Pratyahara,Dharana,Dhyana and Samadhi

12 Dec



Pratyahara, or control of the senses, is described as a “withdrawal of the senses from external objects”. It actually translates as the act of “to withdrawing oneself from that with nourishes the senses”. Our senses are, of course, nourished by sounds, sights and smells. Therefore, to practice Pratyahara, it is necessary to meditate, and to focus the mind and, therefore, the senses, away from everyday external distractions. Overt reliance upon external objects brings about an almost perpetual state of discontentment, and therefore interrupts our path to inner peace. It is said that through Pratyahara, our senses cease to be our masters, in a sense, and it becomes easier to look inside to find all of the nourishing stability and tranquillity that we need.


Dharana is the cultivating of inner perceptual awareness. It has also been translated as “immovable concentration of the mind.” As part of Dharana, we create the appropriate conditions to enable mind to focus its attention in one specific direction, as opposed to stemming out into several different directions. Dharana is achieve through meditation, contemplation and reflection. As stated by B.K.S. Iyengar, the objective of Dharana is to achieve a mental state in which the mind, intellect and ego are “all restrained and all these faculties are offered to the Lord for His use and in His service.” He says that, under Dharana, “there is no feeling of “I” and “mine”.”


Dhyana is devotion to, or meditation on, the Divine. Like Dharana, Dhyana is achieved through meditation. Once the mind is clear and focused through Dharana in the first instance, it then becomes possible to direct one‟s focus onto the Divine spirit. It becomes clear through Dhyana that the external world, as we have traditionally known it, is in fact unreal, and that real world is the Universal Self, or God.


Samadhi, the last of the eight limbs of yoga and the final step in the yogic path, signifies a complete union with the Divine, or “oneness with the object of meditation”. During Samadhi, there is absolutely no distinction between the act of meditation and the object of meditation. The mind ceases to distinguish between the self and the non-self, and, as stated by Doran, “there is only the experience of consciousness, truth, and unutterable joy.” In Samadhi, the liberated soul enjoys a pure identity, and what is called “true yoga” is achieved. Samadhi can only be achieved as a result of great discipline and practice, with asanas and pranyamas paving the spiritual pathway that, in turn, helps the practitioner to achieve Dharana and Dhyana.


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