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Yoga Practice

When by the pranayama the senses are restrained from their external objects, we have what is called pratyahara, by which the mind remains as if in its own nature, being altogether identified with the object of inner concentration or contemplation, and thus when this citta is again suppressed the senses which had already ceased from coming into contact with other objects and become submerged in the citta itself also cease along with it. Dharana is the concentration of citta on a particular place, which is so very necessary at the time of pranayamas mentioned before. The mind may thus be held steadfast in such places as the sphere of the navel, the lotus of the heart, the light in the brain, the forepart of the nose, the forepart of the tongue, or any other parts of the body. Dhyana is the continuance, the changing flow of the mental effort, in the object of dharana unmediated by any other break of conscious states.

Samadhi or trance contemplation results when by deep concentration mind becomes transformed in the form of the object of contemplation. By pratyahara or power of abstraction the mind desists from all other objects except the one to which it is intended to be centered; the Yogin as he thus abstracts his mind also tries to give to it some internal or external object, and this fixing on an object is called dharana. It should be borne in mind that in order to inhibit the obstructions arising from the shakiness and unsteadiness of the body it is necessary to practice steadfast posture and to cultivate the pranayama, as also for the purpose of inhibiting the distractions arising from breathing. Gradually as an effect of steadying the mind on one object by meditation called dhyana, the mind flows steadily in that state without any interruption, and the mind even ceases to think that it is thinking the object; it is then transformed into the form of the object under concentration and becomes steady therein. We see therefore that samadhi is the consummation of that process which begins in dharana or concentration. These three, dharana, dhyana and samadhi represent the three stages of the same process, of which the last one is the perfection, and these three are together technically called samyama which directly leads to and is immediately followed by the samprajnata state. Yogangas or the attainment of moral virtues only help it indirectly. For asamprajnata state however these three are not so intimately related, for a person who is very highly advanced, one who is the special object of God's grace may at once by an intense vairagya and abhyasa pass into the nirodha state or the state of absolute suppression.

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