Concentration, meditation, and enlightenment.

Concentration, meditation, and enlightenment.

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Enlightenment is a loaded word. Yet, it's the ultimate goal of yoga.

For thousands of years, yogis, spiritual scientists have been studying our inner environment: consciousness.

What if there is a scientific process that you can use to experience enlightened states of consciousness? There is. Let's simply refer to these as greater levels of awareness.

Concentration leads to meditation, meditation leads to greater levels of awareness. More advanced meditation techniques lead to more advanced levels of awareness. Let's start with the basics, based on the 8 limbs of yoga. Imagine your body and mind is one metaphorical tree whose roots are nourished when you treat others and yourself with loving kindness. The energy from these roots flows up, through the trunk, towards the branches with careful attention to your posture, breath, and introspective awareness. The tree grows fruit and the cycle of life continues, naturally, with effortless effort - call it perfect inner discipline.

Perfect inner discipline? You don't need to meditate on a mountain to find it.

It starts with concentration. "When the attention of the mind-stuff is directed in a single stream to a chosen field, without being dissipated and thus distracted–that is concentration." (Yoga Sutras III.1.)

Concentration leads to meditation. "When the cognition is entirely concentrated in that field thus becoming its own field of observation–that is, when the observer is observed–it is meditation."(Yoga Sutras III.2.)

Meditation leads to illumination. "When the field of observation and the observing intelligence merge as if their own form is abolished and the total intelligence shines as the sole substance or reality, there is pure choiceless awareness without the divided identity of the observer and the observed–that is illumination." (Yoga Sutras III.3.)

When these three happen together there is perfect inner discipline. This can happen during what is commonly known as the practice of meditation, and during any other form of physical or mental activity. When such inner discipline is mastered, there arrises the vision that is wisdom. This vision (or the eye of intuition, or the eye of wisdom, or the inner light) can be directed to many fields of observation. (Yoga Sutras III.4-6)

Is illumination (the unfoldment of greater levels of awareness) reserved for monks and mystics, or can anyone learn techniques to experience illumination? You decide.

It's at least worth working towards, isn't it? According to yoga science and philosophy, we have the right to do the work but we do not have the right to the fruits of our labor.

Imagine you're a farmer growing fruit trees. Storms come, as storms do, and storms have the same right to take fruits as you do. But, you are intelligent, and you can concentrate on doing the work to make your farm storm-proof without attachment to the fruit. You can enjoy the process, regardless of the outcome, and simply enjoy the fruit when it comes.

Remember, too, that you don't need to intellectually understand how a seed grows into a tree, and how a tree grows fruit, to tend your farm. Just practice these techniques everyday, with playfulness and discipline, and witness greater levels of awareness unfold naturally.

Concentration leads to meditation, meditation leads to greater levels of awareness. More advanced meditation techniques lead to more advanced levels of awareness. This process is aided by your commitment to practice daily, and be unattached to the outcome.