To me the ‘outer limbs of Yoga’, as Pathanjali called them, are not very important. Real yoga begins at the practice of Dharana, or retention of mind. Dharana turns into Dhyana (meditation) and then dissolves into Samadhi (absorption).
This is not something alien to us. We do the three all the time.
We are reading a story, we become interested in a character, we forget the outer world ( this is Pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses from everything else to our chosen object) , the character retains our intense interest ( This is retention of mind or Dharana) we follow everything he or she does, this is a form of Dhyana or meditation, for meditation is the constant flow of attention on something, then slowly we become totally absorbed in the character, his pain becomes ours, his troubles become ours, his happiness becomes realized within us. This is absorption or Samadhi.
Knowledge occurs when these three merges together into one. This is called Samyama by Pathanjali. Everything that we know really well in our lives is the result of this Samyama. It’s difficult to translate the word Samyama. Let us say that at the stage when the Dharana, Dhyna and Samadhi merges together the state called Samyama is reached.
We only need to do these together to reach our real self and our work is done, it is as simple as that. As I have stated again and again the Sambavi Mudra is the only method to reach the state easily and faultlessly.
Let us now try to learn how we can bring Dharana into the practice of this Mudra. Close your eyes, try to sit erect and visualize the darkness in your forehead. You will immediately see a point of light appearing and going away, then several things would appear as I stated in my post on Sambavi Mudra. If they come just watch them without intensely concentrating on them and without thinking about them, just be a witness. To some the light may not even appear at first, don’t get agitated, visualize the darkness alone.
Don’t give up.
If the light refuses to appear watch what your mind is doing, it will be constantly shifting thoughts. Soon you will realize there are two parts to your mind, one creating the thoughts or receiving them and one watching this process all along. This is not anything new, you have been always aware of it, though unconsciously. You need to pick on this watching portion of your mind and stay with it. It is the real you. It is the ‘I’ part.
As you stay with it you will feel yourself as awareness. The mind will emptied of thoughts and will starts to feel that you are knowing yourself as ‘I am’ and finally that you are nothing but this ‘I Am’. Even this will pass on to a state of pure ‘Is’ ness, where the ego or “I” would also disperse into your real being.
You will then realize yourself as existence.
At this point a vast, deep black hole might appear before your mind’s eye, covering your entire existence and about to swallow everything in you. If you become frightened at this point you will come out of the deep meditative state you were in. But if you can be brave about it and face it you will be absorbed into Samadhi.
Some might fear that they will never come out of it. Don’t heed to it, what if you never come out of it even? That is the ultimate state of being, that’s the state of bliss as those Rishi’s of yore said.
It is the State of Sat Chit Ananda. Then nothing remains to be attained. But don’t worry you will come out of it. Your physical vehicle would have something to do in the world still.