If you want to go further in your meditation practice, try Samyama meditation technique.
Samyama meditation technique is part of Ashtanga yoga. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali says we should do Samyama after training in Pratyahara (sense withdrawal). Pratyahara helps to reduce the information in the mind, so we are more able to meditate.
You will need to prepare yourself for Samyama if you are a yogi. Indeed, in some schools of yoga, the yogin continually trains in Samyama meditation. For example, in Adi yoga and Raja yoga, because Samyama contains the three upper limbs of Raja Yoga.
Patanjali states that it develops prajna (understanding). Especially, it develops “mula prajna’. That is, listening and contemplation.
Meaning of Samyama meditation
Samyama is a Sanskrit word meaning to bind something together. Indeed, it is the binding of Dharana (concentration) with Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (union).
Advanced meditators will love this method because of the insight it provides. If you have practised Dhyana meditation you will find it similar. Why? Because like Dhyana it involves oneness. We become one with the meditation object.
When we practise Samyama meditation we achieve a deep state of oneness. This oneness is called “absorption”. We become absorbed in the meditation object.
How To Do Samyama Meditation Technique
Now let’s look at how to do Samyama meditation technique.
I have created this guide based on Alan Little’s “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.”
As always, when you do Samyama meditation technique, make sure you have good posture. You should sit with a straight but relaxed spine. Close your eyes. Tuck your chin down just a tiny bit to lengthen your neck. And you can use a mudra if you like. Or place your hands on your lap. You should feel grounded and stable.
1: In the first stage of Samyama meditation we meditate on one object. This is similar to Dharana.
I’m going to use an example of meditating on a candle flame. So set a candle about a metre in front of you. You can also use the breath if you prefer. Either way, focus your mind on the meditation object as usual.
When you experience thoughts or feelings just let them float by. Don’t dwell on them or fight them. You want to let them temporarily exist without affecting you.
2: Next, we are instructed to sustain Dharana uninterrupted.
We are working our way towards Samadhi (absorption). To get there, we must sustain our focus on the meditation object. So simply continue to meditate on your object.
3: Next, we achieve oneness with the meditation object. At this point, we lose self-awareness. This is basically Samadhi.
Eventually, you will reach a point of Samadhi. You will achieve oneness with the object. However, you can’t force this oneness. By definition, it must be effortless. We get there through sustained training in Dharana.
4: We now practise Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi together. That is, we concentrate, achieve oneness, and become absorbed in the meditation object. This is Samyama.
When we achieve Samyama we become the object we are meditating on. We lose our delusional sense of self and the only thing that exists is the meditation object.
5: Once we achieve Samyama we will achieve insight.
Because we are now one with the meditation object, we will receive insight from it. You will find that you experience the true nature of the object you are meditating on. When you experience this, it is perhaps the most profound stage of meditation.
6: Patanjali states that we can use Samyama in various ways to “derive its usefulness”.
There really aren’t too many direct benefits of Samyama stated in the Sutras. Indeed, Patanjali simply tells us to try it out and find its usefulness. Although, interestingly, there are mentions of the ability to change your size and even to levitate (would love to know your thoughts on this in a comment).
Benefits of Samyama meditation
Patanjali states that if we master Samyama meditation we will overcome any “cognitive obscuration” (Klesha). The Yoga Sutras also state that the yogin will acquire powers and successes (siddhi) through Samyama meditation.
Patanajali actually discusses things like teleportation as a benefit of Samyama. Personally, I have never teleported. Nope. Not once. I feel like I’m missing out.
What about more practical benefits?
Sadly, there really isn’t any research into the effects of Samyama meditation technique. And you’ll want to take personal accounts with a pinch of salt. Because some yogin state that they have achieved miracles like floating through the stars while doing this method.
Certainly, we do know that Samyama meditation has most of the benefits of Dharana and Dhyana. Because it involves both those techniques.
Therefore, we know that Samyama activates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, it is relaxing. But so are most meditations.
I will speculate about some benefits.
Some benefits of Samyama meditation seem apparent.
For instance, it is probable that Samyama is a powerful way of reducing negative thoughts and negative beliefs. Why? Because we completely lose our sense of self.
Most negative thoughts and negative beliefs are based around our idea of ourselves as an individual. Therefore, it is likely that when we overcome that sense of self, we shake off those negative thoughts and negative beliefs.
I am absolutely certain that it does wonders for the body too. Because at the highest point of Samyama meditation the body is completely and utterly relaxed. More so than in other methods. And this suggests that it should help with aches and illnesses.
We can probably agree with Patanjali on the “insight” too. When you achieve Samyama you do indeed see the true reality of the object. And as such, you do gain insight into its true nature.
Samyama meditation is without doubt one of the most powerful meditations. When we achieve Samyama we are completely absorbed in the object. And this removes our imprisoning sense of self.
Not only is this wonderfully relaxing, but it also offers significant benefits. Whether you believe in levitation or not.
If you would like to learn Samyama and other meditation techniques, book an online meditation lesson with me today.