Samadhi is thought by many to translate to enlightenment, but this is where things get even more trick with yoga. See, yoga is not a religion, but a practice that can align with almost any religious practice. So, what Enlightenment means to you may be different than what Enlightenment means to me.
Some examples include:
- A deeper relationship with your god(s)
- Knowing your purpose in life
- Understanding the larger picture
- Devoting yourself to a higher power/something bigger than yourself
- Feeling connected
- Having the answers
- Seeing the future
Really, enlightenment branches off of the same ideas of understanding and knowledge. When we talk about Chakra Archetypes we see that those who live in their 7th Chakra are considered the “Sage” archetype. They are seers and knowers and understand it all.
So, how does this fit into the meditation we’ve been learning about?
Simple….only if you want it to. Remember last week I told you that there are many different intents for meditation, so it really depends on what you want to get out of the experience, but enlightenment can be one of those things. Here are three ways to look at Enlightenment through meditation.
Becoming Aware – I like to do a Breath Awareness activity with my yoga students. It goes a little something like this:
Remember that yoga is a practice of acceptance. In our breathing exercise we will focus on an acceptance of where we are in our breathing patterns. Find a comfortable supine or seated position. Suggested poses include Corpse, Hero, a simple cross legged posture, or even Mountain. Close your eyes and draw your attention inward to the breath. Remember that we are just observing our breath and that we are not attempting to change it in any way.
Learning to perceive our breath without making alterations to it can allow us to recognize areas of constriction within the body and distinguish between various problematic breathing patterns. Ask yourself the following questions knowing that there are no right or wrong answers:
- Where is the breath traveling within the body?
- Does the belly rise?
- Does the chest rise?
- Is air filling the entire abdominal cavity?
- Do the abdominal muscles contract during exhalation?
- Is all of the air being exhaled?
- Is the breath choppy or smooth?
- Is the breath shallow or frozen?
- Am I experiencing tension in the shoulders, neck, jaw or the area in-between the shoulder blades?
- What does my breath tell me about myself?
This type of exercise is very similar to the Mindful Eating exercise we did the first week of this series and asks us to be aware and understand more of who we are and how we are.
Asking for Answers – I have alluded to this year being the year of self-study for me and I intend to keep working with that. I am examining my progress with my fitness, examining my teaching style, and always trying to figure out what makes me truly happy. Enlightenment for me is when I ask a question and sit with that question until I have a satisfactory answer.
I’ve written about the Dharmachakra mudra before as one way to practice. You sit in meditation with the questions of “How can I serve?” or “What comes next?” I liken this practice of meditation much unto prayer. I feel that it enlightens me not only to the right path or choice, but also brings me closer to understanding myself and my true desires. I believe that the answers are inside of each of us, but sometimes we’re not asking the right question.
There are many other mudras that can be used to reach enlightenment and I intend to write about those later this summer after we talk more about the 8 limb path of yoga.
Getting Connected – Finally, looking for connection through meditation. The OM chant that I referred to last week is an amazing meditation technique with others. But communing with others and with nature can make you truly feel connected to your surroundings, to human kind, and to the big picture of life. I use this intent when I feel alone and the right question is not there. When being aware of myself is making me feel too small and insignificant. When you feel alone in life, meditate to see that you are just but one piece of the big wheel of life and that it wouldn’t work without you.
Sometimes going outside and sitting in the sun; putting your feet in the dirt; listening to children laugh can all be ways to feel connected to the larger picture of life. There’s even a style of yoga out there called laugh yoga!
However you choose to meditate and whatever you’re seeking from it, I hope you will share it with us here! Namaste!