DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi are set out in the final three limbs of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. Preceding Dharana Dhyana and Samadhi is Pratyahara, which is the connection between inner (antaranga) yoga and the external (bahiranga) yoga of the Yamas & Niyamas, Asana and Pranayama.
Dharana is the sixth limb of Patanjalis Sutras and is the fixing of the mind on a particular point. Whereas Pratyahara is drawing the awareness inside, and detaching it from information the senses have collected, Dharna refines the practice. Dharana is the ability to focus the mind on a point, without another associated thought drawing the awareness away from the original point.
Although fixing the mind plays an important part of a Pranayama practice, it should not be confused with Dharana. Fixing the mind in Pranayama is called Bhavana or contemplative thinking. The Yoga Philosophy of Patanjali says: On attaining certain maturity and refinement such Bhavana develops into Dharana and Dhyana properly so called.
In Dharana although the mind is fixed towards a single point, it may not be of a continuous and uninterrupted flow. When there is an uninterrupted flow of awareness then it becomes Dhyana.
Dhyana is the uninterrupted flow of awareness towards a single point. Dhyana as defined in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (10 chapters) comes in two types, Saguna (with features like colour) Nirguna (devoid of qualities or absolute) In Dhyana, the meditator is not conscious of the act of meditation, and is unaware of the outside world, there is only a continuous and uninterrupted flow of awareness towards an object.
Samadhi, the person who, in all places, has surrendered to a certain object and is absorbed in that object, he too attains a state of Samadhi (Yoga Yajnavlkya) Samadhi-If in that meditation the object shines back without being modified (Kleshas) by the mind at all, that is Samadhi.
OBJECTLESS SAMADHI & OBJECTIVE SAMADHI
Patanjali describes two states of Samadhi, objectless Samadhi (as defined above) and objective Samadhi.
In objectless Samadhi the object shines back unmodified. That means the object being observed is free from mental modifications, such as how shall I describe the object? Is it useful to me? In objective Samadhi there remains an element of modification. The difference is the observer is aware the object being observed is through mental modifications.
DHARANA DHYANA SAMADHI
Remaining detached from experiences brought about by mediation is essential if we are to proceed along the path. If we identify with the experience, we are longer the observer seeing it for what it is, just another experience. If we identify with the experience it will undoubtedly be from a position of ego.
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