The seventh of the eight limbs of yoga is Dhyana, or meditation. This state occurs when Dharana (concentration) is held on the same object for some time. Another way to describe this state is that it is made of a string of back to back moments of concentration linked together without interruption. Again and again and again we are only aware of the object of choice.
Different teachers and traditions advise on different objects of concentration. Some suggest focusing on the breath, others the third eye point, and still others put the focus on a Mantra (a repeated sound). Patanjai suggests focusing awareness on one of these things: breath, the sensations of the senses (just feeling), the inner light which is free of pain (most easily felt at the heart center), a mind which has already attained freedom of desire (the mind of a great sage or yogi), the state of dreaming or sleep (not the dreams themselves), or any object which brings a state of stability to the mind of the practitioner.
Through the practice of meditation our mind becomes stabilized and clear like a transparent crystal. The mind in this state is bright and aware, and can come to know any object it puts its attention on. In this clear state the mind is less susceptible to the impressions that create the cycle of karma. It lives in pure consciousness.
I'd love to hear about your meditation. During the month of October, please post your meditation or meditation inspired pictures to Instagram. Tag me at @landyoganyc and hashtag #howimeditate #alleightlimbs and I'll share your stories.
Meditation techniques should not be forced and are best experienced under the guidance of a teacher and in conjunction with all the previous limbs.