The Eight Limbs of Yoga, are the different principles that makeup the Ashtanga Yoga system. The eight components walk us through practices such as non-violence, truthfulness, devotion, asanas, pranayama, amongst others. The last three components, however, known as antaratma sadhana or innermost quest, perhaps present the most important steps towards finding oneness with the universal self. These three principles are dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (enlightenment); and come about after learning how to direct our attention towards our inner being rather than directing it towards the outside world.
When reading about the Eight Limbs of Yoga or any other spiritual-related text, many tend to find concepts very abstract and out of reach. The aspiration of attaining a constant non-violent approach to life, for example, can be shattered in a matter of seconds after having a silly discussion with one of our colleagues or family members. Nourishing our body in a loving and caring way may find innumerable obstacles throughout our day and at times something as simple as telling the truth may seem utterly difficult.
But many of us walk through life without noticing that, whether we want it or not and whether we are conscious or not conscious about it, we are all leading spiritual existences; and that the same ideals that are apparently unattainable play a part in our lives more often than we realize. All we have to do is to pay close attention to when these elusive illuminating moments knock on our doors and be grateful for them. The more aware and grateful we are of them, the more they will knock our doors.
If you have ever been so immersed and focused on something which has even caused you to forget about everything and everyone around you, you have experienced dharana. Whether it is submerging yourself in creating a new drawing, reading a book, composing a song or aiming a ball inside the goal; all the times in which you have concentrated on a single action or thought have been an expression of dharana in your life. It is during those times in which all distractions are shut down when you actually get to grasp the present moment at one of its finest of expressions.
Even when you are reading a book or kicking the ball inside the goal, your concentration may be sporadic or discontinuous. You are focused, but a minute later you find yourself unfocused. So go back to that day in which you found yourself alone in your bedroom painting your next work of art; or out on a magnificent landscape taking pictures, maybe riding your bike around the neighborhood. You were doing exactly what you were meant to be doing in that precise moment of space and time. Space fades away and time is no longer remembered; you are not only immersed in the present moment for ten minutes or just two; you are simply immersed.
Enlightenment usually makes up for the unexplainable of limbs. Some might say it is like attempting to explain what color is to a blind person, but if you have ever experienced true love then you have probably grasped what samadhi is all about. The world is perfect for a moment; nothing requires an explanation because it all makes sense. No need for struggle, no need for success. There are no enemies and no friends, no happiness and no pain; just an absolute state of grace. Because as novelist Ramón del Valle once said:
Pilgrim of the world: If you look with all eyes, you will love with all hearts.
…and this is what samadhi is.