Samadhi, the eighth limb of yoga, is often translated as bliss. As I continue to explore the limbs of yoga as translated, adapted, and informed from my Western perspectives, I find it helpful to delve into the definition of words.
What does bliss mean?
Bliss means perfect happiness, great joy and serenity. This definition made it clear to me that I experienced more moments of samadhi than I originally thought. When I first learned the limbs of yoga, I felt that my previous conditioning influenced my concept of yoga. I had a belief that “God” or “Heaven” is elsewhere or that ecstasy can only be experienced on another plane of existence.
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Samadhi is often represented visually as someone sitting in Easy Pose or Lotus Pose, either in nature or in a cosmic world that highlights the vastness of the universe. This can lead us to believe that there is a certain way to achieve samadhi.
But here’s the secret: you don’t need to have advanced yoga practice to experience samadhi. In fact, you can experience bliss in the most mundane task … if you are willing to let go of all expectations and preconceptions.
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For example, recently I experienced my personal version of samadhi while washing dishes. I did the dishes without worrying about the past or about the future. Instead, I was just immersed in the task at hand – so complete that time no longer existed. I almost dropped a plate and then caught it in an incredible way. I laughed out loud and happily went on with this everyday task. At that moment, I was in a state of perfect happiness and grace. I have not experienced a Kundalini ascension with energy flowing up my spine. No colors swirled around me and I didn’t have the full answer to the meaning of life. Instead, I experienced the union with myself and the flow of life. I really embodied yoga.
There are several layers of samadhi. You can find it by embodying the true awareness of the present moment. Go on. Your yoga practice will help you get there.
This year, the Yoga Journal’s annual ambassador road trip – the Live Be Yoga Tour – will be virtual. We call it decompression. Recently we have all been asked to travel inward, take moments of pause and silence, and slow down, rest, and prioritize the things we cherish. Follow the Live Be Yoga 2020 series here, stay connected with us on @livebeyoga on social networks and join the movement to find beauty in silence.