attentional processes with which the external is seen. Or more specifically, interiorisation is the growing sense that awareness is not seeing an object per se, but instead observing a consciousness representing an object. (Hartranft, 2012: 13)
“We live in an attention deficit society. Our attention is trapped by advertising, the internet, traffic or shopping” (Stone, 2011), even sitting still and thinking too much, sometimes even thinking about thinking too much. Patanjali says that we can train our minds in stages so that we concentrate on one thing, we can hold that object in view for longer and longer without distraction, slowly training and slowing our minds down. This is called dharana. The mind eventually settles and this is called dhyana. Then language falls away, with it all subjectivity and there is a deep stillness where we feel and become part of a greater whole or samadhi.
The Buddhist, psychologist and writer Michael Stone translates samadhi as ‘intimacy’. (Stone, 2011: 32) The realisation then complete acceptance and meshing with the matrix of the external world, which I feel is a more inclusive and comprehensible concept of this state, for the western mind. Once one feels intimate with their external environment and realises their connection to every other sentient being on the planet, compassion arises and with compassion comes unconditional love. Samadhi is a fleeting state. With everyday living amongst other sentient beings challenges inevitably arise, which can knock us out of alignment and we can temporarily lose our samadhi, our compassion, our intimacy and love. But this is the challenge of living on this planet, these are the challenges of ‘household yogis’, these times are when we must look back within, act and not re-act and re-condition ourselves to step back out into the world.