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Yoga Meditation

In order to practice this concentration one has to see that there may be no disturbance, and the yogin should select a quiet place on a hill or in a forest. One of the main obstacles is, however, to be found in our constant respiratory action. This has to be stopped by the practice of pranayama. Pranayama consists in taking in breath, keeping it for a while and then giving it up. With practice one may retain breath steadily for hours, days, months and even years. When there is no need of taking in breath or giving it out, and it can be retained steady for a long time, one of the main obstacles is removed.

The process of practicing concentration is begun by sitting in a steady posture, holding the breath by pranayama, excluding all other thoughts, and fixing the mind on any object (dharana). At first it is difficult to fix steadily on any object, and the same thought has to be repeated constantly in the mind, this is called dhyana. After sufficient practice in dhyana the mind attains the power of making itself steady; at this stage it becomes one with its object and there is no change or repetition. There is no consciousness of subject, object or thinking, but the mind becomes steady and one with the object of thought. This is called samadhi.(1) We have already described the six stages of samadhi. As the yogin acquires strength in one stage of samadhi, he passes on to a still higher stage and so on. As he progresses onwards he attains miraculous powers (vibhuti) and his faith and hope in the practice increase. Miraculous powers bring with them many temptations, but the yogin is firm of purpose and even though the position of Indra is offered to him he does not relax. His wisdom (prajna) also increases at each step.

(1) It should be noted that the word samadhi cannot properly be translated either by "concentration" or by "meditation." It means that peculiar kind of concentration in the Yoga sense by which the mind becomes one with its object and there is no movement of the mind into its passing states.

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