After pratyahara, dhrana, and dhyana, samadhi naturally emerges. This state of bliss is the complete union of mind, body, and spirit. The point of when we become absorbed in the object of meditation is samadhi. It is said that once a practitioner experiences it once, they will want to return to that state again and again for longer periods of time. The draw is that our false self, or small self, our ego, drops away. What we identify with no longer is what we “call” ourselves: daughter, friend, teacher. We just “are”.

Practicing pratyara so we are not distracted by inner thoughts or outer stimuli that might come to us through our senses, leads us to dhrana, or concentration. Dhrana is what we use when we meditate, or have an extended period of concentration. Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean that we sit cross-legged on the floor and focus on our breath. Meditation can be done while riding a bike, skiing, or reading. When our physical selves blur and there is just the experience, we move closer to samadhi. The first time one experiences samadhi, and it’s recognized for that instant, our thoughts that name it bring us out of the state of complete union. However, that taste urges us to experience more. It later becomes a transcendental state.

Amrit Desai, Osho, Yogananda, and others have reached this state and have ended up living the rest of their lives from the perspective of samadhi. At the end of my YTT, our teacher set us up with an activity to induce a glimpse of that state. I think some of us had a glimpse, and others did not. Like the rest of the yamas and niyamas, samadhi doesn’t have to evolve as the final stage of yoga. The Buddha was immediately entranced with samadhi. Other students practice for years and don’t achieve this state.

If we begin our yoga practice on the mat with asanas, then move on to the rest of the 8 limbs, and devote ourselves to what yoga has to offer, then I think samadhi is accessible to all. However, a fine line must be walked. Yoga can be practiced to get in shape and lose weight or to get a date for Friday night. Some people have agendas for getting on the mat and attending class. I admit that I have my own: when I walk out of class, I feel incredible. Why? I’ve let go of everything and was just the experience. Some say that is the way we are meant to be, but we do have a society to live and function in. I do take my practice off the mat and I become aware of when I’m given the opportunity to “practice yoga” and I’m reactionary instead. My emotions tell me when I’ve strayed from my true self to hang out with the ego. Because I have the tools and techniques of yoga at my disposal, I’m able to return to a calm, accepting state, usually quickly. And if not, then I allow that emotion to flow out of me until it’s done. Have I ever reached samadhi? I think so. Do I have the desire to return? Yes, but the distractions of the physical world and society often keep me rooted here.

I have a poem about samadhi in my Yogis All: A Journey of Transformation, Volume I, available on my website:   Have you experienced samadhi?