What is Samadhi: Meditation Explained

by | 11 Apr, 2024

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Samadhi, a term often used in the context of meditation and yoga, is a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation. In yoga, this is regarded as the final stage, at which union with the divine is reached (yoga means union).

Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘sam-a-dha’, meaning ‘to collect’ or ‘bring together’, Samadhi is often translated as ‘concentration’ or ‘single-pointedness of mind’. It is a state where one’s consciousness is directly experiencing the object of meditation, transcending the sense of self, leading to a state of bliss and enlightenment.

Understanding Samadhi

In the context of yoga and meditation, Samadhi is often described as a state of deep spiritual and psychophysical unity or integration. It is a state of complete absorption, where the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. It is the final stage in the eightfold path of Yoga where the person experiences oneness with the universe.

Samadhi is not a withdrawal from the world but rather a penetration into the world of reality. It is a state of pure consciousness, beyond the limitations of time and space. It is often compared to a state of ‘ecstasy’ or ‘trance’ but these comparisons don’t fully capture the profound and transformative nature of Samadhi.

Types of Samadhi

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There are different types of Samadhi described in various spiritual traditions. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, two types of Samadhi are described – Samprajnata Samadhi (conscious) and Asamprajnata Samadhi (superconscious).

Samprajnata Samadhi, also known as Savikalpa Samadhi or conscious Samadhi, is a state of Samadhi with which the mind remains conscious. It is associated with a sense of peace, happiness, and knowledge. Asamprajnata Samadhi, also known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi or superconscious Samadhi, is a state of Samadhi without consciousness of the world. It is a state of pure bliss, beyond the reach of the mind and intellect.

Reaching Samadhi

Reaching Samadhi is not a simple or easy task. It requires consistent practice, deep concentration, and a high level of spiritual maturity. It is not something that can be forced or rushed. It is a state that unfolds naturally as the mind becomes more refined and focused through meditation.

According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the path to Samadhi involves following the eight limbs of yoga – Yama (ethical standards), Niyama (self-discipline and spiritual observances), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (bliss or enlightenment).

Samadhi in Different Traditions

While Samadhi is a concept most commonly associated with Hinduism, particularly within the context of Yoga and Vedanta, it is also recognized in many other spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, each with their own interpretations and practices related to Samadhi.

For instance, in Buddhism, Samadhi is often referred to as ‘right concentration’ or ‘perfect concentration’, and is considered an essential part of the path to enlightenment. It is the eighth step in the Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha.

Samadhi in Buddhism

In Buddhism, Samadhi is considered one of the three divisions of the Eightfold Path, along with Sila (morality) and Panna (wisdom). It is often translated as ‘concentration’ or ‘one-pointedness of mind’. It is a state of deep tranquility where the mind is fully immersed in the object of concentration.

There are different levels of Samadhi in Buddhism, known as the Jhanas. These are states of deep concentration or absorption, which are reached through continuous and profound meditation. The Jhanas are often described as states of joy and happiness, characterized by the absence of negative mental states.

Samadhi in Jainism

In Jainism, Samadhi is not just a state of consciousness, but also a physical state that marks the end of a person’s worldly existence and the start of their spiritual journey. It is often associated with the practice of Sallekhana, a religious ritual of voluntary death through fasting.

According to Jain beliefs, a person who has achieved Samadhi has attained the highest state of spiritual enlightenment and is free from all karmic bondage. They have transcended the cycle of birth and death and have achieved liberation (Moksha).

The Benefits of Samadhi

Samadhi is considered the pinnacle of spiritual practice and the ultimate goal of many spiritual traditions. It is a state of profound peace and joy, beyond the reach of ordinary human experience. It is a state of pure consciousness, free from the limitations of the physical body and the mind.

Those who have experienced Samadhi often describe it as a state of supreme bliss, beyond words or description. They report a sense of oneness with the universe, a dissolution of the ego, and a profound understanding of the nature of reality. It is a transformative experience that can lead to lasting changes in perception and behavior.

Psychological Benefits

From a psychological perspective, Samadhi can have many benefits. It can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety, improved concentration and memory, increased self-awareness and self-understanding, and a greater sense of peace and well-being.

It can also lead to a shift in perspective, helping individuals to see beyond their personal problems and concerns, and to recognize the interconnectedness of all life. It can foster a sense of compassion and empathy, and a desire to help others.

Physical Benefits

While Samadhi is primarily a spiritual and psychological state, it can also have physical benefits. The deep relaxation and focus experienced during Samadhi can have a positive effect on the body, helping to reduce stress and tension, improve sleep, and boost the immune system.

Furthermore, the practice of meditation and yoga, which are often used to achieve Samadhi, can have numerous physical benefits, including improved flexibility, increased strength, better cardiovascular health, and improved respiratory function.

Conclusion

Samadhi is a profound and transformative state of consciousness, often described as the ultimate goal of meditation and yoga. It is a state of intense concentration and absorption, where the individual becomes one with the object of meditation.

While reaching Samadhi is not an easy task, it is a journey worth undertaking. The path to Samadhi, through the practice of meditation and yoga, can lead to many benefits, both psychological and physical, and can ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of oneself and the nature of reality.