How do you explain something that is inexplicable? Samadhi is the ultimate experience of yoga, but there really are no words that adequately explain it.
Our method of communication is through language so we are limited by our words and their associated meanings. But samadhi is an experience and that is what the first book of the Yoga Sutras is all about. After defining yoga and the kinds of vrittis (thoughts) we have, Patanjali gives us strategies to weaken the ones that inhibit yoga in order to develop a focused mind. We are then able to experience deeper and deeper states of meditation, realizing deeper and deeper levels of samadhi, or the space in between the thoughts, until there are no thoughts left and the yogi is fully established in their true nature.
But the experience of it is far more magical and perfect than any of these words or labels can convey. Sounds far out, but it’s not.
I know because I have experienced moments in my meditation practice where all of a sudden – and here is where words are inadequate to describe what happens – I come back or wake up or have a thought, as if I was somewhere else. Where was I? How long was I there? I don’t know but I want to go back.
What is it that I want? The experience of going beyond the confines of my mind, my physical body and everything I think I know. Freedom. Lightness. Quiet.
The Yoga Sutras explain this as the level of samadhi, which happens when I am no longer identifying with my thoughts, whether mundane or subtle. These first levels are said to be the samadhis with seeds because they are thoughts that focus on something external to me, but it is still samadhi, which is cool because that means it is not an unattainable state.
Then, to get to the place of an undisturbed mind, I have to go into the most subtle level where thoughts have no seeds. As I have progressed down this path, I have gotten clearer and clearer and I have had glimpses my inner self. The light has been switched on and a knowledge has arisen that my true nature is indeed beyond any identification with my thoughts.
This knowledge, enlightenment if you will, is the truth and it is real. It is different from anything I have heard or read about someone else’s experience. Because it is mine, and I know it on the most personal level there is, and this is how the yogi, aka me, transforms the mind.
We start to develop deep impressions in our minds that become firmly rooted reinforcing samadhi. Then past impressions, samskaras, or the way our minds used to work, are prevented from throwing out old thoughts that do not serve our new way of being. Eventually, even the new samskaras cease and from that cessation of everything, there is samadhi without seed, the deepest absorption in meditation. A mental focus when all thoughts stop and the yogi is fully established as the Seer – purusha and drashtu abides in their true nature.
This is exactly what Patanjali says is going to happen. The first word of the Samadhi Pada is atha; it means now. Now, here in this moment, the yogi is free. The last word is samadhi. Now…samadhi. That is all we need to know.