Samyama is a yogic technique originally introduced in the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali (the foundational text of yogic practice, originally in Sanskrit, authored by the sage Patanjali in 2nd century India).
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjai talks about 8 limbs, or facets, of Yoga (you may have heard the term “Ashtanga”, with respect to yoga; “Ashtanga” is a Sanskrit term meaning “Eight Limbs”).
- Yama – It means “restraint,” and includes ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (preservation of sexual energy and cultivation of it), and aparigraha (non-covetousness).
- Niyama – It means “observance,” and includes saucha (purity and cleanliness), samtosa (contentment), tapas (heat/focus/austerity), svadhyaya (study of scriptures and self), and isvara pranidhana (surrender to the divine).
- Asana – It means “posture,” and includes all those asanas we have come to know and love. In the lessons, asanas are used as a preparation for pranayama and meditation. Certain asanas stimulate the rise of kundalini. (Ref: Asanas lesson)
- Pranayama – It means “restraint of life force/breath,” and includes the pranayama. (lesson: breathing)
- Pratyahara – It means “introversion of senses.”
- Dharana – It means “concentration or focus of attention,”
- Dhyana – It means “meditation,” and is the flow of attention inward.
- Samadhi – It means “absorption/transcendence,” and it is what we experience in daily meditation.
The last three limbs combined together (Dharana, Dhyana & Samadhi) make up Samyama. Samyama is the state of resting in deep inner silence (samadhi), along with the ability to pick up a thought (focus/dharana) and let it go inward (meditation/dhyana). Then the results of samyama come out from inner silence automatically, because inner silence/awareness is, in reality, a single field. Understanding some of the deeper tools of subtle consciousness, such as samyama, helps us contribute positive influence within this single field. Samyama is an advanced yogic technique, one that is based on principles which utilize the operative powers of some of the more subtle and universal facets of consciousness; facets which many of us are not aware even exist, but which are available to all of us, with a certain amount of practice.
At first samyama is a very mechanical process wherein we pick up the sutra mentally, and then drop it (mentally) in stillness (please look at the AYP Samyama lesson for instructions; link provided below). As we keep going, though, the practice of samyama becomes more and more refined, as we become more and more converse with subtler aspects of our own consciousness. We will then notice that samyama is very effortless. Samyama practice takes the stillness we cultivated in meditation and moves that stillness outward. The process of picking the word (sutra) and dropping it into the stillness can become very ecstatic. When this beings to happen we can apply samyama to many other things; the ecstasy confirms the connection with the greater field of awareness, and we know we are engaged in living samyama. How can we be sure of this? Very simply: by the effects we experience. Awareness really is a single field, Living Unbound, in reality.
In the Living Unbound: Bliss Technique we talked about “bring up the thought in your mind and just before the thought forms.. STOP.. and stay in that gap. You will feel a lot of bliss and ecstasy“. In the Samyama Lesson (AYP Founder) Yogani says “pick up a sutra in samyama at a very faint and fuzzy level.” This faint and fuzzy level is the point where the word is not formed yet or as Yogani says, “it can be interpreted to mean “the energy before the thought.””
Once the core samyama practice is mastered, it becomes a natural habit of letting go. This is when we can start applying samyama to some of the various other practices that we engage in, with ever-greater ease. Finally, the practice of samyama can become automatic, or nearly so. The power of this technique, however, only increases, the more fully integrated it becomes.
- Living Unbound: Gap Technique
- Living Unbound: Bliss Technique
- Samyama and Self Inquiry
- Samyama and Prayers and Healing