Sutra 3.1: desa bandhas cittasya dharana
When the attention of the mind-stuff is directed in a single stream to a chosen field, without being dissipated and thus distracted – that is concentration. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
Sutra 3.2: tatra pratyayai katanata dhyanam
Keeping the attention uninterruptedly in that state [of concentration] is meditation. Translation by Kofi Busia
When the cognition is entirely concentrated in that field thus becoming its own field of observation – that is, when the observer is observed – it is meditation. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
One the best current health crazes is meditation –and there’s evidence that supports its efficacy at boosting wellness, so by all means get into the craze! There are also many attempts to define meditation; most seek to answer less what the experience is and more what you do to engage in meditation. The sutras are no exception.
In a word, the experience of deep meditation is yoga, so the entirety of the Yoga Sutras is an exposition on this mysterious (but not really!) state of being we call meditation. It’s in that “not really!” that sutras 3.1 + 3.2 give you the clearest definition of meditation: dharana, concentrating with keen effort on a single point of focus, is the action that leads to dhyana, maintaining that focus with ease –that is, the act of concentration becomes the experience of concentration.
The yogis who developed various approaches to establishing a meditative state recognized that it is not easy to hold one’s focus –and if that was true in a time before twitter and facebook and smartphones, well, I guess we have our work cut out for us! That said, the techniques are more powerful than twitter, facebook, or smartphones. We simply need to give them a chance. Remember, through effort and activity, the brain will follow where you lead it. Practice, consistently and with enthusiasm for the practice, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to drown out the sound of chatter in your brain with the space of stillness.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.