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Dhyana - the Seventh Limb of Yoga

The seventh limb, considered just a step up from yoga’s limb number six, is Dhyana.  This seventh limb comes from the Sanskrit word Dhyai which means to think.  Dhyana is considered to be the practice of uninterrupted meditation or contemplation.  During this limb of practice, your mind becomes still.  The outcome is deep concentration.  Another outcome is deep rest.  This deep rest would lead to the next step or the eighth limb.  We will discuss that in the next post.

Back to the seventh limb, Dhyana.  Since it is near impossible to still the mind, let us think of dhyana as the process of being absorbed in the present moment so fully that our ego is quiet.  Athletes, musicians, and artists refer to this state as being in the zone or flow.  

Oftentimes we are told that meditation is the practice of clearing one’s mind completely or the ability to still one’s mind.  According to Patanjali’s method, dhyana is more about keeping your attention on one object or item to the “exclusion of all others.”  It doesn’t matter what you are focusing on as long as your attention is directed fully on it.

If you have ever tried to meditate, you know that it is not a simple thing.  It is not as easy as it sounds.  Releasing all your thoughts and finding stillness by concentrating on your one thing takes a lot of practice and time.  This is not something achieved overnight.  The seventh limb of yoga, like all the other limbs, is about the journey.  Dhyana is about the continual practice and effort it takes to reach this state of meditation.  

There are thousands of studies that show how beneficial meditation is.  There are just as many apps, videos, and books to help you learn how to do it.  Keep in mind, the only way to achieve dhyana is to consistently put in the time and practice.  It will seem hard in today’s busy world, but it is one of the best practices you can work at.  

Working with the previous limbs of yoga––yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, and now dhyana is a multi level, multi-layered state.  There will be times when you are practicing different limbs without realizing it.  There will also be times when you are practicing multiple limbs at the same time; hello yoga classes at Aligned with Green Wellness!  This is not a linear process.  As our lives change daily, sometimes by the minute, you will find that your practice will change as well.  If you are able to lean into this, to meditate on this, you will be able to grasp the practice of dhyana readily.  Instead of meditation being something you actively do, it becomes a state of being.  It is as if you are forgetting you are meditating, and you are just being completely present without focus or judgment of this moment you are living, fully living.

As always, if you are interested in learning more about the eight limbs of yoga, or if you would like to try a yoga class, Krista at Aligned with Green Wellness is happy to help or answer any questions you might have!  You can find her here

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