Week 28: Moving To Subtler Levels Of Awareness In Your Practice | Using Concentration On Your Senses To Gain Inner Peace (Sutra 35)

“Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Visayavati Va Pravrittirutpanna Manasah Sthitinibandhani

Visayavati: having object of sense perceptions (sound, tangibility, form, savor and odor) | Va: or | Pravrttih: refined activity, subtle sense perception | Utpanna: uprising | Manasah: of the mind | Sthiti: steadiness | Nibandhani: bind, fix upon

As you develop the skill of cultivating one-pointed concentration (Dharana) in your practice so that you can graduate to true meditation (Dhyana), it is important to note that there is an infinite number of thing that you can set your mind upon to achieve your goal of calming your mind-stuff and concentrating effectively so that you can accomplish your goal of Self-Realization. Patanjali’s suggestion, as is mirrored in the guideline represented in/by the symbol and sound OM/AUM (and underscored by the organization of our Sutras in this section on concentration to remove obstacles to Samadhi and their accompaniments–Sutras 32-40 dealing with techniques specifically), is that you are best served (depending on where you are in your practice) starting with the more tangible and accessible aspects of life and yourself, before working your way to more subtle “objects” to focus on from there.

Patanjali’s suggestion is also (again underscored by the structure/organization of the Sutras in this section on concentration and the content presented in each Sutra itself) that you work your way up from Limb One to Limb Eight on your Eightfold Path (again depending on where you are–based on his use of the word “or” at the start of each Sutra in this section). In this way, you will gradually and effectively prepare your mind for the state of complete absorption that is required for you to merge back into the knowledge of the Truth and with your True Self.

Last week, after spending the week before that discussing how to maintain a clear mind and conscience in regards to relating to other people (focusing on your Yamas and Niyamas), we continued our exploration by focusing on the breath as an important introduction to Pranayama practice (notice, please, how Asanas comes later on as a small section briefly discussed in relation to posture preparation for mediation in Book 2 of the Sutras), which naturally means, if you follow the guideline of the Eightfold Path, that we are now ready to move through Prataharas and the senses and will continue down this path to discuss several other suggested areas of focus that you can concentrate on for effective integration as they relate to Dharanas and then Dhyanas in your daily practice as well. The Eight Limbs are discussed more clearly in later books/chapters of the Sutras, but please note how they are lightly mentioned here.

This week, as was already introduced in Sutra 35 quoted in full above, we will be focusing on the subtle sense perceptions.

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