Stoke Your Spirit: Achieve True Meditation
By Nicki Doane (this article originally appeared in Yoga Journal Online)
Yoga Journal asked Nicki Doane, co-owner and director of Maya Yoga Studio in Maui, to share with us a teaching from each of the four chapters of the Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali this month. This week: How to achieve true meditation.
The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: Kaivalya Pada
Now we have arrived at the final chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. It is called Kaivalya Pada, which translates as isolated and absolutely pure. This is the culmination of the yogi’s sadhana, or practice. It is said that when a yogi reaches the state in which he or she is no longer a slave to their own mind, true and eternal liberation, or moksha, has been achieved. The meaning of this chapter was described to me as the state in which consciousness rests on itself.
What Is True Meditation?
As one progresses in their spiritual practice, the asanas and pranayama (poses and breathwork) lead organically to a mind that can begin to concentrate (dharana). When concentration has been achieved, then the mind is ready for the higher realms of meditation (dhyana). True meditation as Patanjali defined it is much deeper and profound than we can imagine. It is here in this state that we begin to practice self-realization, or the art of getting to know ourselves better and better. When we are in true absorption or meditation, the differences we may believe about ourselves and others begin to fade away. This is the juiciest part of the practice, and it’s here that we start to catch glimpses of what samadhi, or enlightenment, truly is. As Bob Marley says, we are all one love—the only walls of separation are created by the human ego.
Achieving Freedom From the Mind
Therefore, it only makes sense to tear down the walls through the practice and study of yoga. It is only when we realize that the mind is simply another sense organ and is made up of the collection of imprints that life puts on it that we start to see that we are so much more than our minds. Something I say all the time in class when I am teaching is to be careful not to believe everything we think, especially about ourselves! When our mind is unfettered by ego desires and judgments, it is then and only then that we can truly be free. So, it only makes sense to follow the path of yoga sincerely and patiently if we hope to be free. I know for sure that that is one of the reasons why I continue to practice and teach this ancient art and science that is yoga. May all beings everywhere be free and happy!