Samadhi the final limb of the 8-limbed path is the concept of integration or absorption with the totality of the universe. Often translated as enlightenment, samadhi is a state where our consciousness is pure and balanced. From my experience there have been glimpses and moments where I’ve experienced a sense of completeness, where it seemed that I lacked nothing, and I was whole. Since these moments were fleeting I still wasn’t sure.
For years, I tried so hard to understand what samadhi truly meant. I had heard it was a state of ecstasy, and I was flustered that I didn’t get it. Then a few years ago, it came to me… Another translation for samadhi is self-realization. Self-realization means getting to know yourself better. In the process, you learn to love yourself more. It’s about accepting where you are today at this very moment and moving from a place of honesty. It’s greater than tolerance, it’s loving-kindness, and our world desperately needs more of it. It starts at home in our own mind. When we can move from a place of truth and acceptance of ourselves, we can begin to accept and respect others.
Is enlightenment possible in this lifetime? A teacher of mine likes to say, “I’m not sure completely if enlightenment is possible in this life, but I believe empowerment is.” I like to call this “enlightened living.” The idea that we do whatever we are capable of toward living as our best selves, and to take ownership of the ways in which we move through the world and interact with one another. When we sort out the things that hold us back from living empowered, most likely there will be a permeating joy akin to samadhi.
We invite you to join us in bringing more awareness to the practice of enlightened living (and beyond). Here are a few ways to get started:
— Relax the intensity of our effort both on and off the mat, and bring attention to the endless energy within.
— Make a commitment to take a moment every single day to tell yourself something that you are grateful for and appreciate.
— Practice conscious breathing throughout your day. There is simply nothing more present or in the moment than our breath.
— Accept where you are today at this very moment and moving from a place of honesty
— Samadhi is equality. Take time to nurture each aspect of your being. Do things that feed your mind, like signing up for that class that you always wanted to take. Do things that feed your soul, like volunteering at an animal shelter or a nursing home. Do something that feeds your emotions, like making time to see an old friend.
— Use this mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum
It’s very short, so it can be practiced by anyone anytime, in any situation, it promotes ease, balances relationships and removes negativity.
I hope this practices give you a glimpse into your joyful nature. It’s important to note, that reaching for enlightenment or an ecstatic state of being often pushes it further away. We must come to our practice open to the possibilities, but without feeling like we must accomplish or attain such a lofty goal. Striving for samadhi could become a heavy burden which dampens the quality of our practice, and may ultimately serve as a let down when such feelings become elusive. Appreciate the simplicity of a moment as it comes and you are on the right track to enlightened living.